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Improve gut health and immunity to protect yourself this cold and flu season
Winter is fast-approaching, and we’ve already got cosy fireside chats, yummy red wine, and comfy chunky knits on the mind. But with the colder months come a few things that we’re a little less excited about. Yep, you guessed it. It's the cold and flu season.
Given we’ve just experienced what was essentially a 2-year cold and flu season (with Covid making a few too many unwanted appearances), we’ve all likely learnt how important it is to protect ourselves and others from illness.
You’re probably already pretty familiar with some of the things you can do to stop the spread of illness, such as washing your hands and wearing a mask, but did you know that keeping a healthy gut is one of the best things you can do to avoid getting sick in the first place?
Connecting the gut microbiome and immune system
A strong immune system is critical in protecting you not only from the seasonal sniffles, but also from other serious infections and viruses. And believe it or not, the health of your gut has a very big impact on the health of your immune system. In fact, it’s believed that 70% of your immune system is in your gut.
To put it simply, the gut microbiome (all the good bacteria in your gut) and your immune system work together to create your body’s defence and to fight off infection. Most of your immune cells live in your gut, and your gut microbiome “trains” those immune cells to know what's “good” and what's “bad”.
That's why your body reacts when you eat a certain food that you’re allergic or intolerant to. It’s also why what you put into your gut is so important. Eat poorly, and you throw the balance of your gut out of whack, which in turn will impact your immune system.
So, while it’s easy to go a bit crazy indulging in your favourite comfort foods during the colder months, you need to make sure you’re looking after your gut. Eating foods that are nutrient-dense and easily digestible will help your body function at its best.
If, on the other hand, you forget to stock up on the winter veggies, drink a few too many glasses of red by the fire, or you go crazy on the full-cream hot chocolates when you’re lactose-intolerant, it’s likely that your gut isn’t going to be too happy with you. Eating the wrong kinds of foods can lead to an imbalance of bad bacteria in the gut, meaning you’ll be a lot more prone to the winter sniffles.
How to improve gut health and immunity
Fortunately, improving your gut health is quite simple! For the most part, you want to make sure you’re eating a healthy and balanced diet. Aim to eat nutritional and wholesome foods like veggies, fruits, good fats and whole grains. The less processed food you eat, the happier your gut will be.
Being aware of your allergies and food intolerances is also important. Sure, you’re “lactose intolerant” and only drink almond milk in your lattes. But if you can’t resist a sunset cheeseboard or block of chocolate while you binge-watch the new season of Bridgerton, your gut ain’t going to like you for it (no matter how good it tastes).
If you want to be super-cautious (and make your gut love you even more,) there are a few key foods you can try to limit in order to improve gut health and immunity. These foods are known to be harmful to good bacteria and can lead to gut issues:
- Refined sugar
- Red meat
- Processed foods
For an extra bonus, try incorporating probiotics into your everyday life. They’re usually taken in supplement form, but are also found in foods, such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi and kefir.
How can probiotics help your immune system?
Probiotics are great for gut health, therefore they’re great for your immune system. Probiotics contain small strains of good bacteria called Lactobacillus, which helps them balance out the bad bacteria. When consumed, the Lactobacillus helps to restore your natural balance, particularly when your immune system is a bit out of whack.
Probiotics are not only beneficial in helping fight off illness during the cold and flu season, they’re also amazing for relieving digestive discomfort and bloating, restoring beneficial gut flora, improving mental health, skin, sleep quality and heart and brain health. So while you should definitely make sure you’re looking after your gut health during winter, it should be a priority all year round.
Take control and improve your gut health and immunity
It can be hard to stay on top of your health and well-being, but we’re trying to help you change that by proactively normalising the conversation around women’s health. If you’re curious about taking probiotics to improve your gut health and immunity, check out our Probiotic Pro Range.
Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Supplements may only be of assistance if dietary intake is inadequate. Do not use if cap seal is broken.