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Gut health has become an increasingly popular topic of discussion within wellness communities, and for a good reason. Not only does the health of your gut microbiome affect how well your body digests food and absorbs crucial nutrients, but it also houses around 70% of the body’s immune system.

The gut is a key player in fighting infection and preventing diseases from developing, and as an added benefit, knowing of this connection between the gut and the immune system offers a new way to improve our immunity—by improving the gut microbiome.

Why Is Gut Health Important?

Gut health relies on a balance in the gut microbiome, or the bacteria and yeast in the digestive system. This balance is important, as the gut is where the body gets rid of metabolic waste and toxins. With an unhealthy gut, which can occur due to an imbalance in the bacteria, the body may be unable to rid itself of toxins. When toxins remain, they can cause illness, inflammation, and fatigue, among other symptoms.

Signs of an unhealthy and unbalanced gut include:

  • Persistent tiredness
  • An upset stomach
  • Intolerance to certain foods
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Food cravings (especially sugar)
  • Unintentional weight changes
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Unusual skin irritations
  • Problems with immune system

The brain and gut are connected, with the gut housing the body’s “second brain.” There’s a reason why the saying is to “go with your gut,” it’s because your gut is sending signals just like the brain does.

However, this connection between the brain and gut—and our growing understanding of it—makes it all the more apparent that gut health is crucial for healthy living. The gut controls everything from digestion to nutrient absorption, and these actions can communicate with the brain, causing emotional shifts.

Perhaps one of the most important roles of the gut, though, and the area where you may first notice dysfunction, is with the immune system.

How Microbiome Function Is Linked To Immune Response

The gut and your immune system are closely linked, meaning a change in one can affect the other.

Generally, a healthy immune system relies on a range of different beneficial bacteria, all in equal balance with each other. This balance is key for proper microbiome function, and something as simple as not eating enough fiber can result in an imbalance.

As for your gut’s role in immunity, the bacteria in your gut can identify pathogens and start the immune response against them, ordering specialized immune cells to produce proteins that eliminate the infection. However, if your gut microbiome is unbalanced, it may be unable to mount an effective attack against invading pathogens, allowing them to remain in the body and reproduce, resulting in infection.

The bacteria in your gut also help prevent autoimmune disorders by teaching your T-cells—immune cells that destroy invaders—what is foreign and which is your body’s own tissue. If your gut is imbalanced, the T-cells don’t receive as much in-depth training, which can ignite autoimmune responses.

The Role Of Bifidobacterium In Immune Health

While the gut houses thousands of different bacterial species, one subset, in particular, bifidobacterium, is seeing increasing significance in regard to its role in your immune health.

Bifidobacteria help your body digest fiber, prevent infection, and produce compounds such as healthy fatty acids and B vitamins. There are nearly 50 different bifidobacterial species, yet despite their importance in your gut health, they generally comprise only 10% of the bacteria in your gut microbiome.

Beyond the crucial roles of bifidobacterium, their low counts have been linked to many diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic disorders, and this is largely because of their role in digesting fiber.

Fiber has been shown to reduce weight gain and the risk of these diseases, but the body cannot digest fiber on its own. Bifidobacteria help digest fiber and produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) as a by-product, which improve gut health by decreasing gut pH levels and increasing the diversity of the gut microbiome, building its defense system.

Bifidobacteria support the immune system in other ways, as well. They produce chemicals that prevent toxins from passing into the blood, which can prevent infections from other bacteria, like E. coli. They also produce B vitamins, which support cell health and energy levels.

Renowned gastroenterologist Dr. Sabine Hazan, in her testimony before Congress, stated that, according to her research, the lack of bifidobacteria is a major determining factor of whether someone who comes into contact with a pathogen gets sick from it.

Research has also shown that low numbers of bifidobacteria are seen in multiple diseases, such as celiac disease, allergic asthma, obesity, and diabetes. However, bifidobacteria supplementation can help. One study found that taking a bifidobacteria probiotic improved symptoms of IBS, and another saw a reduction in inflammation. It’s also been seen that bifidobacteria supplementation can reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol.


Healthy Gut, Healthy Body: How to Boost Gut Health and Immunity

Now that we know how important gut health is for your immune system, it’s important to understand what may affect it, and many factors are at play here. Stress, poor nutrition, long-term antibiotic usage, certain diseases, and mRNA vaccines can all affect the balance of bacteria in your gut, suppressing your immunity as a result.

However, you can boost your gut health through supplementation, providing your gut with the vital bacteria it needs to continue fighting disease and illness. At Rob Keller MD, we have some great options.

G.I. Balance (GIB) contains two types of bifidobacterium, Bifidobacterium longum and Bifidobacterium lactis. With just this supplement, you can replenish the bacteria shown to boost your cardiovascular health, stave off disease, and prevent infection.

Premium Enzyme Complex (PEC) is another gut-boosting supplement that contains digestive enzymes to help your gut with digestion. Otherwise, food may remain stuck in your gut as your body tries to figure out what to do with it, which can cause digestive complications that affect your health.

While both supplements are effective on their own, combining GIB and PEC offers the greatest boost to your gut microbiome and supports an active and fully functioning immune system.

Instead of fighting disease and infection after it has set in, you can support your immune system by supplementing some of its most important fighters: the bacteria and enzymes in its microbiome. As Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Don’t wait to be proactive about your health; improve your gut and immune health today.





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