The gastrointestinal tract is a major part of our digestive system, and it contains trillions of microbes that make up the gut microbiome. As the gut is our body’s main entryway for foreign antigens, its health is essential for a strong immune system. “We can introduce strategies in our life that can help manipulate our gut flora,” says Sara Celik, a naturopathic doctor and spokesperson for Renew Life®. Here, she shares five habits that may help support immune function and maintain gut health.
Focus on quality sleep.
Most adults need from seven to nine hours of sleep a night to function optimally, but the time frame in which you’re sleeping is just as important. Our adrenal glands, which play an important role in regulating our immune system, repair themselves between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. To optimize adrenal function, aim to be asleep during this time.
Reduce your sugar intake.
Glucose and other simple carbohydrates may reduce phagocytosis (a process that defends against infection) for at least five hours after consumption, says Celik, therefore consuming sugar multiple times a day creates a cycle of reduced immune function. If you must indulge, limit your sugar intake to once per day to reduce the length of time your defenses are compromised.
Incorporate prebiotic-rich foods into your diet.
Diet can greatly impact the makeup of the gut microbiome, so it’s important to fuel up with foods that support healthy gut bacteria. Garlic, onions, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes and unripe bananas are all high in prebiotics and feed the beneficial bacteria living in your gut.
Consider a daily probiotic supplement.
Probiotics work to restore gut flora and promote digestive health, strengthening the area where 70 percent of our immune cells live. Since not all probiotics are the same, look for one that contains clinically studied strains for immune support.
Try to minimize stress levels.
Chronic stress can suppress the immune system, which increases the risk of viral infection. Managing sleep and diet, as mentioned above, are great ways to reduce stress in the body.
Try Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotic Plus Immune Support
Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotic Plus Immune Support ($27, at health-food stores across Canada) supplements contain 30 billion active cultures and five probiotic strains to support gastrointestinal health and immune function.
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