Immunity, immune system, immune response … We never tire of hearing, and increasingly, these words at a time when the body’s defenses are of vital importance. And it is that the immune system is the one that protects us from harmful substances, responds to these pathogens and destroys them.
And what role does the gut microbiota play in immunity?
One of vital importance. Let’s start at the beginning. The human microbiota is a complex set of bacteria that inhabit different parts of our body. And the largest population of bacteria are found in the digestive tract. They increase as we progress through it, being in the final part, in the colon, where they are more abundant. And these bacteria are essential to maintain good health. In fact, they are responsible for 70% of your immune system.
It is known that the composition of the intestine changes when we suffer from pathologies and that certain situations can alter the balance of the intestinal microbiota and, therefore, weaken our defenses: stress, a poor diet or the intake of antibiotics are among these situations.
So what happens when our microbiota suffers from an imbalance?
Our health is a matter of balance. If our microbiota breaks down, this is when alterations appear. Among them, gastrointestinal complaints such as bloating, gas or constipation. But it doesn’t just cause health problems in the gut. Overweight problems, obesity, allergies and even autism can appear with an altered intestinal microbiota.
And how can I take care of my microbiota to help my immune system?
We must be aware that we live with millions of living beings who are constantly taking care of our health. We also have to take care of them by maintaining adequate conditions in their habitat, that is, in our intestines. By helping our bacteria, we help ourselves to stay healthy.
When an alteration of the intestinal microbiota occurs due to any of the factors that we have mentioned above, it is important to know how to recover the bacterial populations that take care of our state of health. Some tips are:
- Follow a balanced diet. But, above all, rich in dietary fiber, that is, in fruits and vegetables. Fiber has a probiotic effect. Or, in other words, it acts as “food” for beneficial intestinal bacteria and, therefore, promotes their proliferation. Try to eat 5 meals a day and avoid snacking.
- Avoid ultra-processed foods, industrial pastries and fast food.
- Take fermented foods like yogurt or cheese. And is that these foods contain beneficial bacteria.
- Avoid tobacco use and restrict alcohol and coffee.
- Take only the medications that are necessary. We must not fall into self-medication or drug overuse.
- Avoid stress.
- Respect the hours of sleep and rest. Restful sleep is essential for the repair and recovery of the body.
- Do physical exercise. Regular exercise has been shown to help maintain good health.
- Take probiotics. Gut health can be improved with the use of probiotics. Probably, in a very short time, the use of probiotics in pathologies that involve different alterations of the immune system will be common. Currently they are already being used successfully in pathologies such as atopic dermatitis, celiac disease or as an immune booster.