The food one eats gives energy that is used by cells in the body to grow and proliferate. Digestion is the most important life process and the GI tract is dependent on the gut bacteria for its seamless operation. Interestingly, medical research has proved that the digestive system and the immune system are interconnected in such a way that for one to work fine, the other has to be healthy as well.
The GI Tract
The GI tract comprises of all the organs from the mouth to the large intestine that helps in the ingestion of food and absorption of water and other nutrients from the food. There are plenty of factors that affect the digestive system:
- Food intolerance
- Stomach or intestinal infection
The Immune System
The immune system is responsible for the development of a strong body to fight infections and prevent it from contracting diseases. The system comprises of gastrointestinal immune cells that secrete lymphocyte cells to attack foreign bodies. These gut immune cells and the microflora prevent the growth of microbes and fight pathogens and toxins that are ingested along with the food.
How are They Connected?
Here’s how they are connected:
- When one suffers from a weak stomach or food sensitivity, they have impaired digestion.
- This can lead to diarrhea or chronic GI tract infections like IBS or IBD where the gut bacteria are completely destroyed and gastrointestinal immune cells become weak.
- This leads to an unbalanced gut resulting in a compromised immune system.
- Hence, one finds it hard to fight infection as a result of which the digestive system takes time to repair itself and get back to normalcy.
How to Maintain a Healthy Gut and a Strong Digestive System?
The gut is a house of millions of good bacteria. The gut flora should always be maintained at a balanced level for the digestive tract and immune system to function well. To maintain a healthy gut, one can:
- Consume a good amount of probiotics in their food. Probiotics help the body to distinguish between pathogens and antigens. They also reduce the possibility of stomach infections due to food allergy. High-fiber foods, curd, yogurt, etc. are rich in probiotics.
- Antibiotics can destroy the gut flora. Similarly, too much stress level can also affect the number of good bacteria in the gut. Hence, when one is undergoing an antibiotic course, they should include probiotic food items in their diet after consultation with their doctors to compensate for the loss of good bacteria.
- After diarrhea, the absorption level of the small intestine and large intestine becomes very less as the gut does not contain good bacteria which aids in the absorption of nutrients. Hence, one must hydrate themselves well, eat a BRAT diet as prescribed by a physician and slowly build up their gut flora to get back the strong digestive system.
If the digestive tract is not working properly, it can lead to low absorption of nutrients that will affect the overall health. Thus, it is vital to maintain a healthy gut to have a strong immune system.