One thing that people always recommend when it comes to building a healthy immune system is Vitamin C. Well, whilst we concur that getting enough Vitamin C is important, there is another way to strengthen your immune system - by making sure your gut is healthy.

Most of us don’t really consider that the going’s on in our gut can have a major impact on the rest of our health. So many aspects of our bodily functions are actually under the control of the countless bacteria that live within the intestine.

You may be thinking that bacteria is BAD and what causes disease but the good bacteria that lies within your gut not only keep you fit and healthy, but also keep you alive.

There are 100 trillion intestinal bacteria that make up what is called the human microbiome and these are involved in countless functions that have a profound effect on our health, risk for disease, longevity, mood, and even our weight.

Your gut is what makes your immune system strong because it acts as a defence against anything you ingest and your body.

Here are the two main reasons why GOOD bacteria in your gut can help strengthen your overall immunity…

Your gut flora is what strengthens your gut wall.

Gut flora is essentially a complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts. Your body is protected from potential pathogens by a layer of cells lining the gut and by chemical barriers. Your gut flora is what activates the immune functions in your body.

It helps to reduce inflammation.

Your gut holds approximately 60-70 percent of your immune system, so it stands to reason that it would be a great place to reduce inflammation. Inflammation can be triggered by several factors, the top ones include poor dietary choices, poor gut health, food sensitivities, stress, infections (bacteria, viral, yeast) and sedentary lifestyle.

So how can you improve your gut health?

Take a good probiotic daily.  This will help boost the good bacteria in your gut, keeping the bad guys under control by boosting your immune system and easing digestive issues. This is a particularly good idea if you’re medication such as antibiotics.

Eat more whole foods. You can also get your probiotics from whole foods. Choose foods that are fermented and contain good bacteria such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and coconut kefir. Try avoiding vinegar based and pasteurised varieties as these can kill good bacteria. Certain foods also feed and support the growth of good bacteria. By eating more whole, plant-based, fibre-filled foods, you’re fuelling the bacteria that support your health.

Eat often - but don’t graze. You have to give your gut the chance to clean up and clear out the bacteria and waste it’s harbouring. Snacking constantly slows down digestion and contributes to bacterial overgrowth.

Keep drinking water. Making sure you stay hydrated means that you’re bacteria will remain balanced and reduce inflammation.

Try to ease stress. Stress can wreak havoc in your gut. Try to work through your stress and reduce your levels by working through meditation techniques, yoga and your breath> work.

Eat less processed foods. Eating a lot of sugar and processed foods is giving the bad bacteria all the ammunition it needs to breed. So clean up your diet and start feeding your body what it deserves.

Looking after your gut can make such a big difference to your overall health. By keeping your gut in tip top condition you can feel happier, healthier and be fitter than ever before.