How your gut affects how well vaccines work

There’s probably been no time in recent history that more people have been focused on the subject of vaccines.

After all, we’ve lived through a pandemic for over a year. But, of course, vaccines are nothing new… the seasonal flu vaccines and pneumonia vaccines have been around for a while.

Yet, according to a new study, there’s far more to vaccine effectiveness than simply what the Pharma companies have put in them.

And it all starts in your gut — the training ground for your immune health.

Gut microbiota and degrees of immune response

It’s no secret that the immune response people experience after a vaccine can vary. That’s why you’ll hear the news channels calling out numbers in ways such as, “up to 90 percent effective.”

This means that, for one person, the jab could confer 70 percent protection, while someone else grabs closer to 100 percent. And of course, you could fall anywhere in between.

That’s why scientists have been searching for a magic bullet to not only explain the variance but boost that vaccine effectiveness across the board.

And now, according to researchers at Flinders University, they may have finally found it.

Their research, published in Nature Reviews Immunology, has found that after numerous clinical trials and other studies, the secret to our immune response to vaccinations lies in the gut.

But that comes as no surprise to me…

You know by now that your gut microbiota is the collection of bacteria — both good and bad — that inhabit your digestive system. These microorganisms all have specialized roles in your health, from helping you digest your food to keeping your blood sugar in the healthy range.

And they play a huge role in prompting our immune system to do its job…

Supporting immune cells

According to the researchers’ work, the composition and function of the microbes in your gut are “crucial factors” in affecting immune responses to vaccinations.

Here’s how it works…

The protective effect of vaccines is induced by your immune B cells and T cells.

While B cells produce antigen-specific antibodies, T cells also help mediate the protection induced by some vaccines.

But both of these types of immune cells are modulated (regulated) by the bacteria in your gut. If your gut is lacking a healthy balance of gut microbes it won’t launch the proper immune response to the vaccine.

In other words, if your gut isn’t up to par, neither will be the level of vaccine protection you end up with. Don’t get me wrong… you may get some, but most likely not near the level possible.

According to the researchers, interventions like probiotics are one of the first areas they plan to explore next.

Yet, considering the mountain of evidence already showing that the right bacteria are exactly what’s needed to keep the gut microbiome in optimal shape, one has to wonder why anyone would wait…

It’s not new news that probiotics — found in foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, or in supplement form — influence the makeup of your microbiome.

It’s also not new news that probiotic bacteria and prebiotic fiber — from foods like beans, lentils, split peas and raspberries — work hand-in-hand to optimize your gut and all it does.

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Immunity boost in the gut – EurekAlert!

Chart of high-fiber foods – Mayo Clinic

Prebiotics, probiotics and your health – Mayo Clinic

Health benefits of taking probiotics – Harvard Health Publishing

Probiotics and prebiotics in intestinal health and disease: from biology to the clinic – NIH

The dynamics of the human infant gut microbiome in development and in progression toward type 1 diabetes – NIH

Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits – NCBI

Diet-induced extinctions in the gut microbiota compound over generations – NIH

Gut microbiota, metabolites and host immunity – NIH

Dysbiosis and the immune system – NIH

Virginia Tims-Lawson

By Virginia Tims-Lawson

Virginia Tims-Lawson has dedicated her life to researching and studying natural health after her mother had a stroke that left her blind in one eye at the age of 47, and her grandmother and two great uncles died from heart attacks. Spurred by her family history, Virginia’s passion to improve her and her family’s health through alternative practices, nutrients and supplements has become a mission she shares through her writing. She is founder of the nutritional supplement company Peak Pure & Natural®.