For any of us, the Coronavirus pandemic has put the spotlight on our lifestyle and just exactly how healthy are we? From amping up our Vitamin C intake to sticking to a regular exercise routine, the focus is on to build a robust immunity system to fight off infections and viruses.
However, all that may come to a naught if you don't have a healthy gut! Nutritionist and clinical dietitian Shivika Gandhi, founder of The Nutritional Edge agrees. "People are focusing on vitamin C intake for immunity. However, if your gut is not healthy, absorption of nutrients will not be up to the mark. Hence, keeping your gut healthy is an important step towards healthy living," she says.
She says, "There are trillions of creatures living and dying within your body. These are called microbes and majority of them reside in your digestive system. These gut micro-organisms are collectively known as gut microbiota. Most of them are not your enemies as they help in your body’s function.
Did you know your gut houses around 70% of the body’s cells that make up your immune system?"
She adds that the immune system is a group of cells that respond to any foreign substance particularly infectious micro-organisms to protect the body against diseases. Under normal conditions, our body’s immune system boosts the growth of good micro-organisms and helps in maintaining a stable community of these microbes. Healthy microbiota, in turn, produces signals that support the development of immune cells. Such a healthy association between gut microbiota and immune system helps your body fight against pathogens! Both these compartments work together to keep us healthy!
Since your diet greatly impacts your gut microbiota, here is a list of foods that are important for a healthy gut:
"Fibre from oatmeal, whole grains, oat bran, sprouted pulses and fruits with skin is converted into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) by the gut microbiota. SCFAs are associated with good immunity as they support the integrity of the epithelial lining. Moreover, fibre acts a prebiotic and promotes the growth of healthy bacteria."
"Being a great source of probiotic, yogurt can give your immune system a boost. Make sure you are consuming plain yogurt as the flavoured one is high on sugar content!"
"People who consume buttermilk daily have more lactobacilli in their intestines. In a study, lactobacilli were shown to stimulate the immune system through different pathways!"
"Polyphenols from green tea are sent undigested to the colon, where microbes efficiently digest them. Polyphenols are known to reduce inflammation and improve heart health."