Our antibodies are built and strengthened and their responsive abilities determined by our gut microbiomes long before we are attacked by an infection. If we don’t have a strong, diverse microbiome, we don’t have a strong immune system.
Researchers at the Department for BioMedical Research (DBMR) of the University of Bern, and from Inselspital, University Hospital Bern, have shown how the beneficial microbes that we pick up from birth ‘reprogram’ our B cells, the white immune cells that produce antibodies and how this helps counter infections.
How your immune system works
First you have an ‘Innate System’ which is there from birth. This can deal with simple attacks on the body, but anything complex is passed on, for example by Dendritic cells to … the ‘Adaptive System’. This involves T cells and B cells and antibodies that adapt to the infection, develop and tackle it. Text books have taught this two stage theory for years.
Your B cells are immune cells that have receptors (B Cell Receptors, BCRs) on them which, depending on their own code, can bind to a specific gene sequences of an infection and thus develop antibodies specific to that infection.
As there are endless possible infections, we need a huge number of differently coded B cells to best protect us. And so we have millions of B cells with different receptors in our bodies.
Gut microbes programme your antibodies.
We have known for a few years that intestinal microbes trigger the expansion of B cell populations and thus antibody production. However, is this a random process, or do the molecules of the intestinal microbes themselves influence the outcome?
The researchers – Dr. Hai Li, Dr. Julien Limenitakis, Prof. Stephanie Ganal-Vonarburg and Prof. Andrew Macpherson – showed for the first time that “the composition of our intestinal microbiota, especially during the first waves of colonisations during early life, have a significant outcome on the resulting B cell receptor repertoire and subsequent immunity to pathogens.”
The research went further – it looked at what happened with the beneficial bacteria that remained in the gut, and what happened with the beneficial bacteria that moved into the central body tissues.
Two step process boosts immune system
The researchers used specifically designed computer programmes to assess the genetic make-up of the antibodies in the gut to those in the body tissues beyond the gut.
The antibodies of the gut lining are Immunoglobulin A (IgA). In the blood stream the antibodies are IgM and IgG.
The researchers found that the intestinal beneficial microbiota do not make an especially wide range of antibodies. However, if a second invader comes along, the intestinal antibodies adapt and change to fit it.
The researchers also found that the intestinal antibodies can message the central immune system to deal with the invader if it gets into the blood system.
If an invader gets into the central tissues, the body can make a second set of antibodies for that specific invader, without altering the first set of antibodies.
Immune memory prompted by beneficial microbes
Different B cell immune strategies thus operate in different compartments of the body, but ultimately the are all prompted and strengthened by the beneficial microbes in your gut, beneficial microbes you gained in the first years of your life
Not only does the intestinal microbiome generate an immune memory in your gut, but it prompts an immune response in blood stream. Furthermore, the central tissue system also has the ability to remember the beneficial microbes.
Diversity in the microbiome strengthens our immune response
Put simply, you need to avoid antibiotics, drugs, alcohol, smoking, stress and parasites, and instead top up your good bacteria by eating foods containing Lactic Acid Bacteria,
… and eating foods such as soluble fibre, ellagitannin, pectins, inulin, olive oil, fish oils and more, that feed them and increase their numbers.
… in that way the adaptive system is stronger, and does not need cytokines to boost it in times of trouble.
Chris Woollams, former Oxford University Biochemist and author of “Heal your Gut; Heal your Body” said, ” We have known about this system for a decade, but the Bern researchers have proven it beyond argument.
We are not a body of 7 trillion cells but a body of 100 trillion. We live with the beneficial bacteria, they prompt our immune response, build our immune memory and make compounds from B vitamins to short chain esters that reduce our cholesterol. The Human Microbiome Project told us that our gut gets ill first then we get ill. It also told us that we couldn’t get better until our microbiome got better.
But we damage our microbiome in so many ways – Caesareans, lack of breast feeding, drugs, antibiotics, Proton pump inhibitors, vaccines, poor diet, parasites, stress, smoking and alcohol for starters. Poor microbiomes and low vitamin D are bad news if you develop a Covid-19 infection.
In people with metabolic syndrome, their poor B cell and antibody levels could not cope, so the immune response produced cytokines to boost the antibodies. When that didn’t work, more cytokines were produced and this ‘cytokine storm’ eventually killed the patient.
Add to this the importance of vitamin D with the immune system. Former CDC Dr. Tom Frieden stated clearly that Vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of respiratory infection, regulates cytokine production and can limit the risk of other viruses such as influenza, and you start to understand what has been behind the majority of Covid-19 deaths and how it was already reasonably well known!
Incredibly, in the top six articles on Google describing the immune system, not one mentions the microbiome.”