Can IBS weaken your immune system?

Qualified Nutritionist (BSc, MSc, RNutr)
Ask Emma

10 September 2019

Can IBS make you more susceptible to colds and flu?

First of all, if you suffer from IBS or just poor digestion generally, you may be at risk of becoming deficient in nutrients which are vital for your immune system to function properly. For instance, your body may struggle to absorb adequate levels of vitamins and minerals if regular diarrhoea is one of your symptoms.

Vitamin C is possibly the most well-known vitamin when it comes to your immune system, and for good reason. Phagocytes and T-cells (immune cells which play a role in destroying invading viruses and bacteria) require vitamin C in order to function efficiently. Plus, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and plays a protective role within the respiratory system.

Zinc and vitamin D are other nutrients whose role in keeping the immune system in tip top condition is perhaps less well known. So, if your digestion is poor and your body struggles to absorb these nutrients from food, you may be more at risk of weak immune function and, in turn, be more prone to colds and flu.

What can I do to help?

  • Silicol gel can be taken to soothe the gut lining and reduce irritation which can help to ease diarrhoea.
  • In the meantime, you might want to try Nature C to boost your levels of vitamin C and support your immune system.

My Top Tip:

Balance Mineral Drink contains vitamin D, zinc and a range of electrolytes which can help to replenish your body after a bout of diarrhoea.

“Good taste to manage mineral balance.”


Read what other people are saying about Balance Mineral Drink.

Does stress affect your immune system?

Stress and IBS are intricately linked. While stress can be a cause of IBS symptoms and nasty flare-ups, worries about staying close to a loo or experiencing embarrassing symptoms in public can cause a great deal of stress too.

At the same time, stress can have a negative effect on your immune system. In periods of stress, our fight-or-flight response is activated, sending stress hormones all around the body. As a result, immune function takes a back seat.

What's more, new research has found that, when stressed, there are fewer white blood cells circulating the body.1 These white blood cells (monocytes and lymphocytes) play a key role in destroying pathogens which could allow infections like colds and flu to take hold.

So, a combination of stress and IBS can also leave you more at risk of suffering from colds or flu since your immune system may not be working at full capacity.

What can I do to help?

  • Stress Relief Daytime is a natural remedy made from valerian and hops which can help to relieve mild anxiety and stress.

Can probiotics help to boost my immune system?

Friendly bacteria within the gut are important for maintaining pH balance, digesting food and keeping pathogens at bay. If there is an imbalance in levels of good and bad gut bacteria, nasty symptoms such as constipation and bloating can arise, symptoms you may be familiar with if you have IBS.

What's more, did you know that 70-80% of immune cells are found in the gut? If your gut is unhappy (which is likely, if you suffer from IBS!) then your immune function may be lacking.

So, giving your friendly bacteria a helping hand can improve your digestion and, in turn, help you to absorb the vital nutrients for your immune function. Plus, upping your numbers of friendly bacteria can help to protect against other, more harmful bacteria that could cause trouble and promote an inflammatory gut condition.

What can I do to help?

  • You can try Optibac's range of good-quality probiotics to increase the number of friendly bacteria in your gut. 
  • You should also consider taking a prebiotic to create the right conditions in which these friendly bacteria can do their job.

My Top Tip:

Molkosan is a prebiotic containing L+ lactic acid which helps to maintain a healthy gut environment in which friendly bacteria can thrive. This can be taken alongside probiotics.

" Works a treat, tastes lovely. Fantastic quality, perfection."


Read what other people are saying about Molkosan.

Could IBS also make my immune system over-react?

So, while IBS and associated symptoms can cause your immune system to weaken, troubled digestion can contribute to an overactive immune system.

Inflammation, such as that present in the gut with IBS, can influence the immune system and cause the it to over-react. Poor digestion can also cause harmless foods to trigger an immune response, with the subsequent production of histamine causing symptoms reminiscent of hayfever or allergic rhinitis, like wheezing, watery eyes and a runny nose.

Some of your IBS symptoms may also be made worse by this excess histamine circulating in the body, as a build-up can cause diarrhoea, stomach pain and nausea.

Ironically, if this happens repeatedly and the immune system is activated time and time again, it can become unresponsive. In this case, infections can take hold more easily and you may become even more prone to infections like colds and flu.

What can I do to help?

  • Probiotics can also help here in order to help improve digestive function. Molkosan paired with specific strains of friendly bacteria (like the ones found in Optibac Everyday) can help to tackle inflammation.
  • Bitter herbs such as those found in Yarrow Complex can strengthen the correct digestive responses and calm inappropriate inflammation.



Silicol®gel – For IBS


£ 8.29

find your local stockist

Silicol gel - Colloidal silicic acid gel treatment for IBS and indigestion. 200ml and 500ml …
More info

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Wondering if you have IBS?

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Here’s what I recommend

As the A.Vogel Digestion advisor, I recommend Silicol® Gel and Molkosan® Original, to help with your IBS symptoms.

Learn more

Did you know?

How you eat rather than what you eat can also trigger your IBS. From not chewing your food enough to even how you sit while you eat can all impact affect your IBS!

7 simple eating habits to help ease IBS

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