By David Brownstein, MD
Where is your body’s immune system located?
When I ask my patients this question, nearly all of them tell me they aren’t sure. Some know it involves your lymph nodes or spleen.
However, very few people realize that 70% to 80% of your body’s immune cells are located in a place you might not expect: your gut.
You see, while it may be embarrassing to talk about, over 100 million Americans suffer from issues related to their gut or GI tract. Issues such as constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, nausea, or abdominal discomfort.
In fact, did you realize that more people suffer from simple occasional constipation than all other health concerns combined?
And there is growing evidence that bad bacteria in your gut has even been linked to depression and obesity!
In fact, numerous research studies in the past decade alone have found probiotics to be extremely beneficial to your health.
In addition to good bacteria helping with obesity and depression, these studies have found strong links with good gut bacteria and your body’s ability to:
✓ Strengthen your immune system; a powerful immune system is your key defender against diseases
✓ Reduce inflammation
✓ Boost absorption of critical vitamins and supplements — including B vitamins, niacin, vitamin K and more
✓ Reduce bad cholesterol’s entry in the bloodstream
✓ and help with many other conditions
Believe me, as a medical doctor I see patients with less than optimal digestive function every day . . .
Before I get into all that, however, I’d like to introduce myself.
I’m Dr. David Brownstein. I became a holistic medical doctor when I saw that far too many physicians were not addressing the true underlying cause of health issues. Instead, I believe that most mainstream doctors rely too heavily on drugs which only mask symptoms. I believe you deserve better than that!
So please keep reading, because I’m going to share with you crucial information about the little-known link between your immune and digestive systems. And I’ll give you five simple tips to help balance both of them — simultaneously and naturally.
I hope you take what you learn here today seriously. That’s because, as you grow older, this becomes an even more important issue . . .
Research Shows Seniors More Vulnerable to Gut Imbalance
Unfortunately, older adults often experience a decrease in their immune system function. And not coincidentally, research shows increased evidence of impaired gastrointestinal function as you grow older.
In fact, studies suggest that aging leads to a decrease in the gut microflora — the “good bacteria” that protects you against deadly diseases. One such good bacteria is the beneficial Bifidobacteria.3
You may have heard of these so-called “friendly” bacteria before.
For you to remain optimally healthy, about 85% of the bacteria in your gut should be composed of friendly fellows such as Lactobacillus or Bifidobacteria. The remaining 15% are generally made up of non-beneficial bacteria, but their minority status helps keeps them in check.
Unfortunately, in many people this ratio becomes imbalanced. The non-beneficial bacteria increase in numbers, crowding out the friendly bacteria.
The aging process is only one reason behind this imbalance. There are many others, but a few of the most common ones include:
• Poor diet, including high-sugar diets
• Tap water that is chemically treated with fluoride and chlorine
• The use of antibiotics or certain other medications
• Chronic stress
Because these factors are so prevalent, I wanted to make sure to give you some simple strategies to help you maintain both systems optimally as you grow older.
5 Tips to Balance Both Your Digestive and Immune Health
Tip #1: Avoid processed foods and sugar as much as possible
Very few people eat what I would consider an ideal diet. Most of the patients presenting to my office eat what I call the SAD diet (Standard American Diet). One of the most important things you can do to balance the beneficial bacteria in your gut is to avoid an overabundance of processed foods and sugar that characterize this SAD diet. Sugar actually provides food for non-beneficial bacteria to thrive.
Tip #2: Add more fiber to your diet
According to commonly established recommendations, adults need at least 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day for good health, but most Americans consume only about 10 to 15 grams per day.4 Fiber not only helps prevent and relieve simple, occasional constipation, but is also important for heart and metabolic health. Good sources of fiber include nuts, beans, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Tip #3: Decrease your stress level
Even mainstream Harvard’s Health beat will tell you: “The brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) system are intimately connected — so intimately that they should be viewed as one system . . . it is difficult to try to heal a distressed gut without considering the role of stress and emotion.” If you experience excessive stress in your life, you might consider some form of stress reduction. That could include yoga, meditation, working less, shifting your priorities, and enjoying more leisure time.
Tip #4: Drink more water
Water is essential to good digestion (and good health in general). I have observed that most people don’t drink nearly enough. Water helps keep moving food through your digestive tract into the colon. Without sufficient water, your bowel movements may be difficult to pass. There are many opinions as to how much water you should drink daily. Some say 8 glasses per day. You can also take your body weight as a measure, and drink half that amount in ounces daily. For example, a 150-pound person should drink 75 ounces of water daily. Soda, coffee, and alcoholic beverages don’t count!
Tip #5: Add a high-quality probiotic supplement to your diet
Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that live in your gut. You have about 100 trillion of them in your intestinal tract. In fact, there are so many of them that combined, they weigh about 2 or 3 pounds. To offset the imbalance you now know is so common, I recommend taking a high-quality probiotic supplement daily.