Using Your Gut to Fight COVID-19
No doubt you are busy washing your hands, keeping your hands away from your face, and minimising physical contact to help prevent COVID-19. While you may feel a lack of control over transpiring events, there are steps you can take to optimise your immune system.
Building a healthy immune system means you need to give your gut some love. Our gut is our largest immune organ so it makes sense that we need to nurture it so it can help us out!
We have over 2 kg of microorganisms living in our gut that communicate with and help develop our immune system. These resident bacteria are essential to ensure we mount a normal immune response, and to protect us from pathogenic bacteria and viruses.
While we protect ourselves on the outside from the virus, we can also strengthen our inside for a robust immune system. We can create a diverse and healthy gut microbiota with what we eat, how we sleep and how we exercise. Research shows that a healthy gut microbiota can offer protection from infectious pathogens. Here are some strategies to make your immune system fighting fit.
Eat For Your Gut Health
Eating plant based foods that are high in prebiotic fibre will feed your microbiota and your health! If getting your hands on fresh produce is a bit trickier, canned chickpeas and lentils will also provide a great source of fuel to keep your gut microbiota happy and your immune system on alert.
The microbiota accessible carbohydrates in Fertile Gut are proven prebiotics that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Missing out on prebiotic fibre, even intermittently in your diet, can disrupt your gut microbiota promoting inflammation and dampening your immune system. Getting a daily dose of prebiotic fibre will help optimise your gut microbiota for a robust immune response.
Sleep For Your Gut Health
Sleep is probably the single most important thing we can do to ensure physiological and mental health. Without sleep, our immune system is not as effective at fighting off viruses.
Greater gut diversity (which we know is so good for our reproductive health!) has been associated with promoting a better-quality night's sleep. This isn't too surprising given the positive metabolites produced in a healthy, diverse gut and the benefits for our brain and physiology.
Levels of inflammation in the gut that are modulated by our gut microbiota, can also promote or hinder sleep.
A more diverse gut microbiota is positively correlated with increased sleep efficiency and total sleep time, and reduced sleep fragmentation. This means that you get to sleep quicker once your head hits the pillow, you wake less, and that because you are falling asleep quicker for the same time in bed you get more hours sleeping!
Your immune system will thank you, and you may just get some more sleep, by looking after your gut friends.
Exercise for Your Gut Health
Exercise can increase the proportion of beneficial bacteria living in our gut, increasing the incredible short chain fatty acids that promote health and fertility. Exercise is also a natural immune booster.
Exercise promotes diversity and beneficial bacterial populations, and if you exercise regularly, you are less likely to experience colds, flu and other illnesses.
If our gut friends are starved of the microbiota accessible carbohydrates (prebiotic fibre) required for creating a diverse gut community, our immune system suffers. And believe it or not - our endurance performance will decline too!
Your to do list for optimal immunity?
1. Eat prebiotic fibre to nurture your good gut bacteria.
2. Ensure you are getting adequate sleep for a healthy immune system.
3. Get outside in the fresh air for a walk, or roll out your mat for a home strength session.
Stay safe everyone!