Corona or Covid-19 and the options we have of protecting ourselves against it dominated this year’s headlines. This sparked renewed interest in how we can boost our immune system in general and do something for our health. Here, the microbiome – the aggregate of all bacteria, viruses and other microbes on our skin and in our body – plays a key role.
In this pandemic year, several scientific studies demonstrated the connection between microbiome and immune system and showed that if we selectively strengthen good bacteria, we can have a positive influence on our health. Only a few weeks ago, the Robert-Koch-Foundation gave its eponymous award to scientists whose research focuses on the relationship between microflora and immune system – among others to immunologist Yasmine Belkaid of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in the United States. In the laudation, she was commended for showing “in an authoritative way how the bacteria that colonize our intestines and skin train our microflora, our immune system, and thus help us to fight off infectious agents.”
In an interview given several years previously, Belkaid had already stressed the importance of examining the microbiome’s composition more closely. “The microbiome plays a crucial role in regulating the immune system and our metabolism. But if you suffer an infection or have a genetic disposition, e.g. in the case of an inflammatory bowel disease, microorganisms may turn into aggressors.” At the same time, however, they can also “stimulate the immune system by, as it were, training it and to some extent provoking it so that it’ll react better to infections.”
A healthy diet is crucial for the microbiome. Not only the gut flora, but indirectly our skin, wellbeing and also our immune system depend on it (cf. http://www.gesunde-bakterien.de/en/our-immune-system-is-in-the-gut/). Even inflammatory rheumatic conditions can be influenced positively by the microbiome, and the microbiome in turn by the composition of our diet, a fact highlighted this year by the German Society for Rheumatology (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Rheumatologie, DGRh). “Increasing consumption of processed foods and use of antibiotics significantly reduce the gut microbiome’s diversity”, it said. And the further biodiversity within the microbiome declines, the faster pathogens causing diseases and inflammations will proliferate in the body. Research conducted in 2021 hence shows once again that a well-balanced diet can result in a microbiome rich in species, and this leads to a strong immune system and a better overall health.
Dieser Post ist auch verfügbar auf: German