How to nurture your immune system and gut at the same time

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Your immune system and gut work best as friends. (Getty Images)

Did you know the gut is home to 70% of the body's immune cells? So nurturing your gut, also means boosting your immune system.

"Yep, you heard that right – your gut could be the key to unlocking a stronger immune system," says dietician Nikki Lamprecht.

Here, she explains everything you need to know about how the two are connected, and provides some science-backed tips to keep your gut and immune system in sync.

Why immunity and gut health is linked

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Gut health is linked to many aspects of our overall health. (Getty Images)

"Picture your gut as the body's largest immune organ – the guardian of wellbeing. It houses a whopping 70% of the body's immune cells and is a bustling community of trillions of microbes, collectively known as the microbiota," Lamprecht, also a spokesperson for JERMS, explains. "The gut's lining isn't just a barrier; it's a superhero filter, selectively allowing nutrients in while keeping harmful toxins out of the bloodstream."

And the science behind it? "The microbiota in your gut plays a crucial role in training your immune system. They educate your immune cells to distinguish between friend and foe. So, a happy gut means a savvy immune system that knows exactly when to launch a defence against invaders."

How to boost your immune system and nurture your gut

Healthy gut immune system. (Getty Images)
Looking after your immune system and gut works hand in hand. (Getty Images)

"Because the two are intricately related, if the body is exposed to bacteria-stripping factors (i.e. poor diet, antibiotics, environmental toxins, chronic stress), this can lead to reduced immunity," Lamprecht points out.

So, here's how to keep the two in sync with each other, and maximise the benefits...

1. Have a diverse diet

It's never about restricting what we put in our bodies, but enriching our bodies overall with the food choices we make.

"Fuel your gut with a rainbow of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Diversity in your diet encourages a diverse microbiota, and a varied microbiota is a happy, robust one," Lamprecht advises.

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A rainbow of fruits is key. (Getty Images)

2. Limit refined carbohydrates, processed and high sugar foods

"We all deserve treat days but overconsumption can lead to an imbalance of bacteria in our gut," says the dietician, pointing out the importance of balance.

Starchy carbs, however, like wholegrain varieties of bread, rice and pasta, and potatoes with the skin left on, are needed as part of a balanced diet.

3. Get in enough shut eye

It seems the gut really can affect just about everything.

"Research suggests that our gut microbiome can influence our quality of sleep and we all know quality zzz’s in return help boost our immune system and fight off infection," explains Lamprecht.

The NHS recommends getting seven to nine hours sleep a night, and sleep experts typically advise maintaining a strong circadian rhythm (meaning you your sleep-wake cycle, the time you go to bed and wake up, is consistent).

Top View of Handsome Young Man Sleeping Cozily on a Bed in His Bedroom at Night. Blue Nightly Colors with Cold Weak Lamppost Light Shining Through the Window.
Gut health and sleep quality are linked. (Getty Images)

4. Fill up on fibre

"Fibre isn't just for digestion; it's a feast for your gut microbes. Load up on beans, lentils, whole grains, and legumes to keep your gut residents happy," she adds.

For adults, it's generally advised to get 30g of fibre a day.

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Make sure you're getting enough fibre. (Getty Images)

5. Hydration is key

"Water is the medicine of life, and your gut loves it too. Hydration helps maintain the mucosal lining of the intestines, promoting a healthy environment for your gut buddies."

Read more on gut health:

Watch: Strengthen your immune system with these 9 foods