The Role of Fiber & Prebiotic Soda in Supporting Immune & Gut Health
Microbiomes are communities of microorganisms—bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc. that live in the human gut. These microbial communities play important roles in everything from human growth and development to immune function. The immune system plays such an important role in health and many don't know that 70–80% of your immune cells are present in the gut.1
That means if you want to help support a healthy immune system, you need to feed the healthy bacteria in your gut the food they love best: fiber! Eating a wide variety of fiber will ensure that you’re giving those little buggers what they need to thrive. You can find fiber in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. And yes, it’s also in your new fave soda, OLIPOP!2
But what exactly is the immune system and how does fiber support it? Let's dive in to find out...
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.3
How Does the Immune System 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 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 appear. 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.4
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 help the B and T cells by pointing out the problem and fortifying the protective lining in your gut.
Immune System and Gut Health
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.5
The gastrointestinal tract consists of organs whose primary function is digestion, absorption, and 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.6
How to Support Your Immune System
A properly functioning gut microbiome is essential for health, so how can we best support it? We've been ignoring our invisible gut microbes for far too long, but now these VIPs are getting the recognition they deserve.
Eat More Fiber
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 these gut microbes have different preferences. And when you eat a colorful array of produce you also benefit from a buffet of healthy nutrients and powerful plant chemicals.
Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate and has two categories, soluble and insoluble.
- Soluble fibers dissolve in water to form a gel. These fibers travel all the way to the large intestine where microbes ferment them to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). SCFA are a main source of energy for other microbes and your body.7 Soluble fiber is a prebiotic, a substance that feeds the good bacteria in your gut. You can find them 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.”8
Get More Sleep
When you don't get enough sleep, the immune system doesn’t function at optimal levels and that leaves you susceptible to infection. And 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.11 12
Incorporate Prebiotics (like OLIPOP!)
You may be wondering how OLIPOP can pack 9g 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 them with natural flavors to create the most epic-tasting beverage on the market. Throw a party for your microbes with every sip!2
What Are Good Sources of Fiber?
Okay, 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? To make it easy for us to remember, fiber makes up every part of whole foods, so eating more of these whole foods will help you get more fiber:
- Whole grains
The American Heart Association recommends eating 25-28g of fiber a day.13 That’s a tall order if the majority of our intake is from processed foods. There’s absolutely no substitute for eating whole foods. But OLIPOP makes it easy to hit your fiber goal by adding a whopping 9g 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 blog on adding fiber to your everyday routine.
- Cohen, S. (2021, March 19). If you want to boost immunity, look to the gut. UCLA Health. https://www.uclahealth.org/news/want-to-boost-immunity-look-to-the-gut
- “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
- “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.
- Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against foreign invaders, and it works closely with your microbiome to promote health.
- 70% of your immune system is located in your gut. That means if you want to boost your immune system, you need to take care of your gut.
- One of the best ways to do that is to feed the healthy bacteria in your gut the food they love best: fiber!
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