How can gut health affect your immunity?
Written by Jessica Simonis – Nutritionist, Western Herbalist, Holistic Skin Practitioner
Immune health plays a key role in multiple skin diseases, including psoriasis and eczema, but what does gut health have to do with your immune system?
The health of our gut plays a significant role in determining the health of our immune system. Gut associated lymph tissue (GALT) is the largest immune organ in the body, and the primary route of exposure to pathogens. Essentially GALT acts as the gate keeper, keeping the balance between health promoting microbes (eg.probiotics) and disease promoting microbes (eg. pathogenic bacteria, fungi, yeasts and viruses). When we are healthy, the gate keeper is fairly tolerant, ignoring a certain amount of nasty microbes as long as the balance is in favour of probiotics.
When we experience an imbalance in the gut microbes, the gate keeper becomes intolerant and hyper responsive leading to imbalances in the immune system, including chronic inflammation, allergy, autoimmunity and vulnerability to infection.
How will I know if my gut is out of balance?
Research has shown that those with chronic skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne, demonstrate alterations in their gut bacteria. Symptoms of an imbalanced gut microbiome are not always expressed in digestive symptoms and therefore further investigations via stool testing may be required.
So, how can you keep your gut in balance?
Frequent exposure to a diverse range of probiotics is important in order to keep the nasty microbes in check but also to help maintain the health of the gate itself (aka the gut barrier). Ways to increase your microbial diversity include:
- Increase consumption of plant based, fibrous foods (fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds)
- Include fermented foods, such as yoghurt and kefir (these are best kept to small amounts for those with inflammatory skin conditions due to histamine content)
- Spend plenty of times outdoors immersed in nature (get your hands dirty!)
- Avoid unnecessary antibiotics and opt for antibiotic-free/organic meat and dairy products where possible
- Avoid high sugar and high fat diets, which promote inflammation and growth of pathogenic microbes
If you would like to know more about how your gut health could be affecting your immune system, contact the Psoriasis Eczema Clinic today.