If I asked you if you wanted stronger immune health, the answer is likely, “yes”. But if asked “what is immune health”, your answer may not be so clear. You likely wouldn’t immediately relate the immune system and gut health. So, let’s discuss what immune health is, its purpose, and how we can best keep it strong. If you gain anything from reading this, it should be that a healthy immune system comes from a healthy gut.
So, What is Immune Health?
Immune health is the result of your body’s defense system, your immune system’s fight against environmental pathogens/toxins. Your immune system provides immune health by addressing pathogen invasion at your body’s external barriers such as your skin and gut. These barriers consist of interconnected epithelial cells bound by tight junction proteins that hold them together like a stitched quilt. Then, the immune system coats these “quilts” with a mucus layer full of immune-fighting white blood cells that look for pathogens trying to invade the body.
These mucus coated barriers are known as your body’s innate immunity and if pathogens get through this first barrier they will try to multiply in your body and cause illness. Recognizing and destroying pathogens that have invaded your body is the second line of immune defense called the adaptive immunity. Immune cells in your blood stream identify the pathogens and create antibodies to destroy them preventing further illness. With this one-two punch of innate and adaptive immune response, you have strong immune health.
Why is Gut Health So Important for Immune Health?
Now that we understand that immune health begins at your body’s outer barriers, it is important to recognize that your gut represents the majority of the shield that your immune system is using to defend from pathogens. There is 10 times more surface area in the digestive system than on your skin1,2. And just as the gut-brain axis has been found to have a profound impact on brain health, the immune system gut connection has a greater impact on immunity than science has previously known. Research indicates that 70% of the body’s pathogen-fighting white blood cells reside in the gut and digestive tract3.
So, whether immune health is strong depends almost entirely on whether your immune system is working well in your gut.
Thankfully, our body has evolved to include one more line of defense to pathogens in your gut. It is your microbiota or genetically speaking, your microbiome.
How do Your Gut Microbiota and Immune System Work Together?
How the immune system and gut microbiome work together requires us to understand that the microbiome and the pathogens trying to invade the body are both microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. The important difference is that the microorganisms in your microbiome want to keep you healthy so they can thrive. Pathogens are invasive and do not want to live in harmony within our bodies. However, it is the similarities between the microbiome and pathogens that allows the microbiome to displace any pathogens in our gut lining and use up resources that these pathogens would otherwise need to survive. The microbiome even alters the environment in the mucus layer to thwart these pathogens before they enter your body4. Your microbiome does all of this to keep pathogens out of the gut so that your beneficial microbes can remain. When we are healthy, so is the microbiome. When our microbiome is healthy, so are we. It is a partnership for life, literally.
ION* Supports Immune Health
So now that we understand that immune health is mostly about keeping a healthy gut, we need to size up our enemies. Environmental toxins can invade our bodies and are known to damage the gut and weaken our immune health. For example, glyphosate, the main ingredient in herbicides such as Roundup, rips apart the seals that keep our body’s defensive barriers together. This damage allows pathogens to easily invade our bodies.
Fortunately, nature is intelligent. It has provided molecules that can signal the body to quickly restore the gut lining. Our scientists discovered a unique family of molecules in ancient layers of soil and have integrated this all-natural gift into our dietary supplement, ION* Gut Support5. By taking ION* Gut Support before every meal you strengthen your gut barrier, letting your immune system defend your body from pathogens and provide the strong immune health we all deserve!
Matthew Bednar, PhD
Bringing science out of the lab and into your life
- Surface area of the digestive tract – revisited, Herbert F Helander & Lars Fändriks, Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, Volume 49, 2014 - Issue 6, Pages 681-689
- How does skin work?, Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. 2009 Sep 28 [Updated 2019 Apr 11].
- Allergy and the gastrointestinal system, Vighi G, Marcucci F, Sensi L, Di Cara G, Frati F., Clin Exp Immunol. 2008;153 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):3–6. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.
- Gut Microbiota: Role in Pathogen Colonization, Immune Responses and Inflammatory Disease, Joseph M. Pickard, Melody Y. Zeng, Roberta Caruso, and Gabriel Núñez, Immunol Rev. 2017 September ; 279(1): 70–89. doi:10.1111/imr.12567.
- Protective Effects of Lignite Extract Supplement on Intestinal Membrane Function in Glyphosate-Mediated Tight Junction Injury, Gildea JJ, Roberts DA, Bush Z., J Clin Nutr Diet. 2017, 3:1. doi: 10.4172/2472-1921.100035.