It’s been said before, but a majority of our immune system lies within our gut. Immune cells are always on patrol looking for harmful invaders in order to eliminate them. These immune cells can’t function properly without the assistance of good bacteria within the microbiome. Beneficial bacteria produce many supportive nutrients and protective elements that can aid our immune response. When beneficial bacteria become outnumbered by negative bacteria, we fall into a state of dysbiosis.
In today’s world, there are an increasing number of factors that can throw our microbiome and therefore, our immune system out of balance. Many of us are dealing with at least one of the following gut disruptors. Common Gut Disruptors
Medications: The biggest culprits are antibiotics, PPIs, beta-blockers, and antidepressants. They can throw off microbiome balance after a single dose.
Toxins: Chronic exposure to heavy metals, pesticides, and household cleaners can destroy beneficial bacteria and allow pathogens to overtake the microbiome.
Diet: Processed foods, refined sugars, and trans fats encourage pathogen growth in the gut.
Sedentary Lifestyle: A lack of physical activity can lead to an increased risk of disease and infection.
Chronic Stress: The gut-brain connection is very important. Stress and anxiety cause dysbiosis. Dysbiosis increases inflammation and results in continued emotional stress.
Poor sleep: Not getting enough sleep adds to inflammation and reduces immune response.
Dysbiosis can trigger immune overactivation and inflammation, leaving us vulnerable to infection and autoimmune conditions. Pathogens produce harmful toxins (LPS) that destroy the intestinal lining. The main job of the intestinal lining is to allow nutrients to pass into the bloodstream and keep toxins out. This action becomes hindered as the lining gets more and more damaged, now allowing anything (good or bad) to cross through. The immune system starts to mount an inflammatory attack to destroy what has passed through. Chronic immune activation creates long-term inflammation and can weaken your overall immune response when you actually need it. Steps to Rebalance and Repair
As functional medicine providers we utilize a lot of the 4R principles: Remove, Repair, Re-inoculate, and Rebalance. We emphasize dietary changes and supplementation to reduce toxin overload and inflammatory responses. The Standard American Diet is no good for the gut. The second step is to repair the intestinal lining; as we look to build the integrity and protective benefits again. Then reintroduce beneficial probiotics and prebiotics to ensure microbiome diversity for the long term. A healthy microbiome and a strong immune system form the foundation of health, and thankfully we have the tools in place to get you there. Find out more about our GI Repair and Restore program here and schedule a consultation. We’d love to hear from you!