Building Immunity from Within (Part 1 of 2)

2020 has been a year of challenges, opportunity for growth and memorable moments as the global community has faced a health awakening in unison.

In the functional medicine community of healthcare providers and patients alike it has reaffirmed that “susceptibility” is a fundamental consideration when fortifying one’s body.

Most all of us remember the story of the 3 little pigs. One built their house of straw, the other sticks and the third out of bricks. This 2020 era of awakening wellness has motivated us to build a strong foundation and focus on diet, lifestyle and supplementation.

Hippocrates 400 BC has been credited with several provocative, yet simple, truths that have now been largely validated by science...

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food"
“Disease Begins in the Gut”
“Everything in Excess is Opposed to Nature”

I'd like to bring more focus on eating to support and nurture our microbiome; the community “ecology” of bacteria that live in our gastrointestinal tract. The composition of these bacteria determine not only our health but can also produce select vitamins and impact how well we digest our food, all the while deciding whether or not we are susceptible to “leaky gut syndrome.” Their presence alone can switch genes on and off to impact our entire health and well being. 

The next time you contemplate making a meal, please ask yourself this simple question: “When you eat, who are you feeding and fueling?” Most of my patients respond immediately with “I am feeding myself.” Indeed, it is correct that the nutrients in our food fuel the trillions of cells within our tissues and organs. The same food also nourishes approximately 100 trillion bacteria (microbes) that live in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It is impossible to even consider our existence without these commensal bacteria that serve countless health-supportive functions. And of all these functions, one of the most important includes the regulation of our immune system. Did you know that the GI tract comprises 70 to 80 percent of your total immune system?

The word “probiotic” is a commonly understood concept, whether it arises from consuming yogurts and other targeted food products or supplements offering a wide variety of probiotics such as species of Lactobacillus and/or Bifidobacterium. It is vitally important to remember that whether you are supplementing your existing microbiome ecology or just endeavor to tend to supporting a healthy GI tract, “prebiotics” cannot be forgotten. Crucial plant fibers, prebiotics are like the packed lunch to fuel and sustain the probiotics and resident bacteria.

Common botanical prebiotics include: chicory, inulin, fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) which are commonly derived from Jerusalem artichokes. Less commonly known yet traditional prebiotics include dandelion, garlic, burdock root and fibers such as flaxseed, to mention a few.

As I share with my patients, ensuring you are having 2-3 bowel movements per day is also vitally important. Though it seems simplistic, slow bowels can be considered stagnant ponds, whereas regular moving gastrointestinal tracts can be considering babbling brooks. My question to my patients is where would one expect mosquitoes to grow? 😊   

Next month…
Joanne Roberts, an exceptionally accomplished botanist and Ayurvedic Health Coach and Practitioner (in-training), will share with you supportive GI health from an Ayurvedic philosophy.

Peace and Abundant Blessings,
Dr. Chris Meletis, N.D.


About Dr. Meletis, N.D.

Chris Meletis, N.D., has more than 25 years of experience practicing natural medicine. Based in Portland, Oregon, he shares his vast knowledge with fellow healthcare providers and his patients, and generously give to those in need. A lecturer and author, Dr. Meletis as written over a dozen books and hundreds of national articles. He was named Naturopathic Physician of the Year in 2003 by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and was inducted into the National University of Natural Medicine Hall of Fame in 2018.