Some surprising research into how closely connected the gut and lungs are
I’m always surprised by how much our gut health governs our bodily systems. From our internal organs right through to our mental health and beyond. Research is slowly proving how important it is to love our guts.
New research from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and CU School of Medicine immunology looked at Streptococcus pneumonia bacteria in animal models. Researchers studied the changes in intestinal microbial populations after an infection. If you were wondering, Streptococcus pneumonia is apparent in the nasal passages of healthy adults. People with very healthy immune systems live everyday life with this, and it usually doesn’t cause any health issues.
On the other hand, people with compromised immune systems, including the elderly, become much more susceptible as their immune systems can’t control the usually hovering bacteria. This bacteria can then travel into other bodily places, causing ear infections and spreading into the lungs. When this happens, pneumonia begins to manifest.
How a leaky gut can be a problem
Research on older mice discovered elevated levels of gut-derived bacteria in the lungs, suggesting that bacteria had migrated from the intestine to the lungs. This may be what’s somewhat responsible for poor outcomes for older individuals.
One reason the bacteria migrated is that with age, our guts become somewhat ‘leaky’ as the mechanisms in the body have in place to keep that gut bacteria away begin to break down. A similar comparison can be made between burn trauma patients and people who abuse alcohol.
As we age, elevated inflammation in the body seems to increase the problem, causing more inflammatory bacteria to overwhelm the gut. Unfortunately, as we age, our heightened sense of inflammatory response induces the gut to be more pro-inflammatory. This instance leads to potentially pathogenic bacteria in the stomach leaking out into corresponding organs, and that’s when someone’s health begins to deteriorate fast.
How can we fight infection?
As we age, we become five times more likely to become hospitalised following pneumonia infection. Mortality rates from this infection exceed 50 per cent, depending on any underlying conditions the person may have. Including strategies like probiotics and a healthy diet will help increase the good bacteria populating the gut. Further studies are needed to develop a particular drug to assist older individuals. Although the drug researchers are trying to develop may take a long time to hit our pharmacies. In the meantime, we can take the natural route towards better gut health now and well into seniority.
Here are some widespread and easy ways to increase healthy gut bacteria
One: Daily consumption of a diverse range of fruits and vegetables
Eat what’s in season according to where you live, and try to add different varieties. Green vegetables are your best bet.
Two: Eat fermented foods daily with every meal
These foods include yogurt with probiotics, kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi.
Three: Include lots of prebiotic foods
This one throws many people off, but the varieties are straightforward. Include resistant starch, which is found in many fruits and veggies. Although this is not very tasty, add green bananas to your diet. For example, chop them up and add them to your smoothie if they become hard to eat.
Four: Plant-based foods as regularly as possible
Animal protein doesn’t favour your gut, whereas plant-based foods are high in fibre and provide many health benefits. Foods like lentils and beans are great to add every so often. That’s not to say you should not eat animal protein, but make it a priority to infuse your diet with many plant-based alternatives.
The key message here is to love your guts by looking after them with wholesome and nourishing foods and eliminating all foods that cause inflammation that may lead to a leaky gut as you age.
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