Today, we are bombarded with new advertising and food labelling promoting gut health. But how is your microbiome so critical for your immunity.
We cannot live without our microbiome; the one hundred trillion bacteria that live in and on our bodies. They are essential for a myriad of functions from the digestion of
fibre, to the management of our wellbeing and the release of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals from our food. Additionally, they manufacture B vitamins that facilitate many biochemical functions.
But how also, is our microbiome critical to supporting our immune system and when compromised, it can lead to the invasion of our bodies by pathogens through a leaky gut lining, the result of a poor microbiome and diet.
EVERYBODY EATS, but not everybody takes exercise, goes to yoga, take cold baths, take supplements, tasks drugs. Food is the one essential thing that will drive your health.
We think of bacteria as microscopic cells that cause disease. We clean and sanitise with obsession and yet the strongest immunity in children are those brought up on farms, have pets and play outside. In fact the one hundred trillion bacteria that live both in and on us have evolved over hundreds of millions of years to become our essential commensal friends.
An immune cell is part of the immune system and helps the body fight infections and other diseases. Immune cells develop from stem cells in the bone marrow and become different types of white blood cells.
The good bacteria in our gut outnumber our immune cells by about 200,000 to one. They are constantly scanning our GI tract (gastro intestinal) for pathogens (viruses, pathogenic bacteria, yeasts, protozoa, amoeba etc.). Its incredible and impossible that mankind could engineer anything so remarkable.
In a recent discovery, bacillus spores taken from the gut of a fossilised honey bee, 250 million years old, immediately germinated when plated in a laboratory and knew exactly what to do when introduced to pathogens.
So how do bacteria communicate and help our immune system?
Bacteria produce bio-films that are a lattice for their communication. Image if we had to communicate over a thousand miles without a communication device. That's about the scale of things.
So here goes..
Image a 200,000 seater stadium. That's the ratio of good bacteria to one immune cell in your body.
In that stadium, there is ONE terrorist (a pathogen) with ill intent. Somewhere else in the stadium is ONE security guard (a white immune cell).
The only way, of the security guard finding the terrorist is with help. Image 199,999 people (good bacteria) all on the same mobile communication network. Their aim, to find and tell the security guard where the terrorist is located.
That's the way commensal bacteria communicate through a bio-film to locate a pathogen, surround it and wait until a white immune cells arrive.
Without a strong and diverse microbiome your body is at risk of disease and infection every day. This may be the result of antibiotics, poor diet, excess alcohol and in todays population, a poor microbiome passed from a mother to baby.
Many babies are already born with poor microbiomes and leaky guts due to the lifestyle of the mother.
Apart from the need to support your gut health with probiotics, a diet rich in fibre and prebiotics is equally important to feed your microbiome with the correct foods.
No 3 Bitesize: What happens when pathogens cross the gut lining.