Gut Health and Immunity

Gut Health and Immunity

Your gut is full of microbiota of bacteria. Both good and bad. So, how does the microbiota control and regulate its own immune defense?

To understand this, we need to understand the environment in your digestive tract. Your stomach is a hostile place with a pH of 2-4. This makes the environment highly acidic, allowing your food to be broken down and digested.

Once the food is broken down and enters the intestines, the pH changes to a milder 7–8.5. Bacteria flourish here, both good and bad.

It is the bad bacteria that needs your immune system to kick in. 

Traditionally, it was thought that, at best, your digestive system could regulate its own immune defense. We are now discovering that it not only does that; the effects extend well beyond your entire body. 

In the gut, your microbiota mediates the production of t-cells. But the effect of that is not limited to just your gut. 

The reaction of the gut bacteria in triggering an immune response can inhibit the growth of influenza, herpes, chinkungunya, the hepatitis virus, and candida, to name a few. 

So the question obviously is how? How does a bacteria in your gut mediate the immune response in the rest of the body?

The question is a physical one. How exactly would bacteria influence your body over what would be long distances? 

One theory is that the bacteria actually enter your bloodstream and then trigger an immune response in the rest of your body. 

Another theory is the triggering of a cytokine storm. Cytokines are small proteins responsible for triggering an immune response. 

A third theory is that the cells in your gut are programmed and then sent outside to the rest of your body. Once it gets there, the cells trigger the immune response. 

It is not clear how precisely all of this works or which bacteria play this role. What is clear, though, is that poor gut health affects not just digestion but your entire body. 

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