Traditional societies have long advocated for a central role of the GI tract in overall health including our immune defense. Given that our GI tract encounters the highest concentration of immune changes daily in terms of toxins, microbes, and random chemicals, it makes sense. The GI tract must distinguish between needed nutrients and dangerous invaders moment by moment. A breech in the barrier can lead to catastrophic consequences.
Understanding how the GI tract carries out these defensive functions continues to develop. Recent research unveils that a hormone called Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide, VIP, plays a key role in jumpstarting the immune response after eating. This hormone rises after eating and triggers immune cells called ILC3 cells to produce an immune messenger called IL-22, or interleukin 22. This messenger upregulates the system’s ability to defend against dangerous invaders.
Not only did the researchers learn that food triggered this rise in VIP, they also found that VIP rose in anticipation of mealtimes. It seems circadian clock rhythms participated in this immune boosting cycle.
As we work in functional medicine towards patient’s enjoying healthier more abundant lives, we encourage them to follow regular patterns of life. Our bodies don’t like changing sleep/wake cycles and apparently our GI tract’s immune system works better if we keep regular meal times. Preparing for 2020 and beyond requires balance in all the aspects of our daily life.
Cyril Seillet, Kylie Luong, Julie Tellier, Nicolas Jacquelot, Rui Dong Shen, Peter Hickey, Verena C. Wimmer, Lachlan Whitehead, Kelly Rogers, Gordon K. Smyth, Alexandra L. Garnham, Matthew E. Ritchie, Gabrielle T. Belz. The neuropeptide VIP confers anticipatory mucosal immunity by regulating ILC3 activity. Nature Immunology, 2019; 21 (2): 168 DOI: 10.1038/s41590-019-0567-y
Thanks to Science Daily
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. “Gut reaction: How immunity ramps up against incoming threats.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 January 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200129174520.htm>.