Gut Health: Your Best Defense During Cold and Flu Season
As the days get shorter and temperatures drop, we know that cold and flu season is right around the corner. While washing hands and covering coughs are important for staying healthy during this time, another essential aspect of immune defense sometimes gets overlooked: gut health. Supporting your gut is key for a strong immune system during cold and flu season, and there are a few things you should know to get started.
The Gut-Immunity Connection
Your gut is often referred to as your "second brain", and for good reason. It's a complex ecosystem of trillions of microorganisms, collectively known as the gut microbiome, that play a pivotal role in your overall health, including your immune system. In fact, approximately 70% of your immune system resides in your gut. To boost your immunity during cold and flu season, it's crucial to maintain a healthy gut.
The Gut-Lung Connection
Immunity isn't the only function heavily influenced by gut health—the lungs also take their cues from the health of the gut microbiome. The gut and the lungs are connected via a complex web of immune system messengers, and a diverse gut microbiome can help reduce your susceptibility to viruses that affect the lungs. You can learn more about the gut-lung connection here.
A diverse gut microbiome is a resilient one. The more varied your gut bacteria, the better your immune system can adapt to fend off different pathogens. To encourage microbial diversity in your gut and boost your immunity, consume a wide range of nutrient-rich whole foods like leafy greens and legumes, as well as fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut. Also consider adding gut-friendly supplements to your routine, like probiotics and Gut / Lung Resilience.
Prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber that nourishes the beneficial bacteria in your gut. They serve as food for probiotics, the good bacteria that support a diverse and healthy gut microbiome. Foods rich in prebiotics include garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, chicory root, and baobab fruit powder. Incorporating these prebiotic-rich foods into your diet can help create an environment in your gut that favors the growth of beneficial bacteria, enhancing your overall immune function.
Vitamin C: An Immune System Powerhouse
Vitamin C is renowned for its immune-boosting properties. It acts as an antioxidant, protecting your immune cells from oxidative stress and helping them function optimally. Some great sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, and bell peppers. Baobab fruit powder also has incredibly high levels of vitamin C per serving—5x more than oranges! To keep your immune system strong during cold and flu season, aim to incorporate these vitamin C-rich foods into your diet every day.
Gut Health and Immunity Boosting Lifestyle Choices
In addition to including more healthful foods and supplements in your diet, there are several lifestyle changes you can add to your daily routine to support gut health and bolster your immunity during cold and flu season:
- Hydration: Staying hydrated is essential—proper hydration aids in digestion and is supportive of a well-functioning immune system. Water also helps flush toxins from the body and supports all bodily functions, including immune response.
- Sleep: Quality sleep is vital for gut health and immune function. Aim for 7-9 hours of restful sleep each night to allow your body to repair and recharge itself.
- Managing Stress: Chronic stress can weaken your immunity, but incorporating stress management techniques like yoga, deep breathing, and meditation into your routine can help mitigate the negative effects of stress on your gut health and immune system.
- Regular Exercise: Exercising consistently promotes gut and immune health, and when combined with the other lifestyle choices, ensures that you’re in the best shape possible to ward off viruses.
Cold and flu season doesn't need to be a time of vulnerability. By prioritizing your gut health, incorporating baobab fruit powder into your diet, and making immune-boosting lifestyle choices, you can support your body’s wellness and significantly reduce your risk of falling ill during this challenging time of year. Gut health supports the immune system, and a strong immune system is your body's best defense against viruses—start implementing these strategies now to ensure you're prepared to face cold and flu season with resilience!