The Gut-Immune System Connection
It’s been said that, “70-80% of the immune system is located in the gut.” The gut microbiome is one of the most densely populated microbial habitats consisting of over 100 trillion microorganisms. With a microbiota this dense, it comes as no surprise that there is a complex interplay between the densely populated gut and the immune system, between intestinal microbiota, the intestinal epithelial layer, the mucosal immune system, and systemic immunity. To put it simply: what’s in the gut determines what is sent to the immune system. In fact, there exists a commensal (beneficial) relationship between the immune system and microbiota. A microbiome that lacks key bacteria and diversity promotes inflammation and chronic disorders such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. Emerging evidence indicates that certain disorders are characterized by changes in the gut microbiome, that is, the gut microbiota fuels metabolic inflammation and dysregulation. Conversely, a diverse—healthy—microbiome reduces inflammatory response.
How to Get a Healthy Microbiome
Here’s the thing: a healthy microbiome looks different for everyone. No two people have the same microbiota composition. However, the best way for everyone to get a healthy microbiome is the same because the main contributor to gut health is diet. This means that consuming a diverse diet rich in fiber, including whole grains, legumes, fruit, and vegetables is the best way to ensure a healthy microbiome. The good news is that dietary changes can affect gut health in as little as 24 hours. Even better news? You can take probiotics in addition to eating a balanced diet to see even more beneficial changes to overall health.
The Bottom Line On the Gut-Immune Connection
Over 100 trillion microorganisms make up your microbiota that directly contributes to your health. Knowing that your gut greatly impacts the immune system and ultimately your overall health can seem daunting, but in fact, it helps to know that everything is connected. The gut microbiome is connected to your immune system…still doesn’t make a good song, but it helps to simplify the connection. Diverse diet = diverse microbiome, and a diverse microbiome is a happy microbiome.