The Gut’s Immune System
Our immune system lives in our gut - 50 to 70% of our immune system lives there. A few years ago, connecting the gut to the immune system was a novel concept.
We looked at what we ate as distinct and independent from how we felt. We assumed that every illness was externally obtained - from that person sneezing nearby you on the plane, to that skin rash that mysteriously appeared and won't go away. Over the past few years, we have learned a lot about our immune system and what happens in our gut.
THE GUT AS THE KEY TO HEALTH
What we've come to learn is that the gut is made up of intestinal mucosa - a complex barrier which must allow for both active and passive transport of substances. It must allow some substances to pass through, but prevent others. The mucosa is the gatekeeper. Keeping the gut healthy is critical to normal physiological function and prevention of disease.
There are three triggers in inflammatory diseases:
- Genetic predisposition (i.e., DQ2 or Dq8 haplotype for celiac disease)
- Environment trigger (microbe, food, toxins, etc)
- Leaky gut (affected by food, stress, disease, antibiotics in the food we eat, etc.)
OUR GENES ARE NOT OUR DESTINY
What this means is that we can control our environment and we can control the formation of leaky gut. Our genetic predisposition is not completely in control. You have the opportunity to impact your health by what you do, by what you think and what you are exposed to.
IMMUNOLOGY IN THE GUT MUCOSA
This is a very helpful video that describes what is occurring in our small intestines.