Gut Health Specialist Sunshine Coast | Boost Your Immune System Naturally with Shelley Cavezza, PhD
Did you know that around 70% of your immune system resides in your gut? That’s right; your gut is not just responsible for digesting food and absorbing nutrients, but it also plays a crucial role in maintaining your overall health, including your immunity. In recent years, the importance of gut health has been gaining increasing attention, with probiotics emerging as a popular way to support our gut microbiome and enhance immunity. Shelley Cavezza, PhD, is a functional medicine practitioner on the Sunshine Coast, a gut health specialist Sunshine Coast, who understands the crucial role gut health plays in overall wellbeing. Discover how incorporating probiotics into your lifestyle can drastically improve your immune system and overall health with expert advice from Shelley Cavezza, a functional medicine practitioner on the Sunshine Coast.
Understanding Probiotics and Their Role in Immune Health
Probiotics are live microorganisms, primarily bacteria and yeasts, that provide numerous health benefits when consumed in the right amounts. These beneficial microorganisms are often referred to as “good” or “friendly” bacteria, as they help maintain a healthy balance of gut flora.
The human gut is home to a diverse community of trillions of microorganisms, collectively referred to as the gut microbiome. This complex ecosystem is made up of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microscopic organisms, which coexist in a delicate balance.
The gut microbiome plays a vital role in immune health by:
1. Forming a barrier against harmful pathogens: The good bacteria in our gut compete with harmful pathogens for space and resources, preventing their proliferation and protecting us from infections.
2. Producing antimicrobial substances: Certain strains of beneficial bacteria can produce antimicrobial substances that inhibit the growth of harmful microbes.
3. Modulating the immune response: The gut microbiome communicates with immune cells and contributes to the development and maintenance of the immune system, which enables our body to recognise and fight against harmful pathogens.
The composition of the gut microbiome can be influenced by various factors, including diet, stress, and medications (particularly antibiotics). An imbalance in the gut microbiome, known as “dysbiosis”, can result in a weakened immune system and increased susceptibility to infections and diseases.
Numerous scientific studies have highlighted the potential benefits of probiotics on immune system function. Some of the key findings include:
1. Enhanced immune response: Probiotics can stimulate the production of antibodies and increase the activity of immune cells, helping the body to defend against pathogens.
2. Reduced susceptibility to respiratory infections: A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials found that probiotic supplementation was associated with a reduced risk of upper respiratory tract infections in both children and adults.
3. Improved gut barrier function: Certain probiotic strains can strengthen the gut barrier function by enhancing the production of mucus and antimicrobial peptides, which prevent the entry of harmful pathogens into the bloodstream.
4. Regulation of inflammation: Probiotics can help modulate the immune response by reducing the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and suppressing excessive inflammation, thereby reducing tissue damage and the risk of chronic diseases.
Let’s discuss some expert recommendations on types of probiotics that can strengthen the immune system and how to choose the right supplement for you.
Strengthening Your Immune System with Probiotics
Shelley Cavezza, PhD, a renowned expert in the field of functional medicine nutrition on the Sunshine Coast, a gut health specialist Sunshine Coast provides her insights on which probiotic strains may contribute to promoting a robust immune system. According to functional medicine practitioner, a gut health specialist Sunshine Coast – Shelley Cavezza, PhD, the two most researched and widely recommended strains for immune health are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These strains have been the subject of numerous studies attesting to their benefits on gut health, which in turn may have a direct impact on immune system function.
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are two primary types of bacteria found in probiotics, and their benefits on gut health and immune system are notable. Among the many Lactobacillus species, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Lactobacillus reuteri have shown promising results in promoting immune health in various studies. These three strains can regulate immune response and reduce inflammation, leading to better overall health.
Similarly, several Bifidobacterium strains, such as Bifidobacterium longum and Bifidobacterium bifidum, have demonstrated immune-boosting properties. Studies have shown that these strains can modulate the immune system’s response to harmful pathogens while also promoting gut health and alleviating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
When choosing a probiotic supplement to boost your immune system, it is vital to consider the following factors:
1. Strain specificity: As mentioned earlier, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains are the most researched and recommended for immune health. Look for a supplement that contains these strains, specifically the ones noted above, for optimal immune support.
2. Potency and viability: Probiotic supplements are measured in colony-forming units (CFUs), indicating the concentration of live bacteria. Look for a product with a high CFUs count (e.g., 10-50 billion) to ensure the survival and potency of the probiotics.
3. Quality and brand reputation: Choose a reputable brand that adheres to high-quality manufacturing standards. Look for certifications, such as Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) or third-party testing for quality assurance.
4. Storage and expiration: Probiotics are live organisms and need to be stored under the appropriate conditions. Check the expiry date and storage instructions on the packaging to ensure you are getting a quality product.
5. Delivery system: Some probiotic supplements are enteric-coated to protect the bacteria from stomach acid and ensure they reach the gut intact. Look for products with this feature for maximum effectiveness.
Incorporating Probiotics and Prebiotics into Your Diet
For optimal gut health, it’s essential to combine probiotics with prebiotics – non-digestible fibers that help to feed and nourish the beneficial bacteria in our gut.
Probiotics are live, beneficial bacteria that can be found in various fermented foods, such as yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha, among others. They are also available as dietary supplements in the form of capsules, powders, and liquids.
Prebiotics are a type of dietary fibre that helps to feed and nourish the good bacteria in your gut, creating a perfect environment for probiotics to flourish. By including both probiotics and prebiotics in your diet, you provide your gut with the necessary tools to maintain a delicate balance of good and bad bacteria, leading to better digestion, immunity, and overall health.
Best food sources of probiotics include:
Best food sources of prebiotics include:
1. Chicory root
2. Jerusalem artichokes
Tips from a gut health specialist Sunshine Coast- Shelly Cavezza, PhD, for Maintaining a Healthy Gut and Immune System
Stress management, regular exercise, and adequate sleep are three key areas that can significantly impact gut health and immune system function in addition to the incorporating probiotics and prebiotics into your diet and here is why.
Stress is an inevitable part of life, but its impact on gut health can be significant. When under stress, the body produces cortisol – a hormone that can trigger inflammation and harm the gut’s delicate lining. Prolonged stress can also disrupt the balance of gut bacteria, leading to a range of digestive issues. To maintain a healthy gut, it’s essential to incorporate effective stress management techniques into your daily life.
Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness practices can help reduce stress levels and support gut health. Other strategies might include spending time in nature, connecting with loved ones, and engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation.
Physical activity is not only essential for maintaining overall health, but it can also greatly benefit gut health. Regular exercise can encourage the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, improve digestion, and increase the production of short-chain fatty acids essential for gut lining integrity.
To promote good gut health, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week. This can include activities such as brisk walking, swimming, or participating in group sports or fitness classes at your local gym. Importantly, you should choose exercise that you enjoy, as this will increase the likelihood of long-term commitment and the benefits to gut health.
Sleep also plays a critical role in supporting immune health and overall wellbeing. During periods of rest, the body is able to repair damaged cells, synthesise essential proteins, and remove toxins – all crucial processes that help support optimal immune functioning.
Adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, with factors such as age, lifestyle, and personal needs influencing individual requirements. To improve sleep quality, establish a regular sleep schedule, create a comfortable sleep environment, limit screen time before bed, and avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.
To further tailor your probiotic regimen and get personalised advice on how to improve your digestive health, don’t hesitate to book a free 15-minute consultation with Shelley Cavezza, PhD, a functional medicine practitioner on the Sunshine Coast. There’s no better time than now to take a proactive approach and invest in your long-term health and happiness.