Gut Bacteria Modulate Your Immune System
Its only been in recent years that scientists have come to recognize the importance of gut bacteria in modulating the immune system. More than 70% of the human immune system resides in the gut.
In addition, the intestinal immune system contains more antibody-producing cells than the rest of the body put together.19 As a result, fluid secreted from the digestive system is as rich as breast milk in health-supporting and disease-preventing factors.20
A poorly functioning immune system is at the root of many conditions that aggressively target aging adults. For example, too little immune response makes us vulnerable to the infections that claim the lives of so many older adults. Yet a poorly balanced immune system can produce chronic inflammationcontributing to a litany of age-related disorders such as diabetes, cancer, and metabolic syndrome.
Probiotics help restore the balance of your gut microbiome, and can strengthen its ability to interact with your immune system in many ways.21 These friendly bacteria stimulate a healthy immune system, boosting populations of cells that seek out and destroy infecting organisms and cancers.22,23
While probiotics promote immune balance and strength, scientists have found that a specific blend of unique probiotics is especially effective at blocking flu, cold, and otherrespiratory viruses.
Probiotics Can Aid Digestion And Help Maintain Gut Health
What are the benefits of taking probiotics? Bacteria have a reputation for causing disease, so the idea of tossing down a few billion a day for your health might seem literally and figuratively hard to swallow. But a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that you can treat and even prevent some illnesses with foods and supplements containing certain kinds of live bacteria. Northern Europeans consume a lot of these beneficial microorganisms, called probiotics , because of their tradition of eating foods fermented with bacteria, such as yogurt. Probiotic-laced beverages are also big business in Japan.
Some digestive disease specialists are recommending probiotic supplements for disorders that frustrate conventional medicine, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Since the mid-1990s, clinical studies suggest that probiotic therapy can help treat several gastrointestinal ills, delay the development of allergies in children, and treat and prevent vaginal and urinary infections in women.
Self-dosing with bacteria isn’t as outlandish as it might seem. An estimated 100 trillion microorganisms representing more than 500 different species inhabit every normal, healthy bowel. These microorganisms generally don’t make us sick most are helpful. Gut-dwelling bacteria keep pathogens in check, aid digestion and nutrient absorption, and contribute to immune function.
Can I Take Or Eat Something To Increase The Good Probiotics In My Body
You can increase the amount of good microbes in your body through foods, drinks and supplements. You may already have certain foods in your daily diet that contain probiotics. Fermented foods in particular are home to a host of good bacteria that benefit your body. There are also fermented drinks like kombucha or kefir that introduce extra probiotics into your diet.
Apart from food, you can add probiotics to your diet through dietary supplements. These arent drugs, so they do not need to be approved by the Federal Drug Administration . Its important that you always talk to your healthcare provider before starting any kind of supplement or major change to your diet.
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So What Can I Do When I Cant Take Live Cultures
This can be a frustrating situation to be in. You want to be your most healthy self possible, but the medication you are taking or treatment you are undergoing is making that impossible. Luckily, there are still great ways to try and maintain your health despite what kind of medication your are currently taking. Of course, it is important to consider your doctor before making any major changes.
Benefits Of Taking Probiotics
Not all probiotics are the same. Different strains of the bacteria have different effects. For example, one strain may fight against cavity-causing organisms in our mouths and don’t need to survive a trip through our guts.
Research has been promising for these friendly critters. Potential benefits of probiotics have been seen in the treatment or prevention of
- H. pylori
- vaginal infections
- infection of the digestive tract caused by
- eczema in children.
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Some Strains Can Increase Histamine Levels
Some bacterial strains used in probiotic supplements can produce histamine inside the digestive tract of humans .
Histamine is a molecule that is normally produced by your immune system when it detects a threat.
When histamine levels rise, blood vessels dilate to bring more blood to the affected area. The vessels also become more permeable so that immune cells can easily get into the relevant tissue to combat any pathogens .
This process creates redness and swelling in the affected area, and can also trigger allergy symptoms such as itching, watery eyes, runny nose or trouble breathing.
Normally, histamine that is produced in your digestive tract is naturally degraded by an enzyme called diamine oxidase . This enzyme inhibits histamine levels from rising enough to cause symptoms .
However, some people with histamine intolerance have trouble properly breaking down the histamine in their bodies, seeing as they do not produce enough DAO .
The excess histamine is then absorbed through the lining of the intestinal tract and into the bloodstream, causing symptoms similar to an allergic reaction (
Theoretically, they may want to select probiotic supplements that do not contain histamine-producing bacteria, but to date, there has been no research on this specific area.
Some histamine-producing probiotic strains include Lactobacillus buchneri, Lactobacillus helveticus, Lactobacillus hilgardii and Streptococcus thermophilus .
Probiotics Can Shorten The Common Cold
Colds can last up to ten days, but probiotics can shorten the time you feel lousy, Reid says. In one study, people who took probiotics cut the time they spent sick by two daysand their symptoms were 34 per cent less severe. Whats more, students missed fewer school days when they took probiotics. The strains in this study were a type of L. rhamnosus and a form of B. animalis.This means that you can go back to work on Friday instead of missing a whole week if you take probiotics to treat or prevent colds, Reid says.
Here are 50 ways to avoid catching a cold.
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Depends On The Reason Youre Taking Probiotics
Initial dose v long term dose
During the first 2-4 weeks of use I would work up to a high dose. Thats because at this point my guts bacteria balance is likely out of whack and in proper need of the good guys.
Anywhere between 75-100 billion a day, with half in morning and half before going to bed, would sit in the sweet spot during this time.
Of course, I would test out a smaller dose in the first few days, just to check my body agrees with the particular probiotic.
Then long term I would be happy with 50 billion CFUs a day, which Ill explain below
I also go with a higher and more frequent dose of probiotics during times when my good bacteria is being wiped out.
eg if I am using antibiotics, NSAIDs, steroids , acid blockers, enjoying some good ol food poisoning / diarrhea etc. then a higher dose of probiotics can be necessary to replenish the good bacteria thats being lost.
As an example when taking antibiotics Ill typically take 100 billion CFUs of probiotics a day. Antibiotic therapy often leads to gut dysbiosis in which bacteria in the gut are disrupted30, so its a pretty good idea to use probiotics alongside of them.
Obviously, Id check with my doctor to ensure probiotics are compatible with my specific treatment. But, once again, this sort of escalation of dose is only temporary and can typically be reduced shortly after antibiotic therapy is completed.
Extra support dose
Then He Said In My 25 Years In Nutrition Ive Never Heard Of Side Effects With Probiotics
Ronda told him, Well, it sure happened to me!
Rondas been doing great ever since the whole incident and is elated to be herself again. But she learned a hard lesson. Harmless probiotics deserve respect for their power and impact on the human system.
From now on, shell ALWAYS follow directions when it comes to over-the-counter remedies. And especially probiotics!
The good news is that if probiotics can cause this much change in someone whos healthy, they can also make a significant difference in anyone whos not.
Along with improving health in your stomach and intestines, as well as reducing inflammation and infection throughout your body, they can also relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
But be aware, theyre not to be taken lightly. Experts say that since each individual is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all for probiotic supplementation.
Remember: In general terms, up to 10 billion CFUs daily. Start gently. Watch for out-of-the-ordinary symptoms. A specific strain may not be right for you, or a specific combination. Take several days or a couple weeks to test the effects of partial doses, raising the dose a little each day as long as you have no negative symptoms. Include your doctor in the process.
This story isnt to scare you away from using a preparation that can help you become stronger and more resilient. But rather to alert you to possible risks if you use probiotics without supervision or awareness of potential side effects.
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Possible Side Effects Of Probiotics
Probiotics are living bacteria and yeasts that provide health benefits when consumed in large amounts.
They can be taken as supplements or consumed naturally through fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha .
The health benefits of probiotic supplements and foods have been well documented, including a lower risk of infections, improved digestion and even a reduced risk for some chronic diseases .
While there are many health benefits linked to taking probiotics, there can also be side effects. Most of these are minor and only affect a small percentage of the population.
However, some people with serious illnesses or compromised immune systems may experience more severe complications.
This article reviews the most common side effects of probiotics and how to reduce them.
A Healthy Gut Supports Your Bodys Immune System
80% of your immune system resides in your gut. Therefore, its no surprise that the bacteria in your gut heavily influence your immune system.
Luckily, we are starting to understand more and more how we can positively influence the environment in the gut, and with that our overall health and wellbeing, by supplementing with probiotics. Probiotics ensure that good bacteria are replenished in the gut in order to maintain a healthy intestinal system and overall organism.
Studies show that certain probiotic bacteria are especially effective when it comes to boosting your bodys immune system. OMNi-BiOTiC® BALANCE contains specially selected and combined bacterial strains that strengthen the gut barrier which we know helps protect against harmful bacteria and viruses from spreading in the body and helps balance the immune system in two critical ways.
First, OMNi-BiOTiC® BALANCE contains probiotic strains that are known to increase IL-10 production in the body, thus helping your body manage inflammation. IL-10 is a messenger substance of the immune system that protects against exaggerated inflammatory processes and autoimmune diseases.
Second, OMNi-BiOTiC®BALANCE can help strengthen mucosal membranes to help protect against respiratory infections.
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Why Probiotic Foods Are Not Always Ideal
Which Probiotics Are Best For Immunity
Here are the strain-specific probiotics that may work for boosting your immune system:
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
Getting all your fiber from a single source is not the best way to boost your gut health and immunity.
Your goal should be to eat a variety of fiber-rich foods each day.
Another way to promote a healthy gut and immune system is to eat foods that already contain beneficial bacteria .
- Yogurt, kefir, and other cultured dairy products .
- Kim-chi, sauerkraut, and other fermented vegetables.
- Miso, tempeh, natto, and other fermented soy products.
- Kombucha .
All of these products are available on grocery store shelves or you can make them yourself, which is actually quite fun. My personal DIY foods: kombucha, preserved lemons, fermented pepper paste, and pickles.
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Related: The Best Probiotics For Dogs In 2022
As you explore probiotics, check out our always up-to-date list of the best probiotics for dogs. With so many brands on the market, we did our research to make picking the right one for your dog easy!
- Constant scratching and biting at hot spots
- Sores, scabs and eczema-like skin irritation
- Widespread hair loss
- Chronic ear infections
- Gastrointestinal problems
Depending on what type of allergy is causing skin irritation, veterinarians usually prescribe antihistamines, hydrocortisone, cortisone or a combination of medications. Unfortunately, these drugs only treat the symptoms and not the source of the allergya poorly functioning immune system and GI tract. To avoid medicating their dogs with drugs that often cause unhealthy side effects, pet owners are now relying on supplementation with beneficial bacteria instead, a natural, healthier method of treating the root cause of painful, itchy skin inflammation.
Supporting The Bodys Secretory Immune System
Colds and flu are often treated with medications designed to reduce only the symptoms of these respiratory infections. These drugs cant activate the bodys own immune response to fend off invading bacteria or viruses.
Thats what makes probiotics different. Probiotics provide defense against the common cold and flu by activating the bodys own immune response.
The immune system makes proteins called antibodies that fight bacteria, viruses, and toxins. One of the most common antibodies, called secretory IgA , is found in mucous membranes. IgA acts as the bodys built-in security system within mucous membranes that line the nose and upper respiratory tract.24-26 When IgA levels are adequate, these antibodies can prevent cold and flu viruses from entering the body through the nasal mucous and respiratory tract.27
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Stomach Flu Preventative Measures
Besides taking a daily probiotic, there are a few other ways to help prevent the stomach flu. These include:
- Avoiding people who have been sick
- Washing your hands regularly
- Using hand sanitizer when washing your hands isnt possible
- Ensuring your food is always cooked properly
- Avoiding placing your hands in or around your mouth
- Disinfecting hard surfaces when someone has been ill
- Washing all bedding after someone has been ill
- Regularly taking a probiotic supplement to support gut and immune health
If you follow these preventative measures, it can decrease your risk of getting the stomach flu. Additionally, youll want to remain in good health. Besides taking your probiotics, you should eat a balanced diet, stay hydrated, and get enough exercise.
Symptoms Of Viral Gastroenteritis And Food Poisoning
All stomach-related illnesses primarily present with vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. However, the severity of these symptoms and length of illness will vary greatly depending on the exact cause.
Viral gastroenteritis can also cause:
- Bloody stool or vomit
- Loss of consciousness
In some cases of food poisoning , a person can fall into shock. This is a life-threatening condition that includes a loss of consciousness, decreased heart rate, enlarged pupils, rapid breathing, and blue-tinted skin.
If you or someone else shows symptoms of shock, loss of consciousness, or bloody stool and vomit, you should call 9-1-1 right away.
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Issues To Be Aware Of
If you’re considering trying probiotics, there are a few issues you need to be aware of.
Probiotics are generally classed as food rather than medicine, which means they don’t go through the rigorous testing medicines do.
Because of the way probiotics are regulated, we can’t always be sure that:
- the product actually contains the bacteria stated on the food label
- the product contains enough bacteria to have an effect
- the bacteria are able to survive long enough to reach your gut
There are many different types of probiotics that may have different effects on the body, and little is known about which types are best.
You may find a particular type of probiotic helps with one problem. But this doesn’t mean it’ll help other problems, or that other types of probiotic will work just as well.
And there’s likely to be a huge difference between the pharmaceutical-grade probiotics that show promise in clinical trials and the yoghurts and supplements sold in shops.
Page last reviewed: 27 November 2018 Next review due: 27 November 2021