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Immunity And Gut Health

The gut is known to be the second brain of our body. With its own nervous system comprising of millions of neurons that work independently of the brain.

Gut, right from the mouth till anus comprises different activities like ingestion, digestion, absorption, assimilation, and excretion. Each activity is linked with the other for smooth functioning. Gut being the house for millions of bacterias irrespective of good bacterias or bad should be in the ratio 85:15. Few species of bacterias are present in the stomach and small intestine but the highest number in the colon which is a part of the large intestine. In any case if this ratio alters, that means if bad bacterias outnumber the good lead to serious health concerns.

Reasons, why bad bacterias outnumber over good can be,

– Chronic stress

– Very little sleep

– Chronic depression

– Sedentary lifestyle

– Frequent doses of antibiotics

– Eating processed or packaged foods frequently.

These lifestyle changes can take a toll on gut health leading to diseases like diabetes, high lipid profile, obesity, thyroidism, PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) digestive tract infections like Inflammatory Bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic constipation, types of specific cancers, and so on.

The root cause of metabolic diseases/disorders originate in the gut as 70% of our immune system is located in it compared to the body’s overall immune system. It can be developed not just by the supplements but by consuming a gut-friendly diet.

Diet plays an important role in improving gut health. Such diet includes more of the fibers, probiotics, and prebiotics. These three are pillars of stronger gut ultimately our immune system. Unfortunately, the current diet of kids and elders which lack in such factors most of the time deteriorate overall health.

Why consume probiotics and prebiotics?

Consuming probiotics:

These are live, beneficial bacterias in the colon helping to build immunity, defend against pathogens, reduces inflammation in the gut, even, reduces the risk of certain cancers.

Few probiotic-rich food which has been a part of an age-old Indian cuisine viz,

– Curd (as buttermilk or lassi)

– Fermented idli batter (fermenting overnight at optimum temperature)

– Ambil made by fermenting ragi (eaten in some parts of India, Karnataka)

– Kanji (origin – Indian probiotic drink made by fermenting carrot and beetroot)

– Amla murabba (Origin – Indian cuisine)

– Lemon pickle (Origin – Indian cuisine)

– Amla pickle (Origin – Indian cuisine)

To name a few from another cuisine,

– Hummus (Origin – Middle east cuisine, fermented chickpeas)

– Kimchi (Origin – Korean cuisine, made by fermenting cabbage or radish)

Consuming prebiotics:

Probiotics feed on prebiotics. They are to elicit immunity by increasing colonies of good bacterias. They are fibre which cannot be digested by humans but are food for good bacterias in our gut like insoluble fibre.

Prebiotic rich food includes,

– Raw onions, garlic, raw salad

– Starchy vegetables like potato (along with the skin), sweet potato,

– Fruits (with the skin wherever possible) like apple and banana,

– Leafy vegetables, beans

– Grains like wheat, jowar, ragi, bajra, oats.

Many times non-vegetarians lack these. Including 2-3 portions of vegetables and fruits everyday and fermented food at least thrice a week to help boost immunity.

The brain and the gut are connected via a single nerve called the Vagas Nerve. It is an important communication pathway between the gut micro-organisms (microbiota) and the brain. Any changes (good or bad) in the gut largely affects mental health.

Remember, your diet can make or break your immune system to a greater extent.

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