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:

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.  

Fermented Foods and Why They are Good for You

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By: Active Sports Therapy with photo credit to local Calgary producer of Kombucha TRUE BÜCH KOMBUCHA

Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and other fermented foods are making their way back into people’s diet. The benefits are many and the science is supportive, so let’s take a closer look at why these super-foods are so helpful.

Fermented foods experience a process; a chemical reaction in which the naturally occurring bacteria feeds on the sugar and starch in the food. The result is lactic acid. This process acts as a preservative for the food overall which helps to preserve its’ nutrients. It also results in the creation of b-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of beneficial probiotics and enzymes.

The main reason to consume fermented foods is for your gut health. Consuming these foods can increase the amount of healthy bacteria in your digestive system. The benefits you may experience will be better digestion, absorption and your body may be able to better absorb nutrients. These healthy bacteria also play a role in the function of our immune system and mental health.

You can try to eliminate refined, high sugar foods from your diet and instead include probiotic-rich fermented foods to bring your gut into a healthy state of balance.

Here are some examples of fermented foods you can incorporate into your diet:

Active Sports Therapy can provide services in Integrated Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine, and Holistic Nutritional Counseling. Visit our Team or Services page to learn more.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]