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Published: December 2, 2020

Supporting Your Immune System - The Connection Between Your Brain and Gut

By: Dr. Fiona Lovely, DC

Recently, a panel of AST experts joined forces to discuss the important topic of immunity. I had the pleasure of sharing the connections between the brain and the gut and below are just a few of my takeaways.

The human immune system is made up (in part) by the 4.4lbs of organisms (100 trillion of them!) which make up the human microflora, or microbiome and cells of the lining of the gut. The health and stability of the microbiome is what you are establishing and feeding when you take your daily probiotic. Think of it like a garden to be cultivated. They are bacteria, parasites, fungi, virus living within us and helping to regulate the system. They even contribute to our DNA, our genetic makeup and our ability to adapt to any environment. Poor diet, stress, chronic disease and antibiotic therapy will diminish or eliminate the bugs of our gut. You must re-seed the garden after antibiotics and it must be inoculated with a high quality probiotic supplement ongoing. I am often asked why it is important to eat organic - remember this, the pesticides, fungicides, etc that are sprayed on our produce are not fruit and vegetable selective! They will kill off your microbiome too.

The health of these systems, the microbiome, your organ reserves and health and your voluntary inputs (nutrition, stress management, exercise, etc.) make up the terrain that dictates how healthy you are. Terrain is the term used to describe the inner environment of a human being.  The health of the terrain explains why some get sick and some do not.

What can you do to help the health of your gut?

Let’s look at stress. When you are experiencing stress, your defences diminish because the brain is sending resources to the stress response system. We are living through one of the most intensely stressful times in our history, so if you are feeling stress, you aren’t alone. Stress is our current way of life, it isn’t going away anytime soon, you cannot control it. But what you can control is your response to something stressful. Are there calming thoughts you can have when something stressful comes up? Can you pause to meditate or incorporate meditation into your daily routine?

Take a closer look at all of the different things that you are consuming daily. News? Negative people? Toxic relationships or stinking thinking? Are you a complainer? Do you engage in drama? All of these things encourage you to have both negative thinking and a survival response. When you are surviving, your blood flow shunts from the extremities to the core organs resulting in your immune system taking a back seat to critical functions.

Here are three things you can start doing today to help with gut health and thus, immunity too:

  • Here's a quick way to check your breathing. (One hand on your chest, one on the belly and eyes closed. Take three deep breaths. Which hand moves more?). Chest breathing happens when we are sympathetic dominant or in survival mode. When you breath shallowly, your brain gets the signal that you aren’t safe, which deepens the survival mode, it can last for years! So, soften belly while you breath, exhale longer than you inhale.
  • Get your gut right by eating the foods which heal rather than inflame the lining of your intestines. Identify food allergies and eliminate them from your diet. Eat probiotic and prebiotic foods, and ensure you supplement daily.
  • Have a gratitude habit. Start to recognize where and what and whom you can be thankful for. Gratitude lowers inflammation, boosts immunity and makes you better looking too!

Healthy mind = healthy brain = healthy gut = healthy immunity = health.

*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  

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