As I often like to point out, around 80% of our immune system cells are located in the gut. This explains why a healthy gut microbiome has been linked with a strong immune system, a well-functioning digestive system, glowing skin, strong hair and nails, and even improvements in mood. Your gut microbiome is your body’s first line of defence against pathogens – disease-causing viruses, bad bacteria, and other microorganisms. By keeping your gut microbes healthy and happy throughout winter, you’ll be more prepared to combat any nasties that come your way.
There are a number of simple, natural ways you can support your gut health so that you feel well both physically and mentally, and your immune system is armed for the task of seeing off any unwelcome pathogens and keeping us free of colds, flu and other bugs over the winter months.
I would like to share this very helpful ‘Eat a rainbow’ infographic from The British Association of Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT). In addition to showing you some of the most beneficial foods to put on your plate at meal times, there are some key lifestyle tips as well, including supplementing with Vitamin D, a good daily multivitamin, and probiotics.
You can nourish and support your gut and immune health in the following ways:
- Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. These provide a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, but they’re also a good source of fibre – the fuel for good bacteria.
- Include nuts, seeds, and legumes in your diet such as cashews (unsalted), walnuts, pumpkin seeds, lentils, red kidney beans. These are an excellent source of protein and fibre.
- Eat lots of whole grains such as barley, brown rice, bulgur, millet, oats, quinoa, wholewheat breads and cereals. These will provide another great source of dietary fibre.
- Try a wide range of both natural and whole foods, as they will help promote a diverse microbiome and this, in turn, will support your immune system through the winter.
- Add these items to your shopping basket – broccoli, garlic, onions, almonds, apples, bananas and foods that contain cultures of bacteria including kimchi, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut and live yoghurt. If you get a bit gassy and bloated after these foods, this should not prevent you from eating them, just take one of our natural Digestive Enzymes tablets before eating such a meal, to help with proper digestion and reduction in intestinal gas.
- Last but by no means least, support your gut and immune system with specific food supplements including the ones mentioned on the infographic, as well as Live Bacteria probiotic capsules (take one daily with a glass of cold water before breakfast or bed), one Garlic tablet taken with dinner and a daily Omega 3 capsule with lunch.