The human immune system is complex and is affected by numerous factors. The good news, however, is that our immune responses aren’t hard-wired; we can change them by changing lifestyle factors such as diet and stressors.
And one of the most effective ways to bolster the immune system (and your chances of combating infection) is to maintain healthy gut bacteria.
Gut health = a strong immune system
Trillions of microbes live in the human gut; they’re known collectively as the microbiome. According to , Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, writing in The Conversation, ‘A number of recent studies have shown that the gut microbiome plays an essential role in the body’s immune response to infection and in maintaining overall health.
‘As well as mounting a response to infectious pathogens like coronavirus, a healthy gut microbiome … helps to prevent potentially dangerous immune overreactions that damage the lungs and other vital organs [and]… can cause respiratory failure and death.’
Eating for a healthy gut microbiome
‘A diverse microbiome is a healthy microbiome, containing many different species that each play their part in immunity and health,’ The Conversation notes. Moreover, ‘the food you eat has a big impact on the range and type of microbes in the gut’.
To increase microbiome diversity, eat a wide range of high-fibre plant-based foods and limit your intake of heavily processed foods, alcohol, salt, sweets and sugary drinks, artificial sweeteners and other additives. Adopting a Mediterranean diet – of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains; healthy fats like high-quality extra virgin olive oil; and lean meat or fish – has been shown to improve gut microbiome diversity and reduce inflammation.
You can also support your microbiome by adding natural yoghurt and artisan cheeses, which contain live microbes (probiotics) to your daily diet. Or add ‘natural probiotics’ to your gut via bacteria- and yeast-rich drinks such as kefir (fermented milk) and kombucha (fermented tea), and/or fermented vegetable-based foods, such as sauerkraut and kimchi.
Read the full article in The Conversation.
Source: Coronavirus: how to keep your gut microbiome healthy to fight COVID-19 I The Conversation