Do you find yourself getting sick a lot during the winter months? Let’s take a quick look at your immune system and how it is related to your digestion. First of all, a majority of your immune system actually resides in the lining of your gut (and by “gut”, I mostly mean your small and large intestines). If your gut isn’t perfectly healthy then your digestion isn’t functioning optimally and you aren’t breaking down your food.
When you don’t break down your food into tiny, easily absorbable particles, they actually get absorbed as larger particles. Those particles are seen by your immune system as foreign invaders. So your immune system will actually attack them. It can get to a point where your immune system is spending so much time fighting off your food that it doesn’t also have the capacity to fight off a bug that you catch. This can make you the one who “catches everything” and who spends the entire winter sniffling and sneezing.
Some simple things you can try to help your digestion, therefore help your immune system are:
1. Don’t go overboard on the sugar. It can feed the “bad bacteria” in your digestive tract leading to poor digestion.
2. Drink room temperature water, or warm herbal tea with lemon juice squeezed into it before each meal. Cold beverages actually slow down the function of your entire digestive tract. Conversely warm drinks help to keep things moving. And lemon juice can stimulate your body’s natural production of hydrochloric acid, which will help you digest your food.
3. Get more glutamine and good bacteria into your system. Glutamine is the fuel that your gut cells need to work properly. You can get glutamine in many high-protein foods such as beef, chicken, fish and beans. You can also consider supplementing. You can take 5 grams a day in a powder or capsule form. And for the “good bacteria”, try to eat one serving a day of a fermented food like kefir, sauerkraut, kim chi, miso or tempeh. Of course there are also plenty of probiotic supplements you can consider.
***Keep in mind that these are just a few suggestions and you can always check with your naturopathic doctor to see what is right for you.