My gut and my immune system? What?

A HEALTHY GUT MICROBIOME MAY BE YOUR BEST IMMUNE DEFENSE

What does gut health have to do with immunity?

The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”

Most of us are aware that probiotics and gut health can help improve digestion, but  immunity?  YUP.  Researchers, including those at Johns Hopkins University, have found substantial interaction between the immune system and the bacteria that populate our gut microbiome. This makes sense, since a huge proportion of the immune system is in the gastrointestinal tract—our gut.

There are trillions of bacteria living in our gut, often referred to as "microflora" or "microbiome".  These lovely little organisms play a key role in our ability to fight off infection.  In an adult we can have as much as 3.5-4.5lbs of good bacteria in our gut.  And those littles guys are responsible for as much as 70% of our immune function can happen in our gut.  So,  while these good bacteria don’t actually interact directly with a virus itself; they do promote a healthy gut and thus, a healthy immune system.  

We have all experienced cold and flu symptoms at one point, but what exactly is happening to create those symptoms? The runny nose, headaches, sore throat, cough, weakness, discomfort, fever, chills, and ensuing infections are all thanks to a VIRAL infection in the upper respiratory tract.  Because the cause of all this cold and flu misery is a virus, antibiotics are not the answer.  These are best reserved to treat a bacterial infection (bad bacteria)  not a viral one.  Overuse of antibiotics when not indicated has lead to an abundance of resistance to these medications.

Probiotics are live, “friendly” bacteria in the microflora that work to keep a healthy intestinal balance, reducing the amount of harmful bacteria while replenishing and maintaining beneficial strains. Maintaining this balance is critical for overall good health.  Unfortunately, our average "western diet" lacking in fruits and vegetables and abundant with processed foods and sugars have had severe negative effects on the state of our gut bacteria thus making difficult for our bodies to fight off  infections, allergies and a host of other conditions.

While probiotics may be added in foods such as yogurt and smoothies, direct probiotic supplementation provides the highest amount of beneficial live and active cultures.

And here, quality is key!

BENEFITS OF PROBIOTICS

Researchers have described the roll of friendly bacteria in our gut microbiome as defenders that spend their lives “excreting massive quantities of antibodies into the gut” in their quest to control the way our bodies react to outside microbial invaders.

Researchers across the world have turned their focus to probiotics and their relationship with immune health.

A study of Croatian children attending day care centres administered half of the children with probiotics and the other half with a placebo. After three months, the researchers found that those who had taken probiotics had a significantly lower risk of respiratory tract infections than those taking the placebo. And those taking probiotics who did develop infections had a reduced number of days of symptoms.

Swedish researchers conducted a study on 272 adults and found that in comparison to the group taking placebos, the group using probiotics experienced milder cold and flu symptoms and a decrease in the infection’s duration. Cases of the cold and flu among participants taking probiotics averaged 6.2 days compared to the 8.2-day duration of their placebo-taking peers.

Probiotics should be a routine part of a daily lifestyle to help maintain optimal health conditions.

At Dispensaries Ltd we only carry top quality probiotics.  Talk to one of our pharmacists for a formulation that is right for you, your spouse or your children.



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