If you want to stay well this cold and flu season, optimize your digestion.
It may not seem like the two are connected, but 70% of your immune cells live in your intestinal tract, so good intestinal health is essential for a healthy immune system.
The most important steps you can take to optimize your digestion and strengthen your immune system are:
- Eating in a way that is supportive of your digestive health
- Making sure that your intestinal tract is sufficiently populated with healthy bacteria
Your digestive system is not just made up of cells. It is an ecosystem – home to a host of bacteria often referred to as “gut flora.” Most of this bacteria is beneficial – they help us digest nutrients, detoxify the colon, and support our immune system.
In order to maintain a healthy supply of this helpful bacteria, it’s important to eat the right foods. This means keeping your sugar intake to a minimum – no more than 6 teaspoons or 25 grams of sugar per day – and avoiding alcohol. Sugar and alcohol can create an acidic environment in the body, allowing infection and illness to thrive.
Consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables along with protein, gluten-free whole grains, and healthy fats, like avocado, coconut oil, and olive oil, will help ensure that you get your daily dose of fiber. This is essential for proper eliminations, or bowel movements, and is also a sign that your digestive system is healthy and well.
In addition, you can support healthy digestion and immunity by eating probiotic-rich foods – vitamin D and vitamin C get a lot of attention when it comes to immune health, but probiotics are equally, if not more, important. Probiotic-rich foods, like kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickles, support the growth of good bacteria in your digestive system and are also high in enzymes that aid in digestion, and thereby, support immune function.
Not a fan of fermented vegetables? Try a probiotic supplement – look for a high-quality probiotic, like Daily Flora. Daily Flora is a shelf-stable probiotic that does not need to be refrigerated. I recommend shelf-stable probiotics as they tend to be more stable when they enter the body than probiotics that need to be refrigerated.
Kombucha may also be an option. It’s an effervescent drink made by fermenting black tea. It doesn’t work for everyone, but some of my patients find that it provides additional digestive support and immunity against infection and illness.
A happy digestive system is essential for a healthy immune system. This cold and flu season, stay hydrated and nourish yourself well, not only will this help to keep your digestive system happy, but it will help support and strengthen your immune system.