Immune cells in our gut appear to help protect the brain from infection. A fascinating study in mice suggests that immune cells in the gut are trained to recognize and respond to pathogens and then move to the brain’s surface to protect it.
The lining of the gut is rich in immunoglobulin A (IgA), antibodies that act as the first line of defense in responding to pathogens. Researchers found IgA-producing plasma cells in the meninges, a protective membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord, that originated in the intestine. To test their hypothesis, the study authors implanted Candida albicans, a pathogenic fungus, into the mice’s bloodstream and observed that IgA antibodies appeared in the meninges to attack the pathogen and protect the brain.
While researchers continue to unravel this data, you can support your immune system and healthy levels of secretory IgA by:
- Consuming prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods such as fermented foods, leeks, garlic, onions, and Jerusalem artichokes; dietary sources of vitamin A including liver, sweet potato, carrot, winter squashes, and dark leafy greens; and mushrooms, such as white button and Reishi ,which are rich in IgA-boosting beta-glucans.
- Reducing stress and finding ways to boost positive emotions, such as tapping, exercising, watching a funny movie, or visiting with friends.