The gut and the immune system are intricately linked. The immune system is made of a network of cells, tissues and organs that protect the body against infection and disease. Overall, the immune system does an incredible job of defending against all the pathogens it encounters. However, sometimes it fails and, for some horses, it fails often making “boosting” the immune system a common objective.
Though most people find it surprising, the best way to naturally boost the immune system is by promoting good gut health. The gut is the body’s first line of defense against pathogens from the outside world. The gut is home to thousands of species of microbes, or microscopic “bugs”, that protect against invaders in several ways. The gut microbes are responsible for alerting the immune system when pathogens are detected and for preventing these pathogens from persisting.
In addition, the gut houses a type of lymphatic tissue called gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) that comprises over 70% of the body’s entire immune system. This lymphoid tissue stores and secretes immune cells, such as B and T lymphocytes, that help fight off disease and infection. The combination of the lymphoid tissue and microbes found in the gut make good gut health essential for good immunity. Good gut health can be achieved by feeding your horse an adequate diet that is low in starch and high in fiber and supplementing with a product like Amaferm® to help maintain a healthy equilibrium between good microbes and bad microbes (pathogens) and boost the immune competence of the gut.