We need probiotics to maintain a healthy balance of 80% “good” bacteria in a high functioning digestive system, but did you know that the presence of “good” bacteria in the intestinal tract is also closely tied to brain function and mood?
According to Medical News Today in the September 7, 2016 article entitled “Gut Bacteria and the Brain – Are we controlled by microbes?” and the infographic How Gut Bacteria Affects the Brain and Body by Tim Newman (Source: Huffington Post, Nov. 10, 2016), “Another key observation linked dysbiosis (microbial imbalance) with autism. Children with autism often have abnormal and less diverse communities of bacteria in their gut. This brings to bear the observation that “autism often co-occurs with gastrointestinal issues like leaky gut or irritable bowel syndrome.” Thus, consuming the healthy bacteria found in probiotics as well as “prebiotics can have anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects.”
What can we do to establish a healthy digestive tract and support a healthy immune system that is up and running to protect our families and help keep illness at bay? Here are some suggestions:
“Boost the Beneficial Bacteria: 80 percent of your immune system is in your digestive tract. Research validates the connection between healthy gut flora and overall immunity.1
“Add Foods that Support Immune Health: There are many foods with medicinal properties; make sure you include as many as possible. Think about combining a lot of the ingredients below in chicken soup:
“Oranges strawberries potatoes and other fruits and veggies rich in Vitamin C and E are all rich in essentials for the immune system.
- Shiitake, Maitake, and other mushrooms have been used, especially in Traditional Chinese Medicine, for boosting the immune system.2
“Garlic and onions not only add great flavor and aroma but have also been researched for their ability to modulate immune function.
In it’s Health and Wellness News November 1, 2016 issue, “Strategies to Stay Healthy This Winter”, Shaklee’s excellent counsel continues,
“Add These Helpful Herbs: Research supports the immune-modulating activity of turmeric4, oregano, ginger5, echinacea6, larch7, and elderberry8. Some of these also make a great tea.
‘Make Sure You Are Getting the Right Nutrients: Your immune system needs to be well nourished to function at its best. Stock up on the following nutrients:
- Macro-Nutrients: The macro-nutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Focus on lean protein; it is essential for a healthy immune system.9 Supplement with EPA and DHA, or eat fish twice a week for those healthy omega-3 fats.10
- Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamins such as vitamin A, B6, B12, E C, folate, and the minerals zinc, copper and iron all support an effective immune response.11
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D, in particular, has been the focus of research on optimal immune system functioning. Vitamin D plays a role in improving mucus membrane barrier functioning, the production of antimicrobial peptides (small proteins), and overall immune support.12
‘Protect your immune system by starting early, taking good care of yourself, and feeding your body the nutrients it needs to stay strong.”
In addition, supplementing the diet with Optiflora probiotics can have a significant impact in improving mood and reducing anxiety, as well as on overall immune health.
1Purchiaroni F, Tortora A, Gabrielli M, et al. The role of intestinal microbiota and the immune system. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2013 Feb;17(3):323-33. PMID: 23426535.
2Vannucci L, Krizan J, Sima P, et al. Immunostimulatory properties and antitumor activities of glucans (Review). Int J Oncol. 2013 Aug;43(2):357-64. PMID: 2373980.
3Ali M, Thomson M, Afzal M. Garlic and onions: their effect on eicosanoid metabolism and its clinical relevance. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2000 Feb;62(2):55-73. PMID: 10780871.
4Gautam SC, Gao X, Dulchavsky S. Immunomodulation by curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:321-41.PMID: 17569218.
5Butt MS, Sultan MT. Ginger and its health claims: molecular aspects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2011 May;51(5):383 93. PMID: 21491265.
6Hudson JB. Applications of the phytomedicine Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) in infectious diseases. J Biomed Biotechnol. 2012;2012:769896. PMID: 22131823.
7Kelly GS. Larch arabinogalactan: clinical relevance of a novel immune-enhancing polysaccharide. Altern Med Rev. 1999 Apr;4(2):96-103. PMID: 10231609.
8Roxas M, Jurenka J. Colds and influenza: a review of diagnosis and conventional, botanical, and nutritional considerations. Altern Med Rev. 2007 Mar;12(1):25-48. PMID: 17397266.
9Li P, Yin YL, Li D, Kim SW, Wu G. Amino acids and immune function. Br J Nutr. 2007 Aug;98(2):237-52. Epub 2007 Apr 3. PMID: 17403271.
10Das UN. Essential fatty acids in health and disease. J Assoc Physicians India.1999 Sep;47(9):906-11. PMID: 10778663.
11Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH. Contribution of selected vitamins and trace elements to immune function. Ann Nutr Metab. 2007;51(4):301-23. Epub 2007Aug 28. PMID: 17726308.
12Schwalfenberg GK. A review of the critical role of vitamin D in the functioning of the immune system and the clinical implications of vitamin D deficiency. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 Jan;55(1):96-108. PMID: 20824663.