The Link Between Your Microbiome, Your Immune System
You may have heard a lot of talk lately about your Microbiome and wondered “what’s the big deal”? Why is this so important and what does it have to do with my health?
What is a Microbiome? Learn.Genetics describes it as “the full collection of genes of all the microbes in a community. The human microbiome (all of our microbes’ genes) can be considered a counterpart to the human genome (all of our genes). The genes in our microbiome outnumber the gene in our genome by about 100 to 1.
Essentially your microbiome is made up of good bacteria and later in life we acquire bad bacteria. All babies born vaginally get their first dose of microbes from their mother through the birth canal. Babies born by C-Section are colonized mainly by skin microbes.
Throughout our lives these microbes or bacteria, which are located in our digestive tract, help us to digest our food and absorb nutrients, play a major role in our metabolism, physiology and most importantly our immune function.
Of critical importance is that 70% of our immune system resides in our gut (stomach and intestinal tract). So if your gut flora is not in optimal balance disease can set in.
Chronic Imbalance of the normal gut microbiota have been linked to gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and other diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and atopy which affect whole systems.
How does this affect cancer?
These continued imbalances of gut flora, good bacteria versus bad bacteria, have in recent years been linked to more and more types of cancer as well as other degenerative diseases.
Part of the problem comes from the high use of antibiotics, antiseptic hand sanitizers, medications, chlorinated water, pesticides, herbicides, surgery, chemo and radiation, poor food choices and much more.
What’s more, in 2013 two independent teams of scientists, made an unexpected discovery. They treated both germ free mice and mice treated with a heavy dose of antibiotics to a variety of cancer therapies that are typically effective in rodents and discovered that they did not respond positively to the treatments. Both teams then, independently, went on to discover that when they administered the same drugs to mice that had healthy microbiomes the outcome for improved survival was much higher.
Gut bacteria and cancers
As an example, individuals who suffer from acid reflux, GERD and or stomach ulcers are at higher risk of developing stomach cancer. This is because all of these conditions are caused by the H. Pylori bacteria. Therefore, if your gut microbiome is deficient or unbalanced it cannot properly regulate and destroy this bacterium.
Scientists have also recently discovered that a healthy gut flora supports your immune system to help you fight cancer. Your microbiome, if healthy, can also enhance the effectiveness of several types of chemotherapy drugs.
But while science has just begun to investigate this phenomenon and until they understand the how and why it works there are many ways you can help enhance your microbiome to deal with cancer and other disease.
Keeping your Gut and Immune System Healthy
- Avoid using antibiotics – antibiotics indiscriminately wipe out all your good bacteria along with the bad they are sent to wipe out. What happens next is that without many good ones left the cycle usually repeats itself and your infection returns. Just one round of antibiotics can negatively impact your gut microbiome for up to an entire year.
- Take a good quality live probiotic supplement – They will help to repopulate your good gut bacteria and regulate imbalances thereby boosting your immune system. Best probiotics are available in the refrigerator section of your local health food store. If you’ve recently been on antibiotics or have been in the past start with a high dose count of at least 50 Billion cells.
- Eat fermented foods – foods such as Kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi, quality yogurt, kombucha and tempeh all contain their own probiotics. Choose only organic sources and when buying yogurt select those without added sugar or fruit.
- Avoid commercially grown foods – these contain pesticides and herbicides that kill your gut bacteria. Instead choose organic as much as possible.
- Eat a wide range of vegetables, beans and legumes and fruit – these whole foods contain less sugar, than processed fruit juices, and fibre for which helps your gut bacteria grow. It also helps move things along your colon for better elimination. Fibre is considered a “prebiotic” which feeds good bacteria.
- Don’t use artificial sweeteners – They have been shown to negatively affect your gut bacteria and can increase blood sugar levels and harm insulin response.
- Avoid/reduce consumption of all sugars – sugars promote the growth of bad bacteria and in turn can lead to Candida overload. https://iquitsugar.com/it-all-starts-in-your-gut/
- Avoid chlorinated water – the chlorine destroys your gut bacteria and impairs your immune system and digestion. At the very least filter your tap water (good choices available at health food stores) or purchase a system for your sink that purifies it before the tap. A Reverse Osmosis system is an excellent choice and can be rented from some companies instead of purchase.
Also keep in mind that bathing in chlorinated pools especially indoor ones is very hazardous as well. Besides being very drying for your skin and hair it also gets absorbed through your pores (your largest organ) and into your tissues. When using indoor pools you’re also inhaling the toxic fumes into your lungs.
- Reduce chronic stress – stress alters the gut-brain connection which leads to digestive problems, increased heart rate, decreased nutrient absorption etc.
Your gut bacteria are extremely important to your health. Take care of it with these helpful tips and it will take care of you.