Did you know that in our intestines more than 70% of the whole body’s immune system is located? Over 100 trillions of microorganisms are working there day and night together with immune cells to provide our body with a strong defense system. The bowel is not only there to digest what we eat and drink, to absorb minerals and vitamins; it does also an important job at eliminating pathogenic bacteria.
This is called the nonspecific defense of our body. Unlike the specific defense, with which we are born, the nonspecific defense gets trained in our childhood, reaching its full developed state in our youth, and getting weaker again in the second half of our life.
As we already know, the immune system plays a vital role if we feel fit and happy or ill. Now, is good news: there are endless possibilities for us to influence the state of our immune system for the good or bad. In many situations we just have to make the ‘right’ decision.
7 Tips to boost the intestinal immune system:
Stress: Again, stress is one of the most negative influences on our body cells. What many people forget: eating also means work for the body – the process of digesting needs energy. Muscles and lots of enzymes are at work; the stomach, small and large intestine, liver, gallbladder and pancreas. So, if you can, find a quiet place to sit down while eating and wait at least 10 minutes after having finished your meal with any activity. This gives your body enough time to start the digestive process. Try to avoid doing other things while eating, such as reading, checking your phone, or talking much. Every activity needs your attention and therefore energy, which is then missing in the digestive process.
Sugar: Pathogenic microbes multiply a lot easier when they get lots of sugar. Besides the other risks that go along with consuming big amounts of sugar (e.g. overweight, diabetes), a lot of products containing big amounts of sugar also lead to an over acidification of the body. Avoid sweets, pastas and pastries, coke and other soft drinks.
Alkaline food: Try to watch your body’s acid-base balance by eating more ‘green’ food like vegetables, lettuce, or cabbage. Most pathogenic microorganisms prefer an acidic milieu. Hot lemon water in the morning is a great way to reduce acidification.
Regularity: An average time for the body to digest a meal is 4 hours, though it differs. Waiting at least 4 hours till your next meal is a recommendable time, which makes a total of 3 to 4 meals per day.
Time: Take your time for eating; enjoy the taste of your food! Doctors recommend chewing each bite for at least 30 times before swallowing. Well-chewed food is much easier for the stomach to digest, and chewing also increases the release of saliva, which contains necessary digestive enzymes.
Amount: Eat slowly, so that your body has the chance to give you the signal when to stop! The feeling of being full sometimes only arises after 10 minutes or more.
Flexibility: Try to choose the right food for you and your day, adjust your eating habits to the weather and the circumstances you live in.
Last but not least: if you want to support your gastro-intestinal immune system you should also watch out for modest alcohol consumption; avoid drugs, cigarettes and unnecessary pills.