More than two thirds of our immune system is housed in our gut, meaning that the digestive tract is key to communicating with the immune system and a poorly functioning digestive system may be at the root of many conditions relating to immunity.
A healthy gastrointestinal (GI) tract acts as a barrier to prevent undigested food particles, bacteria and other toxins from entering the bloodstream via our gut wall. When the gut wall becomes damaged, these unwanted particles are able to pass into the body via the bloodstream. They are then attacked by the immune system leading to inflammation, which can appear anywhere in the body, including the skin.
In addition, one of the key roles of the gut microbiome (bacteria) is to support the immune system. When the ratio of good to bad bacteria becomes imbalanced, the bad bacteria can influence an immune response, which can lead to inflammatory conditions, such as eczema. This bacterial balance can be affected by lifestyle factors, including:
· Overuse of medications, particularly antibiotics
· Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods
· Diets low in fibre and fermented foods
· Environmental toxins
· Chronic stress
· Gut infections, yeast overgrowth or parasites
· Undetected gluten intolerance, coeliac disease or reactions to foods such as dairy and eggs
Thus, the health of your GI tract and your gut bacteria determine how well you digest your food, which nutrients are absorbed and what toxins, allergens and bacteria are kept out, and also influence your immune function.