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5 Ways to Boost Your Immune System Through Your Gut

Did you know that near­ly 70 per­cent of your immune sys­tem is housed in your gut? While fre­quent hand wash­ing and social dis­tanc­ing are cru­cial in pre­vent­ing the spread of ill­ness­es, being mind­ful of the food and bev­er­ages you con­sume can also help sup­port your immune sys­tem and keep you well. Tak­ing steps to ensure your diges­tive sys­tem is func­tion­ing prop­er­ly is an essen­tial part of main­tain­ing your over­all health.

When food is bro­ken down dur­ing diges­tion, your gut works to absorb nutri­ents that are used to sup­port a vari­ety of bod­i­ly func­tions and elim­i­nate waste from your body. Healthy bac­te­ria found in your gut is also used to stim­u­late the devel­op­ment of T‑cells, which are respon­si­ble for dis­tin­guish­ing your body’s cells and tis­sue from poten­tial­ly harm­ful things in your body. When there is an imbal­ance in your gut, such as an over­growth of bad” bac­te­ria, it can con­fuse your immune sys­tem caus­ing it to start attack­ing your own cells. If your immune sys­tem is busy react­ing to healthy cells, not only is it eas­i­er for you to get sick, it’s also hard­er for your body to recover.

This is why main­tain­ing the bal­ance and health of your diges­tive sys­tem is impor­tant to pro­tect your immune sys­tem. Gas­troen­terol­o­gist, Vishal Desai, MD, shares five ways you can boost your immu­ni­ty and pre­vent ill­ness with healthy habits.

Watch what you eat 

The foods and bev­er­ages you con­sume affect how your diges­tive sys­tem oper­ates and can dis­rupt the bal­ance of the good and bad bac­te­ria found in your gut. When­ev­er pos­si­ble, avoid processed foods. They con­tain addi­tives such as arti­fi­cial sweet­en­ers, salt and sat­u­rat­ed fats that can lead to diges­tive issues.

Try adding fiber-rich foods to your diet such as fruits, grains, nuts and veg­eta­bles. Fiber helps to reg­u­late your diges­tive tract, pro­mote reg­u­lar bow­el move­ments and sup­port the good bac­te­ria in your gut.

Foods that con­tain pro­bi­otics can also give your diges­tive health a boost. Pro­bi­otics are healthy bac­te­ria that work to break down fiber in your body, reduc­ing indi­ges­tion symp­toms includ­ing gas and bloat­ing. Pro­bi­otics are found in fer­ment­ed foods such as sauer­kraut and miso as well as yogurts con­tain­ing live and active cultures.

Drink plen­ty of fluids

Inad­e­quate flu­id intake can cause con­sti­pa­tion, so it’s impor­tant to drink plen­ty of flu­ids. Aside from water, non-caf­feinat­ed bev­er­ages like herbal teas or sparkling water, or fruits and veg­eta­bles that con­tain high amounts of water such as mel­ons, peach­es, toma­toes, cucum­bers or zuc­chi­ni can help keep you hydrat­ed. Try to avoid sodas and sweetened/​flavored waters as these can lead to dehydration.

Lim­it alco­hol and caffeine 

Alco­hol can dis­rupt the bal­ance of good and bad bac­te­ria in your gut. Alco­hol may also increase acid pro­duc­tion in your stom­ach, lead­ing to heart­burn and acid reflux. Caf­feine can also dis­rupt the bal­ance of good and bad bac­te­ria in the gut, how­ev­er, if tak­en in mod­er­a­tion (only 1 – 2 cups per), there is no harm. 

Find ways to relax

Stress can impact your whole body, includ­ing your diges­tive and immune sys­tems. When you expe­ri­ence stress, the blood and ener­gy nor­mal­ly used by your diges­tive sys­tem are instead re-direct­ed to oth­er areas of your body. This can cause a vari­ety of diges­tive con­di­tions and symp­toms such as irri­ta­ble bow­el syn­drome, ulcers or changes with your bow­el habits. Stress man­age­ment tech­niques like deep breath­ing exer­cis­es and med­i­ta­tion can help reduce stress and pre­vent diges­tive issues.

Stay active

Phys­i­cal activ­i­ty helps to move food through your diges­tive sys­tem. Tak­ing a walk after meals or engag­ing in 30 min­utes of phys­i­cal activ­i­ty a few days a week, can pro­mote reg­u­lar bow­el move­ments and reduce inflam­ma­tion in your body.

While many things in life may seem out of our con­trol, there are steps you can take to main­tain strong diges­tive health and sup­port your immune sys­tem. For more infor­ma­tion on diges­tive issues and your heath, sched­ule an appoint­ment with a gas­troen­terol­o­gist online or by call­ing 6307172600.

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  • My approach to practicing medicine is simple. My goal is to work with my patients in order to adequately deliver high quality medical care. I make it a point to keep my patients well informed, comfortable and engaged in their own treatment. Any questions, concerns or opinions are always taken into account as no one knows their own body and symptoms than the patient. I want to be a physician that is approachable and relatable and will always put my patients first.