Building Immunity from Within: Part 2 of 2

Learn how to take care of your immune system through improved gut health.

Ayurveda, or the science of life, is an ancient medical system in India which also recognized thousands of years ago that all disease begins with impaired GI function. There are three focus areas that are important in this regard:


As Dr. Meletis explained, it is estimated that between 70-80 percent of immune system action happens in the region around the intestine. The intestinal lining is a thin barrier that separates us from the world and relies on populations of microorganisms that live within the mucus layer next to this single-celled layer. This slimy barrier allows nutrient absorption while keeping pathogens (viruses and bacteria for example) and undigested food particles (such as gluten) out of our circulation. When this breaks down, the gut is “leaky” resulting in inflammation, and often leaves us feeling tired, run down and eventually results in allergies and autoimmune and other disease.

It is said that our health is only as strong as our digestive fire and a diet that is rich in spices, vegetable fiber and prebiotic foods is the foundation of vibrant health. Within the Ayurvedic diet there is an emphasis on spices (cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and many more) dates, raisins, good fats such as ghee, honey, yogurt, fresh seasonal foods and herbs. We are learning that compounds in whole herbs and spices, such as polyphenols and polysaccharides and slimy lubricating foods such as onions, asparagus and teas such as Licorice, Marshmallow and Slippery Elm can positively shift the microbiome and body towards a healthier state. These nutrients, when combined with mindfulness and stress management, are the basis of immunity according to ancient texts, and now modern science.

TIP: try to cultivate a reverence for your digestive fire and treat it like a campfire. Would you throw iced water on it? Or too many logs at once? No! Instead of chugging ice-cold water try sipping warm water or tea throughout the day, and not overeating or eating too frequently. Eating during the daylight hours and with a mindful intention are also great practices. The fire will help your microbiome to produce the essence of vitality and health.

Lymphatic System:

There is also important action on the other side of the intestine, which in modern science is known as the MALT or the “mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue”; a network of lymphatic tissue which surrounds the GI tract, nose, thyroid, breast, lungs, eyes and the skin. Processed food and sedentary lifestyles can clog up the lymph system, and like the plumbing of a building, a clogged system results in accumulation of toxins and waste products. Immune system white blood cells in this lymphatic system can only be transported throughout the body when we move or massage our body. Signs of lymphatic congestion include fatigue, bloating, skin issues, cellulite, brain fog and poor immunity. In addition to diet, Ayurveda’s answer to maintain a healthy lymph system is regular exercise such as yoga, dry-brushing, oil massage, good sleep and even breathing techniques. Researchers believe that yawning is our body’s way of clearing the lymph from our brains which have their own (recently discovered) glymphatic system!


The third important aspect of the digestive process is the formation of bile by the liver.  Recent studies show that there is an interaction between gut microbes, bile acids and the immune system. Ayurveda has long recognized that cultivating healthy bile flow is critical for digestion of fats, which in turn, keeps our lymph and all other tissues healthy. Use of seasonal cleansing to reset the gut, ample bitter leafy greens, and herbs (including triphala and Turmeric) all help to produce healthy bile. Western herbalism also has many bitter liver-protecting herbs such as Dandelion, Burdock, and Milk Thistle.


Joanne Roberts
Product Development Scientist


About Joanne Roberts

With over 29 years of experience in supplement formulation and quality control, Jo is passionate about gardening, herbs, and nutrition and enjoys sharing her creations in her free time with loved ones. She is an avid adventurer who finds solace in the forest or bonding with her dog, goats, and chickens. Additionally, she is a mom, author, Ayurvedic Health Counselor, and is currently in the process of becoming an Ayurvedic Practitioner. Fueled by her own health journey, she is devoted to imparting the transformational wisdom of nature through the holistic art and science of Yoga and Ayurveda.