WEIGHT LOSS WEDNESDAYS: Go With Your Gut: Eating for Immunity

By: Lauren Barnak, MS RDN

 

Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘Go with your Gut’? This common expression is often used to imply that your ‘gut’ somehow has the power to tell right from wrong, good from bad and friend from foe. As it turns out, this idea isn’t that far off base. The gut is a charming, pink jump rope of a thing, spanning from your esophagus to your rectum and measures over 27 feet in most adults. What most people don’t know is that it is also the location of about 70% of your immune system and is home to ~100 TRILLION microorganisms- mostly bacteria. That’s more than you have in the rest of your body combined and is enough to make you more bacterial than human.  Did your brain blow up yet?  Well, go get a paper towel to mop it up… and keep reading.

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The gut is the first line of defense between you and any toxic or potentially illness-causing gunk you happen to eat. So, technically, your gut CAN, in fact, tell the difference between friend and foe… at least from a microbial standpoint, that is. Current research suggests that gut health is linked to the control of many of today’s chronic diseases, including arthritis, thyroid dysfunction, diabetes, depression and obesity.

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     So, if your gut is the primary gatekeeper between you and all these negative health risks, it makes sense that you’d want to keep it as happy and healthy as possible right? Right…. But how do you keep your gut happy? Pay it lots of compliments? Buy it wine? Candles? Serenade it with “Careless Whisper” by Wham?  No.  Thankfully, your guts, despite being delicate and pink, are not very high maintenance and require only a few things to be happy.  Lets break it down:

W.L.W. Tip Of The Week:

-REPEAT AFTER ME: “A happy gut is a healthy gut”

  • Eat fermentable fiber- starches such as sweet potatoes/ yams, yucca – THINK: “gut food”- that helps your gut lower inflammation, stabilize blood glucose and mount an immune response

  • Eat fermented foods- yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha- these contain probiotics (i.e. good bacteria) that make sure the defensive line of your gut has enough players

  • Make sure your diet is low in toxins- simply said, get rid of the crap in your diet- including refined sugars, hydrogenated or omega-6 oils like safflower, corn or soy oils and refined flours or starches like crackers, cookies and chips

  • Play “Careless Whisper”  (not really)… although reducing your stress level IS associated with better gut health