Good Gut Health Can Blunt Viruses, Doctor Says

This flu season is off to a deadly start. The CDC reports that 2,100 Americans have died from the disease so far, including seven children. Most cases are influenza A (H3N2) viruses, but the incidence of influenza A (H1N1) is slightly increasing.

Fourteen states, mostly southern and eastern, are currently experiencing the highest possible levels of flu activity, and many are not far behind. Nearly 38,000 people have been hospitalized with the flu so far this season, the highest level this early in the season since the 2009 Swine Flu outbreak.

New York City’s Mt. “Here we are again,” he said. “Thinking and planning for a surge that will be really hard for us to digest in the next few months.”

The flu isn’t the only virus currently affecting the United States. RSV, COVID-19, and the common cold are other viruses circulating in the country that are likely to spread more widely as people gather around the holidays.

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However, exposure to a virus does not necessarily translate into illness. Gastroenterologist and gut health expert Dr. Robynne Chutkan, a strong immune system can make the difference between the absence of symptoms, mild symptoms or serious illness and even death. Anti-Viral Gut: Fighting Pathogens from the Inside Out.

Dr. “70 to 80 percent of your immune system actually resides physically in your gut,” Chutkan told CBN News.

*** READING: The Best Things You Can Do for Your Intestines

A strong immune system can be traced back to higher levels of good bacteria in the gut because these organisms can recognize that harmful viruses have entered the body.

“And this results in the release of something called interferon,” Chutkan explained. “Interferons are called interferons because they interfere with viruses. And then interferons are the beginning of this whole cascade of events in this immune chain that rushes to protect us from the virus, like killer t-cells and antibodies.”

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The good bacteria that are vital to a healthy immune system are living organisms found in foods like yogurt and kimchi, drinks like kombucha, and some probiotic supplements.

However, just like soldiers in an army, having some of these good bacteria in our gut is not enough to effectively resist the onslaught of viruses that attack our bodies. Dr. Chutkan says we should get a lot of them. That’s why it’s critically important to feed the good bacteria with fiber-rich foods for their growth and reproduction, she says.

“Thirty different plant foods a week was kind of a magic number for a healthy microbiome,” he said. “So you get credit for fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, spices, all. I can get ten different phytonutrients in a bowl of oatmeal.”

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And while fiber strengthens the gut, some medications can harm it. Dr. These medications include antibiotics and stomach acid blockers, Chutkan says.

“Stomach acid is one of your body’s main defenses against viruses,” he said. “When you ingest a virus, which is a common way people get infected, and you have intact stomach acid levels, that dissolves the viral protein and inactivates it.”

Still, these drugs can be lifesaving in some cases, so Dr. Chutkan recommends discussing with your doctor whether you really need them.

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