By Fredrica Syren:
Last winter it seemed as if I was sick…a lot… and forever. Ok, so yes, I have three kids whom I sometimes lovingly nickname the germinators because — let’s face it — most kids bring germs home, especially kids in school. But I could tell I was off and that my immune system was not working as well as it could. When I told this to my acupuncturist, she asked how my gut was doing. I learned that the digestive system is responsible for your overall well-being, but it particularly affects your immune system. Unfortunately, it’s very common for many people to suffer from less than good gut health and, as a result, lack strength, vitality and a strong immune system. Indeed, my digestive system was not working well, so after learning about the importance of digestive health, I set out with a goal in mind — to rebuild my gut health.
The digestive system is in charge of 60-70 percent of your immune system. With a healthy gut comes a healthy immune system that will ensure your body’s ability to fight any colds or flus being passed around. The fact is that in your gut there are trillions of good bacteria that help process your food, absorb nutrients and….yes, fight disease. Your gut’s job is to digest foods and absorb nutrients, vitamins and minerals from them into the bloodstream. A healthy gut can also recognize and neutralizing invaders like harmful bacteria, toxins, microbes, viruses and allergens that may be harmful; and its job is to transport these invaders out of the body.
The road to a healthy digestive system is really not that long or complicated. It can be as simple as eating light meals focusing on whole foods, nutritionally dense food containing plenty of fruits and vegetables, and reducing processed food. Drink lots of water to help with digestion. To boost my digestive system, I focused on eating lots of plant based food and lots of raw food filled with enzymes that aid digestion. I also started taking a daily probiotic supplement to add good bacteria to my gut. I added probiotic rich foods like fermented foods. Eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, microalgae and kombucha is also a good way to add more good bacteria to help with digestion.
There are many things that can cause your digestive system to fail. One is medication, especially lots of antibiotics and penicillin. Stress and sleep play major rolls in how well you digest food, so less stress and more rest is recommended to boost digestion and the immune system. A diet filled with processed, sugar-laden, refined foods puts the digestive system at risk for yeast overgrowth, so avoiding that is a smart thing.
For me, once I started to focus on getting back to a healthy gut and digestive system, I immediately noticed that I not only got sick less, but I also got more energy, that my dry itchy skin got much better and my thinking got clearer.