Optimal gut health is key to a strong immune system, here’s why!

Prebiotics have gained a lot of traction and popularity over the past few years, in particular their relation to the health of our gut - or more interestingly, the gut microbiome. 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term prebiotics, they are a type of indigestible fibre that pass through our digestive system to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in our colon - also known as our large intestine. 

Prebiotics can be found in chickpeas, onions, garlic, wheat-based foods, cashew nuts, custard apples, dried fruit and oats, and are not to be confused with probiotics

The KOJA Oat Bars, especially the cinnamon and raisin flavour is a wonderful source of prebiotics.

Probiotics on the other hand, is the term we give to the ‘beneficial bacteria’ that reside in our gut. 

Prebiotics = the food (or the fuel) for the probiotics.

In other words, the greater amount of prebiotics we consume via our diet, the greater diversity of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in our gut and the better our overall health outcomes. 

You might be thinking, so how does this relate to my Immune System?

An essential part of our immune system is our gut microbiome, also referred to as our gut flora. The microbiome is made up of billions (no exaggeration) of bacterial cells. 

70% of our immune cells are actually located within our gut microbiome, so it makes sense that a thriving gut which is home to billions of beneficial bacteria is essential to a strong immune system, right?

According to the research, diversity in our diet and therefore diversity in our gut flora is essential for our immune health and how our bodies respond to challenges such as bacteria, viruses and allergens. 

With the temperature dropping here in Australia and the likelihood of obtaining a cold-related illness increasing, it’s important we implement strategies to support our immune health and keep our illness risk at bay. 

Here are my top dietitian tips on how to do so: 

  • Consume a wide variety of prebiotic-rich foods everyday to support your gut health and immune cells. Research suggests that we should all aim to consume 30 different plant foods every single week for optimal gut health. Remember, plant foods include fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, lentils and legumes.

  • Replace highly processed snacks that have a low nutritional value with snacks made predominantly from prebiotic and plant based ingredients. Our favourites are KOJA bars, home-made hummus dip with whole-grain crackers and nut-butter based snacks.

  • Ensure you consume adequate amounts of protein in your diet to support the structural component of your immune cells. Protein can be found in lean sources of meat, dairy products, lentils and legumes, tofu and nuts and seeds. 
  • Focus on adding foods that also contain probiotics into your diet. Our favourites are greek yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and pickles. 
Did you find this blog helpful? We’d love to hear from you!
Written by Dietitian and Nutritionist Millie Padula from Dietitian Edition for KOJA