gut and immune system

gut and immune system

The gut and immune system are closely linked. If the intestine is weakened, the immune system loses strength. And vice versa, a weakened immune system can lead to disorders in the gastrointestinal tract. In both cases, the intestinal flora gets out of balance. The intestinal flora – this is the name for all microorganisms living in the intestine. Billions of tiny creatures, primarily bacteria, cavort there. There are about 500 different species. They are hard-working immune system helpers, which ultimately even influence whether a person feels well or is ill.

Tasks of the microorganisms in the intestine

The health-promoting intestinal dwellers fulfill many tasks:

  • They ensure that certain nutrients can be properly digested and utilized.
  • They form vitamins, such as vitamin K, essential for blood clotting.
  • They protect the intestines from aggressive pollutants.
  • They prevent pathogenic viruses, bacteria or fungi from settling in the intestinal mucosa and causing infections.
  • They provide the immune cells in the gut with important information. In this way, pathogens can be combated in a targeted manner.
  • They promote the development and nutrition of the intestinal mucosa.

However, all these tasks can only be mastered if the intestinal colonization is balanced. The microorganisms must have a particular relationship with each other.


disorders of the intestine

The intestine can compensate for undersized or short-term stresses. Severe disorders and diseases only arise when the attacks are massive or long-lasting. Examples are:

  • wrong  diet
  • an unhealthy lifestyle
  • aggressive pathogens
  • taking certain  drugs such as antibiotics or cortisone

Such influences damage the good germs, and the bad ones can spread. Toxic metabolic products are created and burden the intestines. Foreign substances and pollutants can no longer be sufficiently repelled.

Inflammatory processes can follow. More and more pathogenic germs are replacing the good, health-promoting ones. Soon, the intestinal flora is “understaffed” and overloaded. The first signs are flatulence,  belching, cramps in the intestine or colic, and greasy, strong-smelling stool.

How a disturbed intestinal flora affects the immune system

The immune system also begins to “weaken”. The immune cells in the intestine can no longer work optimally, and the immune system dwindles. Then, the pathogens have an easy time triggering health problems. Numerous diseases can follow.

Those affected react more sensitively, not only with infectious diseases. Sometimes allergiesrheumatic diseases or certain skin diseases also develop. These are all diseases that are not initially associated with impaired bowel function.


Intestinal cleansing for the immune system

Fortunately, the gut also accepts outside help, and there’s a lot you can do to get it back to normal. These measures are summarized under the keyword intestinal sanitation. There are different approaches.

However, it is essential to clarify the cause of the intestinal problems with the doctor beforehand. If the doctor gives the green light, the pharmacist can advise on treatment with the remedial microorganisms. Most of these drugs are available from pharmacies but do not require a doctor’s prescription.

Therapy of intestinal inflammation

In so-called mucosal therapy, attempts are made to counteract inflammation with bacterial metabolic products and restore the mucous membrane’s functions. Metabolic products of microorganisms such as E. coli  (intestinal bacterium in humans) or certain lactobacilli  ( lactic acid bacteria ) come into question. This therapy works particularly well with an inflamed mucous membrane,  for example, after diarrhoea. The health-promoting germs of the intestinal flora can only multiply if the intestinal mucosa is healthy.

In microbiological therapy, the intestine is treated by administering whole germs, i.e. not just their metabolic products. Both living and dead germs, such as E. coli or Enterococcus faecalis, are used for this. The germs occur in the natural intestinal flora and do not cause any damage. They help bring the intestinal flora back into balance and contribute to rehabilitating the immune system.

Probiotics to strengthen the immune system

Probiotics are recommended as a preventive measure to strengthen the immune system. These are microorganisms, mostly lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, which enter the intestine with food or dietary supplements, settle there and support the work of the natural intestinal flora.

Dietary supplements from the pharmacy, for example, in the form of capsules, have the advantage that you know precisely when the cultures arrive in sufficient quantities in the intestine and are effective. This is not only the case with food, for example, if the cold chain has been interrupted or storage is improper.


Mushrooms for diarrhoea

Prebiotics such as inulin or oligofructose are indigestible carbohydrates (oligosaccharides) that human digestive juices cannot break down. They increase the number or activity of the desired lactic acid and bifidobacteria in the intestine, thereby supporting the body’s defences. Symbiotics are combinations of pro- and prebiotics.

 Therapy with Saccharomyces boulardii is also suitable for acute diarrhoea and preventing traveller’s diarrhoea. This yeast can be taken as a capsule or powder and colonizes the gastrointestinal tract within a few hours. There, diarrhoea pathogens are prevented from spreading without affecting the intestinal flora. The drugs are available in pharmacies without a prescription.

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