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Do Probiotics Help Your Immune System

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What Is Fermentation And Good Bacteria

Probiotics and Vitamins

The fermentation process beings when different bacteria or yeast convert carbohydrates into lactic acid .The whole process involves the metabolic breakdown of carbohydrates without oxygen, producing ethanol, acids, and gases that become part of an enzymatic chain.

These microorganisms, with the enzymes that they contain, participate in producing lactic acid, which is essential in the fermentation process. All this creates the beneficial bacteria we know as âgood bacteria,â enzymes, vitamins, and probiotics, all of which are living bacteria that improve the intestinal microflora. Still not sure why you need probiotics for good immunity? Read on!

Which Probiotics Are The Best For Immune System

Heres what else you need to know when it comes to probiotics and your immune system. There are several benefits of probiotics on our defense system some of which includes blocking intruders, the creation of enhanced barriers in cells, and aiding in the creation of good bacteria that competes with pathogens and toxins in the intestines. Furthermore, probiotics have been found to support immune health and help control activity-induced inflammation. Probiotics may be effective tools to help give your immune system a little bit of a necessary boost.

READ:How to Tell if Your Body Needs Probiotics

With that said, which probiotics are the best for your defense system? There are a handful of popular, common probiotics in the market, but there are three which share this beneficial effect for the immune system. According to Yan and Polk who authored a study on probiotics and immune health, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces are the three commonly used probiotics in humans. They are also three of which showed beneficial effects of probiotics for our immune defense.

LEARN MORE:The Surprising Power Of Probiotics On Your Overall Health

Dysbiosis And Human Diseases

The intestinal microbiome plays an important role in the function and integrity of the gastrointestinal tract, maintenance of immune homeostasis and host energy metabolism . Perturbations in the composition of microbial communities, also known as dysbiosis, may result in disrupted interactions between microbes and its host. These changes in microbiome composition and function may contribute to disease susceptibility . Several studies have demonstrated associations between intestinal dysbiosis and chronic low-grade inflammation and metabolic disorders , ultimately resulting in metabolic syndrome, obesity and diabetes . Alterations in the composition of the intestinal microbiome have been associated with infections in the gastrointestinal tract, inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome . Treatment modalities to manipulate and restore the balance in the richness and diversity of intestinal microbiome are being explored . Probiotics may introduce beneficial functions into the gastrointestinal tract or enhance the functionality of existing microbial communities. Probiotics may also affect the composition and function of microbial communities by competition for nutrients, production of growth substrates or inhibitors and modulation of intestinal immunity . This concept is supported by results from randomized controlled clinical trials showing the benefits of probiotics during the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases .

Recommended Reading: How To Choose A Probiotic Supplement

How Probiotics Can Boost Your Immune System

A strong immune system: its something that we all want. Whether your immune system is fighting off a cold, keeping your digestive system running well, or protecting you from a serious disease, it is one of the most important systems in your body.

You may be wondering what you can do to boost your immune system and hopefully improve your health. Youve likely heard the age-old advice to get enough sleep, stay hydrated, eat well, and avoid smoking. But are there other ways you can help? Yes, and one of these ways is as simple as incorporating the right friendly bacteria into your diet.

Today well discuss how probiotics boost the immune system.

How Might Probiotics Work

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Probiotics may have a variety of effects in the body, and different probiotics may act in different ways.

Probiotics might:

  • Help your body maintain a healthy community of microorganisms or help your bodyâs community of microorganisms return to a healthy condition after being disturbed
  • Produce substances that have desirable effects
  • Influence your bodyâs immune response.

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What Foods Contain Probiotics

The best way to support your immune system is to eat probiotic-containing foods as often as possible. Probiotics from food or supplements are the same or very similar to the bugs naturally found in your gut. Taking probiotics can bring this bacteria into your colon, helping to restore the correct balance of helpful bugs.

A few foods that are high in probiotics include:

Aim to include a variety of these foods in your diet to help load your gut with healthy microbes that will keep your immune system healthy.

What Can You Do To Boost Your Immune System

The idea of boosting your immunity is enticing, but the ability to do so has proved elusive for several reasons. The immune system is precisely that a system, not a single entity. To function well, it requires balance and harmony. There is still much that researchers don’t know about the intricacies and interconnectedness of the immune response. For now, there are no scientifically proven direct links between lifestyle and enhanced immune function.

But that doesn’t mean the effects of lifestyle on the immune system aren’t intriguing and shouldn’t be studied. Researchers are exploring the effects of diet, exercise, age, psychological stress, and other factors on the immune response, both in animals and in humans. In the meantime, general healthy-living strategies make sense since they likely help immune function and they come with other proven health benefits.

Immunity in action. A healthy immune system can defeat invading pathogens as shown above, where two bacteria that cause gonorrhea are no match for the large phagocyte, called a neutrophil, that engulfs and kills them .

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The Life Inside All Of Us

Microbes & me is a new collaborative series between BBC Future and BBC Good Food.

In the series, well be looking at recent research into the microbiome of bacteria that lives in all of us.

Well be exploring how it affects our health, what could be having detrimental effects on it, and recommending recipes that might help it thrive.

Probiotics have been touted as a treatment for a huge range of conditions, from obesity to mental health problems. One of their popular uses is to replenish the gut microbiome after a course of antibiotics. The logic is antibiotics wipe out your gut bacteria along with the harmful bacteria that might be causing your infection, so a probiotic can help to restore order to your intestines.

But while it might sound like sense, there is scant solid evidence suggesting probiotics actually work if taken this way. Researchers have found that taking probiotics after antibiotics in fact delays gut health recovery.

Part of the problem when trying to figure out whether or not probiotics work is because different people can mean a variety of things with the term probiotic. To a scientist, it might be seen as a living culture of microorganisms that typically live in the healthy human gut. But the powdery substance blister packs on supermarket shelves can bear little resemblance to that definition.

Even when researchers use viable, living bacterial strains in their research, the cocktail varies from one lab to another making it tricky to compare.

How Probiotics Are Good For You

Your Healthy Family: Probiotics boost your immune system

They might lower the number of “bad” bacteria in your gut that can cause illness or inflammation. They can also replace those problem germs with good or helpful bacteria.

Researchers are studying when and how probiotics might best help. There’s more research for some illnesses than others. They might help people with:

  • Diarrhea, especially when it’s linked to specific antibiotics. Probiotics also might help with infectious diarrhea, especially in children.
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Some probiotics might keep ulcerative colitis in remission and prevent Crohn’s disease from relapsing and getting worse.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome. Probiotics can sometimes help ease symptoms, including stomach pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation.

Probiotics also are being studied for many other conditions. There isnât as much research yet, but some people say that probiotics have helped them with:

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How Probiotics Alter The Intestinal Microbiota

In addition to directly affecting the composition of the intestinal microbiota, probiotics may also modulate the global metabolic function of intestinal microbiomes. Fermented milk products containing several probiotics did not alter the composition of intestinal bacterial communities in gnotobiotic mice and monozygotic twins . However, fecal metatranscriptomic analysis of probiotics-treated animals demonstrated significant changes in expression of microbial enzymes, especially enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism. Moreover, mass spectrometric analysis of urinary metabolites revealed altered abundance of several carbohydrate metabolites. These observations suggested that probiotics may affect the global metabolic function of the intestinal microbiome.

How Do They Work

Researchers are trying to figure out exactly how probiotics work. Some of the ways they may keep you healthy:

  • When you lose “good” bacteria in your body, for example after you take antibiotics, probiotics can help replace them.
  • They can help balance your “good” and “bad” bacteria to keep your body working the way it should.

Also Check: How Do Antibiotics Affect The Microbiome

Can I Use Probiotics To Help With Medical Conditions

There is currently a large amount of research happening around the idea of what probiotics can do for your body. Even though there are a lot of possibly positive outcomes, researchers are still working to find definitive answers about how probiotics can help with various conditions.

However, there are some medical conditions where probiotics may help. This can vary between people meaning that what works for one person may not work for another. These can also vary based on the certain probiotic that is taken.

Some of the conditions that might be helped by increasing the amount of probiotics in your body include:

  • Upper respiratory infections .

Diet And Its Effects On The Gut Microbiota

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Luminal conversion by intestinal microbes may play an important role in hostmicrobiota interactions. Orally consumed nutrients may be converted by intestinal microbes into bioactive compounds that could affect the health of the host and the intestinal microbiota. GABA, gamma-aminobutyric acid SCFAs, short-chain fatty acids.

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What Has Science Shown About The Effectiveness Of Probiotics For Health Conditions

A great deal of research has been done on probiotics, but much remains to be learned about whether theyâre helpful and safe for various health conditions.

Probiotics have shown promise for a variety of health purposes, including prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea , prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis and in premature infants, treatment of infant colic, treatment of periodontal disease, and induction or maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis.

However, in most instances, we still donât know which probiotics are helpful and which are not. We also donât know how much of the probiotic people would have to take or who would be most likely to benefit. Even for the conditions that have been studied the most, researchers are still working toward finding the answers to these questions.

The following sections summarize the research on probiotics for some of the conditions for which theyâve been studied.

Side Effects And Risks

Probiotics are considered safe for most people. Studies dont report major risks involved with taking them.

The most commonly reported side effects of probiotics are gas and bloating. If you have severe reactions, including abdominal pain, reduce your daily CFU intake and slowly increase again over time.

Always talk with your doctor before beginning a new health supplement. Before giving probiotic supplements to your child, talk to their pediatrician. Premature infants shouldnt take some probiotics.

Probiotics might not be recommended for people with chronic illness or a weakened immune system. Dont use probiotics to replace prescription medications without first consulting your doctor.

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Fermented Foods And Disease Prevention

Your body is constantly exposed to outside âintruderâ microorganisms looking for a body to host them. As mentioned above, your body uses the immune system to fight against these harmful bacteria, and fermented foods contain essential microorganisms that strengthen that defense.

When your body is going through a lot of stress caused either because of your lifestyle or cell injury, allergies, or other types of health conditions, it can trigger the immune system to be overactive. This can result in allergies, autoimmune diseases, and other health conditions.

Healthy intestinal flora is defined by the presence of two things: Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. These prevent the colonization of certain bacteria that can lead to infections, especially in the stomach. Remember that an imbalance of bacteria in your system can lead to poor gut health, cause inflammation and even affect your mood.

Bifidobacteria have anti-inflammatory effects in yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha. The lactobacilli have antiseptic, antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties, essential in preventing inflammation. They are found in yogurt, raw milk, fermented meat, vegetables, fruits, sourdough, and kombucha.

Should I Also Take A Probiotic

Probiotics: Do they work and are they safe?

Specific probiotic strains can be beneficial in maintenance of a healthy immune system. These are Lactobacillus paracasei 8700:2 and Lactobacillus plantarum HEAL 9, which have been proven in clinical trials to:

  • Reduce the frequency, severity and duration of colds
  • Reduce the number of sick days from colds
  • Boost immune system function

Taken daily, especially during cold and flu season, these strains can support both your gut health and immune system.

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Probiotics: Proven Protection Against Pathogens

Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria that support the health of the bacteria already living in your gut. One of their main jobs is to crowd out harmful pathogenic bacteria and yeasts, including Candida.

Probiotics also help in the digestion of the food you eat, and improve the efficiency with which you can absorb vitamins and minerals. Most importantly, probiotics support your immune system and help to protect you from harmful microorganisms.

There is now plenty of scientific research to explain how and why probiotics help to boost the immune system. The many different species of beneficial bacteria in your gut work to provide a protective barrier within your colon and intestines. When you take probiotic supplements or eat fermented foods, you are helping to optimize and support these beneficial bacteria.

Research has shown that the huge range of bacteria in the gut all work together to keep your immune system primed and ready to act.

Antibiotics And Your Immune System

The first line of defense for your system is gut microbiota. Itâs naturally designed to protect your body from âintruders.â However, recently, antibiotics have been used as the first line of protection. But they also run the risk of damaging intestinal bacteria. While antibiotics are sometimes essential and can help save lives, prevent infections, and minimize inflammation, they can also destroy good bacteria.

What is more, pasteurization and sterilization are becoming more and more popular. On the one hand, these processes help kill dangerous germs that can cause health conditions to develop. But on the other hand, they can also destroy vitamins and minerals that benefit the immune system.

One way to prevent the decrease of these beneficial bacteria in your system is by consuming fermented food, like probiotics! You canât always avoid using antibiotics or interacting with pasteurized and sterilized foods, but you can supplement your diet with probiotics to renew the microflora in your system. Make sure to add fermented food to every meal to promote probiotic growth. A diet high in sugar or a diet without any probiotics can lead to various health issues and a weakened immune system.

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The Future Of Probiotics

Although probiotics research has exploded recently, some facts about their effectiveness remain unclear. For example, within the two main groups of probioticsBifidobacterium and Lactobacillusdoctors are still trying to pinpoint which strains are the most helpful and whats the optimal amount to take.

If youre a healthy adult, probiotic- and prebiotic-rich foods are safe to eat but if you want to try a supplement, talk to your doctor first about brand, strain and dose, especially if you have a compromised immune system.

What Foods Are High In Probiotics

4 Ways to Support Your Immune System

If you are interested in probiotics for immune health, youll want to know which foods help restore gut balance. Since probiotics help your immune system, you want to carefully choose your foods.

Here are some specific suggestions:

So, why do so many fermented foods contain probiotics? Fermenting is a timeless technique of food preservation. The process, otherwise known as lacto-fermentation, allows natural bacteria to feed on the foods starch or sugar. This creates lactic acid, which preserves the food. But, not only does fermentation preserve food it promotes beneficial enzymes, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and good bacteria.

Knowing this, you may choose to dramatically increase your intake of fermented foods, but you must be careful. Some people experience digestive side effects, such as an increase in bloating and gas. These are caused by excessive gas thats produced when the probiotics kill harmful fungi and gut bacteria.

Ideally, you should work on creating a healthy and balanced diet. Add probiotic-rich foods to as many meals as you realistically can, but continue to focus on other nutrients too. You dont want to consume too much of any type of food, but rather focus on creating balance.

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Should I Try Probiotics

If you are interested in adding probiotics to your diet, its worth a conversation with your healthcare provider. Many providers may suggest giving them a try to see if they help with your general health. It is important to remember that not all probiotics behave the same way and have the same effects. Each has their own individual benefits. They generally dont cause harm. One easy way to start can be by simply introducing probiotic-rich foods into your diet, like yogurt.

Before you start any supplements, make sure you talk to your healthcare provider. Your provider may be able to point you in the right direction, helping you figure out the best probiotic to take, how much to take and when to take it. A conversation is always worth the time when it concerns your health.

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