The immune system is our body’s natural defense mechanism. It consists of a collection of cells and substances that protect us from attack by microbes and harmful substances that can make us ill. Many things can weaken our immune system such as ageing, poor lifestyle choices, exposure to certain environmental factors and disruption of our gut microbiota.1,2
The main tasks of the immune system are1:
Did you know that the microorganisms present in our digestive tract are closely involved in our immunity? In fact, 70% of the cells responsible for immunity can be found inside the gut!3
From birth, the microbiota helps with the development of the immune system thanks to 'good bacteria' such as Bifidobacteria. Bididobacteria line the intestinal walls in babies and encourage the intestinal immune cells to develop and train themselves to distinguish between “friendly” micro-organisms and potentially dangerous foreign bodies.1,4
The gut microbiota is the first line of defense against disease-causing microbes. A protective barrier against invading pathogens is formed along the lining of the digestive tract by the bacteria that make up the microbiota. These ‘good’ bacteria can also release substances to neutralize any ‘nasty’ pathogens and prevent them from multiplying in the gut.5,6,7,8
The microbiota needs to be in good shape to ensure that our immune system works well. The delicate balance between the micro-organisms living in the gut changes throughout our lives depending on genetics, age, diet, stress and the environment. When this internal balance is disturbed, potentially dangerous pathogens can invade and cause problems.
The population of micro-organisms living in our digestive system plays a key role in the establishment and maintenance of our immune system. They are essential for maintaining good health.5
Over the course of our life, our immune systems inevitably become weaker. This is influenced by several factors including lifestyle, exposure to certain environmental conditions and the ageing process. A weaker immune system makes us more susceptible to illness.6-8
Sometimes, when we are unwell, stressed by pressure of work or maybe just getting older, the delicate balance between the different populations of micro-organisms in the microbiota is disturbed, a state known as ‘dysbiosis’. This means that the defensive role of the microbiota becomes less effective in protecting us from infection and disease which can have a negative impact on our health. As well as upsetting the immune system, it can result in digestive problems. The maintenance of healthy gut flora is therefore a key element for digestive health and to keep our immune system in good shape.6-8
In conclusion… Look after your gut and it will look after you!!
The good news is that everyone can improve their natural immunity! This involves having a healthy lifestyle, ensuring that you look after your gut flora and absorbing adequate levels of certain nutrients such as vitamins and minerals via your diet or with the support of dietary supplements.
The most important vitamins are vitamins C and D. These two vitamins, together with zinc, are essential for the normal functioning of the immune system.9
When the microbiota is doing its job properly, we enjoy the benefits of good digestive health and an effective immune system. However, when things aren’t working so well, we may need to make changes to our lifestyle and diet. In this case postbiotics can help! Postbiotics are naturally derived compounds whose role is to stimulate the growth of a healthy gut flora.10 Studies have shown that postbiotics are effective in helping to restore the microbiota and supporting good health. They are stable preparations which makes them easy to transport and to store without the need for refrigeration. They also have a good safety profile.
Immunity starts in the gut! So postbiotics offer a great solution. They have demonstrated their beneficial effect on the microbiota and shown that they can stimulate natural defenses so why not give them a try?