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SIgA : What it is + Why We Need It

Gut Health

SIgA : What it is + Why We Need It

If you’ve ever had a stool test, you might’ve seen a marker called SIgA! I wanted to dive into this, as this is an important part of our gut health + we can see what is it, what it does, and how we can support it. And as always, if you’re curious about your gut health + want to see what’s going on in the FOUNDATION of our body, learn more about what we do + get your hands on a comprehensive stool test asap!

What Is SIgA + Why We Need It

SIgA stands for secretory IgA (an immunoglobulin in the immune system) and it’s part of the immune system that lines within our GI tract. It helps keep pathogenic bacteria, viruses, parasites, yeast at bay to avoid infections. Healthy levels of SIgA also support your good bacteria inside your GI tract.

SIgA promotes the clearance of antigens and pathogenic microorganisms from the intestinal lumen by blocking their access to epithelial receptors, entrapping them in mucus, and facilitating their removal by peristaltic and mucociliary activities.

Mucosal Immunology

In simple terms, SIgA is super protective of keeping things balanced + in check inside our gut. When things aren’t in check (bacteria overgrowth, parasites, yeast, etc), this can either increase SIgA or lower it. When there is an increase of SIgA, we can obviously see that our body is reacting to the imbalance + figuring out what it is exactly + supporting your body in getting BACK into balance is important. Give your body a pat on the back too because it’s doing what it needs to do to get rid of infections + imbalances. It may just need extra support with food, herbs, lifestyle to get to where it needs to be.

Now, why would an imbalance LOWER SIgA? Well, certain overgrowths are pesky….and SMART. Overgrowths and infections can down-regulate the immune system and lower SIgA because they want to survive as much as we do! It all comes back to – is our body nourished enough and working optimally to get rid of it? We have to get back to the basics + look at….

  • Diet {We eat to give our body the nutrients it needs to work optimally. If you aren’t giving the building blocks (aka the gas) to our body {aka the car}, we won’t run efficiently}
  • Environmental Toxins {Chronic exposure to toxins in our environment is an additional stressor}
  • Stress {This is SOOO vital with making healthy SIgA levels. Stress is one of the number one factors that lowers SIgA and starts downregulating your immune system}
  • Sleep {Lack of sleep = increased stress}
  • Lifestyle + Exercise

While you may be tired of hearing about those things. it’s SO true. These are the foundational roots to get your body back in balance + functioning optimally, so if you come across a pathogenic bacteria, you’re able to fight it + support your immune system.

Another thing that SIgA levels can influence is food allergies + food sensitivities. When SIgA is at healthy levels, we protect against those food-derived antigens. When levels are low, it’s been studied that we aren’t able to tag foods as “safe” and we can develop allergies + sensitivities.

On the other hand, secretory antibodies, particularly secretory IgA (SIgA), have important roles in reinforcing the epithelial barrier. Mice deficient in SIgA and secretory IgM are prone to develop food allergen–induced anaphylactic shock, which can be overcome by induction of tolerance with T-regulatory cells.

Gastroenterology

How To Support Your SIgA?

If you don’t know what your levels are, make sure you test before you guess! Some of the supplements are on the pricier side + honestly unnecessary unless you’re sure about your levels. Stool is the best way to test for it! If you’re curious about how to get the proper stool test, book a free call with us over at Work With Us page + we can get things started for you!

Before I get to some of my favorite SIgA supporting supplements, I have to emphasize that you MUST MUST MUST get your foundational items figured out + personalized to you: DIET, STRESS, LIFESTYLE, SLEEP, ENVIRONMENT. This is the part that we help you figure it all out customized to YOU.

But here are some of my favorite supplements that can help increase SIgA:

Probiotics – Making sure that you support your GI tract with the good bugs is so vital. This helps aid in that GI balance we’re aiming for. A study did show a lactobacillus species of probiotics helps infants make SIgA. In a study with rats, the salivary SIgA increased by probiotics as well.

S. Boulardii – This is a strain of yeast that has been shown in studies to be helpful in raising SIgA levels. (Study in birds)

SBI Protect – This product is pure IgG (another immunoglobulin) that benefits the GI tract by binding various microbes and toxins that are inside the intestinal lumen (which SIgA is located). When I was in school, I learned that any type of colostrum or immunoglobulins can help with low SIgA levels!

Marshmallow Root – Marshmallow root is an herb that has mucilage properties. Mucilage herbs are very soothing to an inflamed or irritated GI and can also provide some nourishment for the bacterial colonies. While you’re trying to increase SIgA levels in the gut, this can be a great tea to drink. I buy mine from Mountain Rose Herbs.

L-Glutamine – This amino acid is needed for an overall healthy, strong GI tract. Glutamine is fuel for the enterocytes (cells in the intestines). In mouse studies, it does show that is helps with SIgA levels increasing, BUT the mechanism isn’t exactly known how. An infant study also showed that infants that had glutamine supplementation also had increased SIgA levels.

Lahana Vigliano
lahana@thrivalnutrition.com

Lahana Vigliano is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and CEO of Thrival Nutrition. She has her Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition Science and currently pursing her Masters Degree in Nutrition Science and Functional Medicine. Lahana and her team help support women who struggle with weight loss, hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, chronic fatigue, and many other lingering issues that leaves women not feeling their best. She uses food as medicine, as well as herbs and supplements when needed, to support her clients. She looks at the whole body holistically making sure women are understanding how nutrition, sleep, stress, and their environment impact their health. Connect with her on Facebook + Instagram (@thrivalnutrition).