all disease begins in the guts” – Hippocrates
Don’t hate me just yet, I like pizza too ;-).
I have been meaning to write about Gut Health for a while now. I haven’t yet sat down and actually commit to it as there is so much to say, and to be quite honest, I wouldn’t know where to begin. Having said that, now seems to be the perfect moment to start approaching the subject, without boring anyone with a three-parts long article as I tend to do.
A few weeks back, when the lockdown hadn’t started yet, my job got us pizza for lunch. That’s when I realized I really needed to write about this (the power of pizza is strong). What came from a good intention, a nice gesture, was in fact a real disservice to the weeks to come. The Corona virus was already well established in the US and even though I’m not an expert (yet), I was well aware that I needed to get my immune system on point, and well aware that it all starts in the gut. I refused the slice of pizza that was offered, in front of many pair of eyes looking at me like I had just refused a million dollar, non-taxable. Thank God my bosses did not take it the wrong way, and my coworkers all know I’m weird when it comes to food. I guess they were happy to have more pizza (guys, you’re welcome).
Let me be very clear : you are only as healthy as your microbiome. The microbiome is a few bacteria (about 1-10 trillions, no big deal), living in our guts, on our skin, in other digestive organs, reproductive organs and I might forget some (told you, not an expert yet, but you get the point). Most of it though, is in our big intestine. It’s an entire ecosystem of bacteria (and viruses as well), that does a million things for us : it helps us digest food, absorbs nutrients, regulates/produces hormones, communicates with our brain, regulates our nervous system, helps our immune system, regulates our mood, and so-much-more. Let’s put this in perspective: 1-10 trillions bacteria in our guts, and as a human being, we are one trillion cells. Therefore we are at least as much bacteria than we are human (think twice before telling someone they are a piece of shit…).
I’ll get into the specifics of all of this whenever I feel like I can condense the information on the subject, but for now, let’s focus on the hot one : The Immune System. 70-80% of our white blood cells are situated directly behind the gut barrier. The microbiome and the immune cells are in constant communication, helping one another. If one is out of balance, the other one won’t function correctly and vice-versa. This relationship starts at birth (at least if you were born naturally through the vaginal canal and not via C-section), and even before that, because the baby receives microbes through the placenta (for all the Mother-To-Be out there, ensure that you’re baby is getting the good stuff!). Our immune system has therefore evolved with our microbiome and has learned to identify the good bacteria. When our gut microbiome is healthy and well balanced, those two have an interesting relationship : the immune system helps the growth of beneficial microbes, and the microbiome promotes the development of immune cells.
The problem occurs when the gut microbiome is out of balance. Even though the human body is pretty resilient, it’s not that hard to mess up our gut microbiome.
Here are the fourth main factors:
- Exercice (yep, you read this one right. Exercice is touchy, it can be very beneficial, or detrimental, depending on the type);
- Sleep (rather lack of sleep).
Today, I want to focus on diet in particular, even though, the three other factors are equally important. As a matter of fact, I cover everything you need to know about sleep in this article.
For now though, FOOD. If you have read other articles on this blog, it won’t be the first time you read this : Food is information! But please, read this again! Every meal is an opportunity to either support your immune system, or to mess it up. Your gut microbiome needs real, whole foods; the type of foods that will support their growth (prebiotics) and create new healthy bacteria (probiotics, fermented foods). It needs this to stay balanced (the contrary of gut dysbiosis that you may have come across, it means an unbalanced gut bacteria). Let me cut right to the chase : processed foods, sugar, hydrogenated oils, trans fat, GMO’s, anything humanly created, water (yes! The type that contains chlorine and other chemicals), antibiotics, and so much more, are very harmful to the microbiome. In a time where you want your immune system to be ready for a new (unknown) virus, that slice of pizza is not welcome, and it will work against you. Take this opportunity being at home to get familiar with cooking. Ditch the processed crap and swap it for real, nutritious, full of vitamins, whole foods. First it will help you fight the virus if you do get it, and second, it will also allow you not to gain ten pounds by the time this is over. I also want to save you a little bit of social awkwardness (besides, summer is coming…).
Here are some advice to help boosting your immune system (in an ideal world, we shouldn’t wait for a “Beer-Named Apocalypse” to do these things, but… in an ideal world, people don’t save the toilet paper before anything else either) :
- Eat real food (aka nothing processed, nothing hydrogenated, no sugar, and stop anything that contains ingredients you can’t pronounce);
- Filter your water to remove chlorine and fluorine;
- Some supplements especially Propolis (powerful antioxidant that has been proven to inhibit especially the Corona virus!), spirulina, Bee Pollen (any bee products are great for the immune system), Vitamine D, Omega 3 fatty acids, and quality probiotics;
- Keep your stress level low, elevated cortisol isn’t your friend right now;
- Exercice : It is one of the best way to boost your immune system, if done correctly (except if you are sick : don’t add any stress on the body if you are). If you need inspiration, open your Instagram account and look how many push ups challenges you’ve been tagged on. Or go check the @crossfitwynwood page, and get the link for our special zoom workout EVERYDAY, 9:30am/ 5:30pm (EST), anyone can join, no need to be a member!
- SLEEP : click here to discover why!
Alright guys, for now that should do it, and be on the lookout for fakes news: fear will kill faster than viruses will. Take care of your immune system, and have a little faith in the human body to get you out of this one!