In order to fight off disease and infection it is important to have a healthy bacterial community living in our gut. We are always coming into contact with many different viruses so we need our gut flora (bacteria) to be healthy enough to fight them off. Eating all types of fermented foods is one of the best ways to improve our gut flora and enable our body to better fight off disease and infection.
Our intestinal bacteria determines the quality of our immune system in a few ways:
- It provides a physical barrier for the build-up of foreign microbes
- The good bacteria in our gut ‘talks’ to the immune system telling it what to attack
- It influences the growth and formation of immune-functioning organs, such as our thymus
In our society where antibiotics, strict hygiene and highly processed foods are the norm, we have less of an opportunity to introduce good bacteria into our gut, and as a result our immune systems are not strong enough to easily cope with the bad bacteria when it does invade our bodies.
Antibiotics not only destroy the bad bacteria, they also destroy the good bacteria which is necessary for a balanced immune system. By destroying the good bacteria, there is opportunity for bad bacteria to fester in the future. Highly processed food (which includes most food containing added sugar) also feeds the bad bacteria and weakens the good bacteria, unbalancing the gut microbes.
By eating properly fermented foods, we can introduce good bacteria into our guts and replenish our gut flora, which will gradually strengthen the immune system. As our system becomes accustomed to the bacteria, our guts are normalised and will begin functioning optimally. In turn, our immune system is better able to cope when it is inundated by bad bacteria.
There are many different types of fermented foods. Fermented vegetables are traditionally the most common, the safest, and possibly the yummiest. You can buy fermented veggies from our online shop, or perhaps you can learn to make your own.