A significant proportion of your immune system resides in your gastrointestinal tract. Harvard researchers have now identified the specific population of gut bacteria that modulate localized and systemic immune responses to ward off viral invaders.

Bacteroides fragilis and other bacteria in the Bacteroides family initiate a signalling cascade that induces the release of interferon-beta, which protects against viral invasion by stimulating immune cells to attack the virus and causing virus-infected cells to self destruct – known as autophagy.

Zonulin-mediated gut permeability (leaky-gut) plays a determining role in the pathogenesis of many chronic inflammatory diseases. Zonulin is produced in response to bad bacteria. It flushes the bacteria into the body by opening up the tight junctions.

Aside from bacteria overgrowth, gluten is another powerful trigger of zonulin release, as the zonulin pathway misinterprets gluten as a potential harmful component of a microorganism.

Chronic inflammatory diseases associated with dysregulation of the zonulin pathway and leaky gut include autoimmune disorders, metabolic disorders, intestinal diseases, neuroinflammatory diseases and cancer of the brain and liver.

All of this information should really drive home the point that optimizing your gut flora is of crucial importance for good health. By reseeding your gut with beneficial bacteria, you can keep pathogenic microbes and fungi in check and prevent them from taking over. Regularly eating traditionally fermented and cultured foods is the easiest, most effective and least expensive way to make a significant impact on your gut microbiome.