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Build Up Your Immune System

by Tieraona Low Dog, M.D.

One of the best investments you can make is in your health and wellness, but this is a transformation that doesn't happen overnight. With the winter season upon us, it’s the perfect time to reevaluate your habits to ensure you are feeling your best this year and beyond. One place to start is your gut health.

With 80 percent of your immune system residing in and around your gastrointestinal tract, your gut plays a crucial role in immune function. There is also a bidirectional communication between the brain and the gut. When we feel anxious or moody, it can be the cause or the result of an unhappy GI tract. A thriving population of beneficial bacteria in the gut is vital for supporting immune and mental health. How do you know if your gut might not be running tip top? Are you bothered by:

• Occasional gas and bloating
• Occasional constipation and/or diarrhea
• Intermittent heartburn
• Food intolerances
• Moodiness
• Sleep problems

If you’re feeling one or more of these symptoms, or are simply looking to improve your gut health, here are a few things to consider.

Food is Always First
Having a wide diversity of food in your diet, especially high-fiber fruits and vegetables, leads to a greater diversity of microbiota. Your microbiota is a complex community of trillions of microorganisms that inhabit your skin, nose, mouth, gut and more, and play a vital role in maintaining your health. These little microbes extract and synthesize vitamins and other nutrients from your food. They regulate digestion, metabolism and elimination, and fine-tune your immune system.

Whenever possible, choose organic foods. Be sure to include probiotic-rich foods such as kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, low sugar yogurt and fermented soy. You can also eat more prebiotic foods such as oats, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans and whole grains—to promote the growth of healthy microbiota. Think of prebiotics as "food" for probiotics.

Optimize and Support with a Probiotic Supplement
Optimizing and supporting the beneficial bacteria in your gut is one of the best things you can do for your health.

Remember There are Things to Avoid
As beneficial as it is to know what’s good for your gut it’s just as important to have a clear understanding of what’s not. Glyphosate – the number one herbicide in the world – is commonly used as a desiccant to speed up the drying process on crops, so there’s a good chance this weed killer is in the food you and your family eat every day. Animal studies suggest that glyphosate can disrupt the microbiota, decreasing diversity and numbers of beneficial bacteria. Try: MegaFood®, the first supplement company to have the entire brand certified Glyphosate Residue Free.

Limit foods with added sugars. You might not realize it but excessive sugar intake can negatively alter your gut flora. Unfortunately, antibiotics are a known disruptor of the gut microflora. While they’re sometimes unavoidable for the treatment of non-viral infections, make sure to restore the balance to your gut with extra probiotics and fermented foods and beverages.

Manage Stress. In addition to these pivotal factors, it’s important to note that making changes in your routine can improve gut health. For example, getting a handle on stress by taking walks in nature, integrating mind-body practices such as breathing and yoga, and occasionally “unplugging” from technology will have positive results on gut health. Movement can be helpful in addressing uncomfortable GI symptoms such as gas, bloating and indigestion. You need a good night’s sleep to maintain optimal gut flora; a lack of sleep diminishes bacteria diversity.

This year, resolve to pay careful attention to your gut in an effort to achieve great wellness for many years to come.

If you still have personal questions about your digestive health, speaking with a natural healthcare practitioner may be just what you need. drlowdog.com

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