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Break your gut-harmful habits to protect your cold-fighting immunity

Your body is going to take a beating over the coming winter months, and your immune system gets the tough job of trying to keep you safe. Four-fifths of your immune system is located in your gut microbiome, where trillions of fragile living bacteria are fighting every day to keep you healthy, and defend you against the cold and flu pathogens that can make you ill. 

You may not realise it – but some of your everyday habits may be harming your faithful gut bugs, impairing their ability to protect you. You can boost your natural immunity by cutting back on the following “Gut-Harmful” habits that impair your microbiome diversity, killing off beneficial gut bugs and leaving you more vulnerable to colds and flu: 

  • Sugar. Avoid sugar whenever possible. Sugar can keep beneficial microbes from colonizing your gut, by halting the production of certain proteins that foster their growth.1
  • Artificial sweeteners. Sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin have been shown to disrupt the balance and diversity of gut microbiota.2 Try 100% pure stevia, yacon syrup or medjool dates. 
  • Processed food. Food additives, such as emulsifiers, which are ubiquitous in processed foods, have also been shown to affect the gut microbiota in animals.3 Home-cooked is best!
  • The low FODMAP diet. Although it may relieve IBS symptoms in the short term, adhering to a low FODMAP diet over time has been shown to lead to profound changes in the microbiota and metabolome.4 The idea here is to restore gut health so that you can enjoy a wide diversity of foods, which feed a wide diversity of gut bugs.
  • Medications including laxatives, progesterone, PPIs, and antibiotics.5 Look for natural alternatives to health issues like medicinal herbs, which do not harm the microbiome.

How can you repair the damage that may have already been done? Drink probiotic goats milk kefir, and take a Complete Prebiotic. If you imagine that your gut is a river, populated with delicate wildlife that may have been killed off by your ingestion of sugar and chemicals, then traditionally-made, unflavoured goats milk kefir made with real kefir “grains” is the most powerful and effective way to put the fish back into the river. The live cultures in kefir have been shown to survive the digestive tract to repopulate your microbiome.6

But then those living organisms need to be fed, in order to survive! Recent research shows that different beneficial strains of bacteria eat different types of fibre – up to 18 different types of fibre, many found in exotic foods like arrowroot and tamarind seed, that you may not be consuming in your daily diet. Our Complete Prebiotic handily combines all the powders your gut bugs need to thrive. 


  1. Nova - "Sugar Can Keep Good Microbes From Colonizing Your Gut". Written by Katherine J. Wu on December 17, 2018
    link to article
  2. NCBI - "Reshaping the gut microbiota: Impact of low calorie sweeteners and the link to insulin resistance?". Written by Nettleton JE, Reimer RA, Shearer J on October 1, 2016
    link to article
  3. Nature - "Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome". Written by Letter | Published: 25 February 2015 Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome Benoit Chassaing, Omry Koren, Julia K. Goodrich, Angela C. Poole, Shanthi Srinivasan, Ruth E. Ley & Andrew T. Gewirtz on March 5, 2015
    link to article
  4. BMJ - "The low FODMAP diet: recent advances in understanding its mechanisms and efficacy in IBS". Written by Heidi M Staudacher, Kevin Whelan on June 7, 2017
    link to article
  5. BMJ - "Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health". Written by Ana M Valdes, associate professor, Jens Walter, CAIP chair for nutrition, microbes, and gastrointestinal health, Eran Segal, professor, Tim D Spector, professor on June 13, 2018
    link to article
  6. BBC - "Which foods can improve your gut bacteria?". Written by Trust Me I'm A Doctor on January 30, 2017
    link to article

6 thoughts on “Break your gut-harmful habits to protect your cold-fighting immunity

  1. Hi Shann,
    I have taken Kefir milk for over 2 years now, and recommend it to several. Of my friends.
    It has made my gut much healthier nails stronger and hair and skin much stronger!
    In fact stopped my hair from falling out.
    I always strain my Kerfi as do not like the bits that come after a couple of weeks,is this ok and not loosening any of the nutrients? Would like to know. Many thanks.
    Keep those goats busy .

  2. Thank you for another really helpful and informative blog. I forward them onto my professional colleagues too! Once quick question however, is what is the FODMAP diet referred to? in the article?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Sally-Ann,

      Thanks for the kind words – keep spreading the word 😉

      Without adding in probiotic-rich fermented food, like kefir, the inner ecosystem may not have an opportunity to rebuild. The same researchers that developed the FODMAP diet emphasise the need to eventually remove restrictions on the diet. This means reintroducing high FODMAP foods. They also emphasise the need to focus on the inner ecosystem of the gut.
      When it comes to diet, avoiding a trigger food only removes the problem. It doesn’t heal the root of the disorder. While the payoff of the FODMAP diet is reduced gas, bloating, and cramping – the cost is that you forevermore avoid a long list of otherwise beneficial foods (like cabbage, garlic, and raw dairy).

      Best wishes,

  3. I take Inulin powder with milk at night and four tablespoons of goats kefir during the day and my bowels are back to normal.

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