How to boost your immune system via your gut

Clinical nutritionist Stephanie Moore shares the advice we should all be taking right about now

Gut health has had a bit of a moment over the last 12 months, but there’s never been a more important time to pay heed. “Gut microbe activity has an influence over every system in the human body from digestion to immune balance; inflammatory responses, even brain health,” explains clinical nutritionist Stephanie Moore. But as well as that, bacteria in our guts – and maintaining diverse gut flora – is crucial in keeping our immune systems fighting fit. Even if you have no concerns over gut health or immunity, it’s still worth giving some thought as to how you can support healthy gut function, says Stephanie, who leads Grayshott Manor’s Gut Health programme. “Poor gut function isn’t always obvious – it can manifest as brain fog, fatigue, skin issues, weight issues, immune problems and so many more ‘non-gut’ issues, too.”

Here’s Stephanie’s advice on keeping your gut happy and healthy…

Fill up on fibre

“I talk about the three ‘F’s for a healthy gut and the first is fibre, which the gut microbes feed on to fuel activity. It should be included with every meal. Include a wide range of veg in many different colours – think berries, kiwi, beans and lentils, as well as onions, garlic, nuts and seeds which are are all good sources of fibre.”

Start fermenting

“The second ‘F’ is fermented food. This means things like live yogurt, fermented veg like raw sauerkraut and kimchi, raw apple cider vinegar, kombucha and kefir drinks which are all rich in probiotic bacteria. A range of these a few times a week is good practice.”

 Fast occasionally

“The first ‘F’ stands for fasting, so eating nothing for up to 16 hours a couple of days a week (overnight counts, so eating dinner early and breakfast a little later the following day) or following the 5:2 diet where you eat just small amounts two days a week. This allows healing and restoration of the gut.”

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 Ditch snacks

“I always advise people to stop snacking. Focusing on eating two or three hearty, well-balanced meals each day with nothing in between gives your gut a rest, which is really key to keeping it happy.”

 Eat (and drink) mindfully

“Eating slowly, chewing each mouthful really well and focusing on what you’re eating rather than watching TV and looking at your phone is really very important. If you aren’t noticing that you’re eating, your body will not be in the right gear to digest properly. Never eat on the go, when distracted or on your feet. If you’re too busy to eat, wait! I also suggest avoiding too much water while eating – small sips is fine, but large amounts can compromise digestive function.”

 Consider probiotics

“If you consistently follow the three ‘F’s then probiotics won’t be necessary unless you have a specific health issue (it’s always worth getting professional advice on this as increasingly we understand certain probiotics are needed for different patients and symptoms). If you do decide to take a probiotic to support your immune system, I love Symprove, a liquid probiotic which is gentle and supportive for stimulating the growth your own healthy microbes. Taken very first thing in the morning, it’s great for bloating, bowel issues, immune-boosting and so much more.”

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