Can your gut help your immune system?

It's time to make mates with your microbiome 

Want fewer sick days? A healthy gut could be the key.

Home to trillions of microorganisms, the gut’s main job is to digest food and take in minerals and nutrients. But that’s not all – it also plays a huge role in immunity. In fact, the gut houses around 70 percent (yes, 70!) of the immune system.

The upshot? If you want to be fighting fit, it’s worth thinking about your gut health.

 

Get to know your gut

There’s no single way to measure your gut health (boo!), but there are a few things you can look out for.

If you have a diet that’s high in fibre and plant-based foods, and you tend to be careful about how much ultra-processed foods, sugars, sweeteners and preservatives you eat, then chances are you’ve got ‘good’ gut bacteria. Also, if you rarely catch a cold or experience gut symptoms (we’re talking bloating, reflux and constipation), your gut health is more likely to be in check. Go you!

 

Immune system 101

As most health junkies know, the immune system is the body’s defence against illness and infection, and it works by trying to destroy any unfamiliar cells (like viruses and bacteria).

There’s lots we can do to help our immune cells work at their best. As well as eating healthily, getting our daily vitamins and taking other steps (like washing our hands regularly), we’ve gathered some tried and tested ways to help nourish the immune system.

 

Gut-friendly tips

Be balanced

Variety is the spice of life! Having a diverse gut microbiome (that’s the combination of bacteria, yeasts and fungi that live in your gut) will help to make sure your immune system is nice and healthy.

One of the easiest ways to do this is by eating a wide variety of plant-based foods, including fruit, veg, wholegrains, legumes, nuts and seeds. We’d suggest you aim to eat 30 different plant-based foods per week. The more, the merrier!

Get moving

Whether you run, walk, squat or dance, find an exercise you love and roll with it – your gut will thank you for it later.

Not only does breaking a sweat boost your overall wellbeing, regular exercise can also change the make-up of your gut microbiome – win, win. If you’re struggling to find your fitness mojo, we can help you out with our tips and tricks.

Hit snooze

A great way to give your microbes a helping hand? Get some shut eye. Try to kick back, relax and clock between seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Better yet, try 15 minutes of mindfulness before hitting the hay to help relax the gut-brain axis. Bliss.

Dabble in friendly bacteria

Friendly bacteria are all the rage right now. From kefir to kimchi to sauerkraut, these hero foods are thought to help restore the natural balance of bacteria in your gut.

Not quite ready to dive into the unknown? Don’t stress. Good bacteria are also found in yoghurts, certain types of cheese, sourdough and pickles. Gut-friendly picnic coming right up!

Fill up on fibre

We all know that fibre is good for us. As well as feeding our gut bacteria, it can help keep us regular (if you know what we mean).

From porridge oats to granary bread, lentils to beans, it’s important to get your fibre from a variety of sources. If you’re struggling to squeeze the recommended daily dose in (that’s 30g, by the way), don’t sweat it. Why not consider Boots Good Gut Daily Fibre Sachets? Not only do they help you reach your fibre target, they’re also packed with aloe vera, L-glutamine, and calcium to support normal digestion.

  

Keen to learn more about gut health? Check out our Boots Live Well interview where we chat with Dr Megan Rossi about all things digestion, immunity and more. As a registered dietitian and nutritionist with a PhD in gut health from the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Queensland, Australia, it’s safe to say that she knows a thing of two about gut health!