Partners in Immunity: The Gut Microbiome and the Immune System
Gut bacteria does more than help to digest your food, it is also the managing partner of the immune system. As a matter of fact, most of your immune tissue resides in the GI tract, where it cooperates with the gut microbiome to protect us. Immune cells must distinguish between beneficial organisms and harmful ones while leaving normal body cells alone. And without a healthy gut, the immune system cannot function properly.
There are have two kinds of immunity – innate and acquired immunity.
After birth, a babies’ immune systems must rapidly “learn” how to make new antibodies. A set of “blank” immune cells, the “innate immune system” detect signals from beneficial bacteria to not respond to them while learning to recognize harmful ones. Immune cells can “learn” because part of their DNA is not stable; it can mutate and evolve, producing sets of cells that only make antibodies to harmful bacteria. “Teaching” the immune system is why pediatricians tell parents to allow their children to get dirty, play with pets and animals and outdoors, and eat new foods.
Numerous information molecules are passed between the intestinal microbiome and immune cells, producing a set of “memory cells” that make antibodies that recognize invading organisms. Then memory cells can quickly multiply to make lots of antibodies when needed. The microbiome-immunity partnership must constantly evolve new memory cells and responses.
Keeping the partners healthy
The vital role of a healthy gut microbiome in immunity makes it important to put gut health front and center. An abnormal balance of gut bacteria can be harmful to the immune system and your overall health. This can be caused by infections, diet, stress, exercise, toxins, and even aging.
Healthy gut microbiome balance can be supported through:
Probiotics: Probiotics contain live bacteria that increase the population of beneficial microbes. They are especially useful when the gut microbiome has been altered by infection, antibiotics, or disease, but they are also used as a preventative.
Prebiotics: Prebiotics provide special food molecules that particular beneficial bacteria need. For example, prebiotics usually contain plant fiber that human enzymes cannot digest but that are energy sources for some beneficial gut bacteria.
Preimmune egg: Preimmune supplements contain antibodies that inhibit pathogen growth and enhance the immune response. The antibodies, contained in tiny lipid packages, make their way to the large intestine, where normal fat metabolism digests the packages, releasing antibodies to fight against pathogen growth.
Youngevity offers a preimmune egg supplement through its Legacy For Life product line. The i26 hyperimmune egg delivers support the immune needs through antibodies that fight off harmful bacteria; helping to support gut balance.
Kho, Z. Y., & Lal, S. K. (2018). The Human Gut Microbiome – A Potential Controller of Wellness and Disease. Frontiers in Microbiology, August 14, 2018. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2018.01835/full
Tlaskalovahogenova, H., et al. (2014) Commensal bacteria (normal microflora), mucosal immunity and chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Immunology Letters, May 15, 2004 doi:10.1016/j.imlet.2004.02.005