In these very odd times, I thought it would be a good opportunity to write about how important the gut is in regards to overall health but most specifically,immunity.
Before the lock down, I noticed swathes of people shopping in my local health food shop - it was panic buying but instead of pasta and loo rolls it was random vitamins, REALLY expensive probiotics but basically anything that the shop was advertising for immunity (a bit naughty on the health food shop's side if I'm being honest). I wanted to stand in the middle of the shop and shout “it’s a bit bloody late to start thinking of your health now!” but thought I’d probably be evicted sharply and I’d waited too long in the queue for my hummus for that to happen, so I kept it shut.
Whilst there are specific nutrients that are good for immunity; C, D, E, B12, Folic Acid, Zinc and selenium (see my vlogs for more information on these) it is important that we get these nutrients through food, not via individual supplements, as this way the body takes what it needs (rather than weeing out any excess or indeed overdosing). I do recommend supplements in my clinic but usually after a thorough consultation and/or functional tests to determine nutrient status.
However, everything starts in the gut (and by gut I mean from your mouth right through to the "other end") and if this has an imbalance, it may impact on your immunity because the food you are eating may not be absorbed or digested effectively. In addition, certain bacteria are there to create other nutrients that ensure the health of the colon and if they are not present in the right amounts, will also have a detrimental effect if not immediately, then potentially sometime in the future.
Ensuring you are eating a diverse diet, taking some exercise that is right for you, sleeping well and making time for relaxation are all things that you can do to prevent the onset of what are called 'lifestyle diseases' (heart disease,obesity, type 2 diabetes etc.) as well as help support your immunity.
However, stool analysis really is the only way we can really see what is going on with your gut microbiome (the microbes in the intestine) and to see if the imbalance of bacteria is impacting on your immunity and overall health. Everyone is individual, there is no one size fits all approach, we all have a different health and life history so my microbiome will be very different from yours!
Eating a diverse range of foods is a great way to start however as the 'good' bacteria needs diversity from different bright, colourful foods in order to thrive and crowd out the bad. You can also include some fermented foods such as kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut etc. (in VERY small amounts to start with) as these feed healthy bacteria.
Start a challenge (may be easier said than done in current times but also maybe easier as you are being forced to eat things you normally wouldn't?) -try and eat 50 different foods in a week (make sure you include lots of vegetables in this list).
Let me know how you get on and check out my Facebook page to see how I got on...