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Fiber & Your Immune System: How Fiber Supports Your Immune System
Our gut microbiomes have a variety of important functions in our bodies, and one of the most valuable roles they play is in supporting our immune system. If you want to promote the health and wellness of your body, you need to feed them the food they love: fiber! Eating a wide variety of fiber will ensure that you’re giving those little buggers what they need to thrive.
Fiber is found in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and yes, it’s also in your new fave soda, OLIPOP!1
What is The Immune System
Now that you’ve met your new best friend, your gut microbiome, let’s chat about who they like to party with. Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against foreign invaders, and it works closely with your microbiome to promote health.2
What Does The Immune System Do and How Does It Work?
You’re born with innate immunity (thanks mom) and your adaptive immune system develops over time as you’re exposed to pathogens like bacteria and viruses. Think of your innate immune system like the bouncers at the club: If pathogens get past them, your adaptive immunity kicks in. B lymphocytes, or B cells, are the security inside the club, identifying foreign invaders and creating antibodies to make the bad guys easier to spot the next time they show up. T lymphocytes, or T cells are the enforcers. They get valuable intel in their earpieces, spot the trouble, and remove it, so that everyone can get back to dancing, or in the case of your body’s immune system, get back to feeling good.3
In this example, your gut microbes are the people at the club, enjoying themselves until someone gets out of hand. Then they become the brave individuals that step in to help the B and T cells by pointing out the problem and fortifying the protective lining in your gut.
Immune Health And Digestion
If you’re new to the microbiome conversation, then you might not know that there are trillions of tiny microbes living in and on your body. They’re dictating your life by communicating with your immune system, making vitamins, amino acids, and short chain fatty acids to support your health. Your microbiome is unique to you based on a variety of factors like DNA, environment, and diet. Researchers are uncovering powerful ways in which your microbiome encourages overall health, so much so, that some are now referring to it as a support organ.4
The gastrointestinal tract is made up of organs whose primary function is digestion, absorption, and the excretion of food. In the large intestine, microbes digest fiber and send signals to the epithelial cells and immune cells lining your gut, creating one of our body’s first lines of defense against foreign invaders. The microbes in your gut are providing constant feedback to educate your intestinal immune system.5
Fiber, Gut Health & Immune System
A properly functioning gut microbiome is essential for health, so how can we best support it? Our invisible gut microbes have been ignored for far too long, but now these VIPs are getting the recognition they deserve. Let’s roll out the red carpet for them and start supporting their efforts by eating a wide variety of fiber. Variety is paramount because they have different preferences, and when we eat a colorful array of produce, we also benefit from a buffet of nutrients and powerful plant chemicals that interact with our body to promote health.
Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate and can be broken down into two categories, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers dissolve in water to form a gel, traveling all the way to the large intestine, where they are fermented by microbes, to produce short chain fatty acids (SCFA). SCFA are a main source of energy for other microbes and your body.6 Soluble fiber is considered a prebiotic, a substance that feeds the good bacteria in your gut, and can be found in abundance in beans, apples, flax, oatmeal and OLIPOP’s proprietary fiber blend OLISMART.
Insoluble fiber passes through the intestines and helps give bulk to your stool, maintaining regular bowel movements...something we all take for granted until they aren’t, well, “regular.”7
How to Support Your Immune System & Immune and Gut Health
Fiber helps promote a strong immune system, but what else can we do to support gut health and immunity?
- Limit sugar: A high intake of dietary sugar changes your gut microbes, which can lead to an impaired gut barrier.8 Check out what happens to your body when you eat too much sugar.
- Decrease stress: Short term and chronic stress can decrease your body’s ability to fight disease, leaving you vulnerable to infections.9 Take a look at to see why we take time to slow down every morning at OLIPOP headquarters.
- Sleep: When sleep is compromised, the immune system doesn’t function at optimal levels, leaving you susceptible to infection. In turn, when you’re sick, sleeping has a positive effect on immunity to hasten the healing process. Matthew Walker, a sleep expert at UC Berkeley, says sleep is the “elixir of life” and the first pillar of health alongside diet and exercise.10 11
Ok we get it...we’re supposed to eat more fiber, something we’ve heard our grandmas say for years, but aside from prunes and salad, what other foods are good sources of fiber? The American Heart Association recommends eating 25-28 g fiber a day.12 That’s a tall order if the majority of our intake is from processed foods. To make it easy for us to remember, fiber makes up every part of whole foods, so naturally, eating more whole foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds, infuses your day with much needed fiber.
There’s absolutely no substitute for eating whole foods, but OLIPOP makes it easy to hit your fiber goal by adding a whopping 8-9 g of fiber per can! That’s about one third of your daily needs, and it goes down like a breeze, as the perfect compliment to any meal. For more ideas on how to give your body buggers the fiber that they want, check out our other post on adding fiber to your every day routine.
Incorporate Prebiotics (like OLIPOP!)
You may be wondering how OLIPOP is able to pack 8-9 g of gut supporting prebiotics, or soluble fiber, into a can of soda? Naturally occurring soluble fiber turns into a gel like substance in your gut, so we’ve taken some of the best sources, and combined it with natural flavors, to create the most epic tasting beverage on the market. Throw a party for your microbes with every sip!13
- “Prebiotics.” International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, 2021. https://isappscience.org/for-scientists/resources/prebiotics/.
- “The Microbiome.” Harvard School of Public Health, The Nutrition Source. 2021. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/microbiome/#:~:text=In%20addition%20to%20family%20genes,of%20microbiota%20in%20the%20intestines.
- “Immune System.” KidsHealth.org, October, 2019. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/immune.html.
- Thomas, Sunil et al. “The Host Microbiome Regulates and Maintains Human Health: A Primer and Perspective for Non-Microbiologists.” Cancer research vol. 77,8 (2017): 1783-1812. doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-16-2929
- Castro-Dopico, Tomas, and Menna R Clatworthy. “IgG and Fcγ Receptors in Intestinal Immunity and Inflammation.” Frontiers in immunology vol. 10 805. 12 Apr. 2019, doi:10.3389/fimmu.2019.00805
- Marchesi, Julian R et al. “The gut microbiota and host health: a new clinical frontier.” Gut vol. 65,2 (2016): 330-9. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2015-309990.
- Lattimer, James M, and Mark D Haub. “Effects of dietary fiber and its components on metabolic health.” Nutrients vol. 2,12 (2010): 1266-89. doi:10.3390/nu2121266
- Satokari, Reetta. “High Intake of Sugar and the Balance between Pro- and Anti-Inflammatory Gut Bacteria.” Nutrients vol. 12,5 1348. 8 May. 2020, doi:10.3390/nu12051348
- “Stress Weakens The Immune System.” American Psychological Association, 2021. https://www.apa.org/research/action/immune.
- Poluektov, M G. “Sleep and Immunity.” Neuroscience and behavioral physiology, 1-7. 23 Jun. 2021, doi:10.1007/s11055-021-01113-2.
- “Matthew Walker Teaches the Science of Better Sleep, Official Trailer, MasterClass.” YouTube, uploaded by MasterClass, 22 Dec. 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=106zCmbMKYY.
- Van Horn, L. “Fiber, lipids, and coronary heart disease. A statement for healthcare professionals from the Nutrition Committee, American Heart Association.” Circulation vol. 95,12 (1997): 2701-4. doi:10.1161/01.cir.95.12.2701.
- “Prebiotics.” International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, 2021. https://isappscience.org/for-scientists/resources/prebiotics/
Food and Soda Pairings: What to Eat With OLIPOP
What makes a good soda and food pairing? Find out as we share how you can reward your taste buds with these OLIPOP and food matches made in heaven.