Your Top Questions About the Immune System, Answered

Your Top Questions About the Immune System, Answered
Over the last few weeks, you’ve asked us many questions about immunity. We asked Michael Loreto, M.Sc., to answer some of the trickier ones.

Question: What’s the relationship between inflammation and the immune system?

Answer: Inflammation is key to protecting the body from unknown objects and foreign threats. However, too much inflammation can be harmful; a pro-inflammatory state has been linked to many conditions that are more prevalent today, like heart disease, type II diabetes and osteoarthritis and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease.

Some factors that can be linked to a chronic activation of this immune response include poor diet (that’s missing phytochemicals—which we’ll get to in a moment), poor sleep, lack of exercise, too much stress and a lack of connection with the natural environment.

Q: Can a healthy gut support a healthy immune response?

A: Researchers are suggesting that up to 75-80% of our immune system resides inside our gut. What that tells us is that by promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria (i.e. a healthy gut ecosystem), we are supporting bacteria that are absolutely critical to our body’s immune defense. Almost every week, there’s more fascinating research coming out about how these microbial populations communicate with the rest of our body, and how they help to coordinate our immune defense—and how these microbes can help us to not tip the scales into that pro-inflammatory state (in other words, that over-activated, long-term immune response).

Out of all the factors that are linked to a chronic activation of an immune response, diet is the #1 area that we can look to for the biggest return on our investment and improvement of our health and wellness, energy and overall wellbeing, through making a few pretty simple changes. Plus, many benefits of a healthy diet can be seen in the gut.

In order to support your gut health to support a healthy immune response, eat more plant foods! Fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients that tend to be anti-inflammatory, and also act as prebiotics, fuel for your gut bacteria! By consuming plant foods in sufficient quantities, you can promote the growth of a healthy and robust gut ecosystem. This provides a myriad of downstream benefits to the entire body! From the networks of communication, to the production of beneficial postbiotic metabolites, such as acetate and butyrate.

By targeting our gut and doing the best we can at consuming a gut-friendly, plant-focused diet, we’re really giving those microbes the best chance to promote a healthy and balanced immune response.

Q: What are some specific tips & tricks for strengthening the gut microbiome and immune system?

A: From the world of supplementation, one of the most exciting categories receiving the most amount of research is probiotics—specifically when it comes to immune support.
There is more being learned about how these microbes have been essential to our health for thousands of years. The problem is that as a society, we have lost contact with these beneficial microorganisms.

Finding ways to reintroduce these microorganisms into our diet is important. Fermented foods can be a great option, but oftentimes, you will get a lower dose of probiotics (and fewer diverse strains) from them than you would if you were taking a high-quality probiotic supplement like advanced gut health probiotic.

There has been research on a lot of real-world health outcomes of taking a probiotic supplement---like duration of cold symptoms, number of sick days and the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections. There has been great clinical data showing that by taking a daily probiotic, you can see significant improvements across all of these areas.

Made with 15 diverse strains in a guaranteed CFU, and encapsulated in a plastic-free capsule that resists stomach acid, advanced gut health probiotic was formulated to deliver more healthy bacteria to the gut—for better digestive and immune health.
Michael Loreto, M.Sc.
Michael Loreto, M.Sc.

Michael received both his Bachelor and Master's of Science at the University of Guelph studying Human Health and Nutrition, with a specific focus on the health benefits of dietary fiber. He now works on product innovations as part of the New Product Development team at Genuine Health.

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