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11-16-20 Immune System and Gut Microbiome –Carolyn Dean MD ND 

Your digestive system is a key contributor to a strong immune system, heart health, brain health, improved mood, and much more. The digestive system, also called the gastrointestinal (GI) system, is made up of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine plus accessory organs that include salivary glands, pancreas, liver, digestive enzymes, and gallbladder. Within the gut itself lives an entire universe of 38 trillion gut microbes – that’s almost as many microbes as cells in the body! The gut is our biggest organ of immunity and it provides our first level of immune defense.

The gut and its attendant organs influence many aspects of human health including the immune system, cardiovascular health, the brain and nervous system, metabolism, and much more. For the purpose of our radio show tonight, however, we are focusing on the relationship between our immune system and our gut where 70%-80% of the body’s immune cells are found. And the Microbiome in the gut regulates the immune response.

The dynamics of gut health are being understood by natural and allopathic medicine in new and wonderful ways! Even mainstream medicine is beginning to acknowledge that bacteria within this internal landscape seem to be critical to supporting immune health. And, many individuals are now realizing that if you have imbalances within the gut microbiome you’re more prone to compromised immunity.

The good news is that our bodies are judicious when it comes to utilizing nature as a resource for health. It’s not surprising, then, that the very nutrients recommended for immune support are also an asset to the gut:


Since the immune system depends on the Microbiome the most important nutrients for the gut include probiotics – especially if they are soil based – and a natural antifungal.

Zinc Researchers have found that the right amount of zinc is critical to intestinal health and is especially important in protecting the epithelial lining of the gut. A compromise of the epithelial layer of the gut is a factor in many diseases including IBS, Celiac Disease, chronic diarrhea and esophageal cancer.

Vitamin D

There is a growing body of evidence showing the importance of vitamin D on intestinal host-microbiome interactions related to gut dysbiosis and bowel inflammation. Research shows how vitamin D (a) modulates intestinal microbiome function, (b) controls antimicrobial peptide expression, and (c) has a protective effect on epithelial barriers in the gut mucosa.

Vitamin C and Vitamin E In a recently published review in the journal Redox Biology, they suggest that changes in the gut microbiome and increases in inflammation seen with metabolic syndrome can easily result in vitamin C depletion, and this can lead to vitamin E depletion.

Antioxidants like vitamins C and E are the first line of defense against oxidative stress brought on by free radicals – unstable molecules that can damage cells. Vitamin E is particularly good at stopping the oxidation of fats, especially those that reside in the membrane of cells.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a precious resource for the gut. This vitamin may make an unrecognized contribution in shaping the structure and function of human gut microbial communities. Vitamin B12 nourishes the gut microbiota and use it to support the growth of other microbes strengthening the immunity and performance of the body.


Low magnesium levels can compromise cell membrane integrity, damaging the vital fatty layer in the cell membrane, making it more susceptible to destruction, and allowing leakage through the membrane. This particular finding, which implicates magnesium deficiency as one of the causes of leaky cell membranes, or leaky gut, is extremely important because disruption of this type can be fatal to cells and cause widespread problems that ultimately manifest in dozens of symptoms and conditions, including aging.

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