There is a lot of misleading information about immunity and gut health. We sat down with Dr. G and Afif Ghannoum to sort out the facts from fiction.
Fact vs. Fiction | Immunity and Gut Health
What Does it Mean to be Immunocompromised?
The term immunity and immunocompromised get thrown around a lot. When we talk about being immunocompromised, people often think about cancer patients but there are a lot of different people that can be immunocompromised.
For example, very young children whose immune systems are still developing, all the way to the elderly individuals whose immune systems are starting to wain.
It is not just when there’s an underlying condition like cancer that patients become immunocompromised, age is another factor. When you’re young your immunity is strong. Older people have weaker immunity.
Stress, diet, alcohol, and smoking may compromise your immunity as well.
If your immunity is weak you are more susceptible to viruses like COVID 19.
Why Do We Care About Boosting Immunity?
If your immunity is compromised, infections that are usually not a problem become a very big deal. Normal, everyday bacteria can cause an infection.
For example, candida is not a threat if your immunity is strong but a weak immunity becomes susceptible to candida overgrowth or candidiasis. Candidiasis is the disease of the immunocompromised.
When you have a cut, localized immunity is the redness you see. The immune cells are going there to fight germs.
Systemic immunity is in the blood. We have cells in our blood that are able to fight infection.
Inflammation is your body’s way to try to fight off a foreign body in the case the immune system goes into overdrive.
The same can be said for allergic reactions. It’s the immune system’s way of trying to fight foreign bodies.
The Microbiome and Immunity
The microbiome is a collection of organisms in the body. There are several microbiomes in the body, like your skin, mouth and gut.
The organisms that live in our gut are made of good bacteria and fungi. In addition to the good microorganisms there are bad microorganisms.
These play an important role in keeping the organisms under control. They also communicate with the body and the brain, and all this can affect your immune system.
Furthermore, the good bacteria secrete small molecules that help your immune system. In other words, good organisms not only protect against infection but also support the immune system.
As mentioned before the gut and brain communicate bi-directionally. If we have good gut health, we’ll have better neurological systems.
The gut sends messages to the brain to release chemicals. An unhealthy gut may, therefore, cause stress or other diseases such as autism.
Because of these recent studies we now know the gut is becoming central to overall health.
With our research, we’re at the point where we see correlation but not causation yet. These ties are still being proven.
Right now, we are trying to study the exact mechanisms behind the relationship.
We found with Crohn’s disease an increase in pathogens and candida. We’re trying to find ways to prevent and treat Crohn’s disease by understanding how the relationship between the bacteria and the body works.
Gut Health and COVID-19
We want to make it clear that there is no product that will prevent or cure COVID-19. Any claims made regarding this are not accurate.
Our aim today is to urge everyone to be mindful of their sources.
Many articles are citing medical publications and showing charts but it’s taken out of context. We want to encourage you to go to the scientific paper and look at the abstract of what was studied and the conclusion.
Always look for statistical significance. Is it repeatable, were enough people part of the trial, was it peer-reviewed and so on.
The general principle to bear in mind is if your immunity is strong, you can likely fight off infections. If not, you become more susceptible to infections. People want a quick solution but we urge you to have a holistic approach to health. Take care of your lifestyle and the way you’re eating to stay healthy.
What are some ways you are boosting your immune system? Tell us in the comment section below!