It only makes sense to do whatever we can to strengthen our immune systems during the continuing COVID pandemic, and one of the best ways to do that is by supporting a thriving and varied population of beneficial bacteria in our intestines.
More than 2/3 of immune cells are located in the gut, where they work synergistically with up to trillions of beneficial bacteria to support immunity.
Beneficial gut bacteria activate and support almost every aspect of both innate and adaptive immunity. They increase production of and activate macrophages (the first responder immune cells that literally have pathogens for breakfast—they engulf and devour them) natural killer cells, messenger cells (cytokines), B-cells and T-cells; and they strengthen the gut lining; modify the immune system so it doesn’t overreact and cause too much inflammation; improve absorption of many nutrients; and produce their own natural antimicrobial substances. One of these, acidophilin, is more powerful than pharmaceutical antibiotics like penicillin and streptomycin!
Unfortunately many aspects of modern life have undermined our beneficial gut population. While a ratio of good to bad bacteria in the colon is 85:15, in most Americans that ratio is reversed!
Here are factors that need to be addressed to maximize gut health:
One of the major assaults on our beneficial bacteria has come from the modern low-fiber, high sugar and meat diet. Fiber feeds good bacteria, while sugar feeds the bad guys. While most people fail to get the recommended 30 grams of fiber per day, our healthy ancestors got the more ideal 40-60 grams a day and more. To help get enough fiber, we recommend the mix of beneficial fibers in Beyond Health’s Dietary Fiber Formula.
Our “intestinal garden” also flourishes with a plant-based diet including fermented foods like sauerkraut and kefir, and plenty of green vegetables.
Time outside, especially digging in a garden and getting microbe-rich dirt under your fingernails, supports beneficial bacterial growth, as does spending time with animals.
Antibiotic medications have decimated more guts than any other single factor. Avoid them when you can, but here’s what to do if you can’t. Other drugs, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) also disrupt gut flora.
Watch out for antibiotics in conventionally raised animal foods. Animals are fed antibiotics to encourage weight gain and also to treat illnesses caused by being raised under unhealthy conditions. Choose organic instead.
With COVID, our collective use of antibacterial products has increased. Here are some alternatives.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, appears to kill good bacteria while sparing the bad! Glyphosate is sprayed on genetically engineered soy, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets and alfalfa, and often on non-GMO (but never organic!) crops like wheat, sugar cane, lentils, peas and beans.
Chlorine and fluoride also kill beneficial bacteria. For this and many other reasons, we suggest purifying your water with a reverse osmosis system.
Other detrimental factors include drug, alcohol and nicotine abuse; infections; chemo and radiation; sulfur in dried fruits, meats, jams and jellies; and stress.
A probiotic supplement with plenty of viable bugs like Beyond Health’s Probiotic Formula has become essential for most of us. In a recent segment on “60 Minutes,” probiotics were dismissed as “not working” because they don’t stay in the gut and colonize. But probiotics have dramatic effects while in the gut AND taking probiotics over time helps to change the gut environment by encouraging the beneficial bugs to grow and killing or discouraging the bad bugs.
So may you live long and healthy lives by taking good care of your beneficial gut bacteria!
- BH Staff. Fiber—essential for a healthy gut-immune system. September 5, 2013. Beyond Health Website Blog.
- BH Staff. Beyond Health’s Dietary Fiber Formula. March 9, 2020. Beyond Health Website Blog.
- BH Staff. Eat your greens for good intestinal health. August 15, 2013. Beyond Health Website Blog.
- BH Staff. What if I have to take antibiotics? June 15, 2015. Beyond Health Website Blog.
- BH Staff. Prescription drugs and the gut: friend or foe? September 12, 2013. Beyond Health Website Blog.
- BH Staff. Can genetically modified food destroy gut bacteria? June 6, 2014. Beyond Health Website Blog.
- BH Staff. Don’t poison yourself as you kill COVID. April 23, 2020. Beyond Health Website Blog.
- Alliance for Natural Health. Are probiotics useless? July 9, 2020.