A healthy immune system is the key to a long and happy life.

It can be hard to maintain a healthy immune system, especially with the number of germs that are everywhere.

Probiotics are one of the best ways to support your immune system. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your gut health. By taking probiotics every day you can help keep your immune system functioning at its best.

The significance of probiotics in immune system health

We are officially in cold and flu season; everyone around us is sniffling, and we are preparing to bolster our immune systems in every way we can. You may have already stocked up on vitamin C and echinacea, but did you know that our gut contains 70% of our immune system?

It’s certainly not something we want to overlook when it comes to ensuring our immune system is strong and ready to defend us.

Illustration showing parts of the human immune system
Illustration showing parts of the human immune system

What exactly does the immune system do?

To protect us from health dangers, the immune system assembles a team of diverse cells, proteins, and organs. Physical injuries or exposure to germs, viruses, fungi, and poisons could result in these dangers. Both barriers, such as the mucous membrane lining your respiratory tract, and antibodies are produced in response to an invading infection.

Symptoms of a weakened immune system

In an ideal world, our bodies would always be prepared to fight off any virus or sickness that came our way. However, the body goes through a lot each day, and we don’t always offer enough support to maintain optimal health.

Have you ever noticed that after a stressful period at work, you develop a cold or a chest illness that knocks you out? The reason for this is that our bodies rapidly exhaust nutrients that are used to defend the body from the detrimental effects of stress during times of stress.

As a result, the immune system lacks the basic resources and energy needed to boost immune cell formation and function.

Furthermore, if you frequently suffer stomach trouble, such as diarrhoea and bloating, your gut health may be jeopardised, limiting its ability to support and maintain immune function. Recurrent colds, sluggish wound healing, frequent infections, feeling weary all the time, and stomach distress are all symptoms that your immune system needs help with.

How crucial are gut health and immune system strength?

Trillions of microorganisms, including a healthy balance of bacteria, dwell inside our gut; this is referred to as the microbiome. Every microbiota is as distinctive as a fingerprint; even identical twins have different profiles! Microorganisms account for a substantial portion of this microbiome, with a perfect mix of beneficial (aka “good”) and pathogenic (aka “bad”) bacteria.

This is involved in practically every aspect of human health, from mood to immune function, and they serve as the gut’s first line of defence. This means that when we eat toxins or pathogens through food or drink, these bacteria take care of them and keep them from reaching the gut lining and entering our bloodstream. They can ‘take up’ pathogenic bacteria and transport them out of our bodies via bowel movements.

For example, if you ingest food that is over its expiration date, you may get diarrhoea; this could be the ‘good’ bacteria pushing the ‘bad’ bacteria out of the body. Our ‘good’ bacteria also aid in digestion and allow us to obtain minerals that our bodies require for immunological function, such as zinc and vitamin C.

Another function of these bacteria is to communicate with the immune system and instruct it to produce more immune cells.

Simply put, if our ‘good’ gut flora isn’t numerous and thriving, we are at a higher risk of infection and sickness.

Unfortunately, several problems in daily life, such as illness, stress, medicine, or bad food, can influence our gut and create an increase in harmful bacteria. This is something that we can help with through food, lifestyle, and supplementation.

The benefits of having a balanced immune system
The benefits of having a balanced immune system

Which probiotics are beneficial to the immune system?

Probiotic refers to all beneficial bacteria, of which there are hundreds of distinct species that live in the human digestive system and work in various ways. Specific species may be useful for vaginal health, mental health, or immunological function, so be sure your probiotic has the species and strains you want.

Immune support is a common effect of many probiotic strains; however, there are a few strains that have been most thoroughly explored for their immune-boosting qualities.

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus – This bacteria produces lactic acid, acetic acid, and hydrogen peroxide through fermentation, which creates an environment in which harmful bacteria cannot flourish, hence supporting normal immune system function.
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum – this bacteria has the ability to modify the immune system and reduce inflammation.
  • Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis – this bacteria causes an increase in immune cell activity.
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus – This bacteria produces antibiotic compounds during fermentation that inhibit the growth of harmful microorganisms. It can also pass into different parts of the body, like the vagina, to battle infection there.

Probiotics can be found in fermented foods and drinks such as kombucha, yoghurt, and sauerkraut, as well as pills. Probiotic foods have a place in a balanced diet, but the inherent differences in bacterial strains and numbers in these foods make conducting research trials and advising on their benefits problematic.

How quickly do probiotics start working?

Probiotics will give quantifiable results for everyone in a different time frame, but it is advisable to take them for 1-3 months to support against illnesses before they occur. According to research, beneficial bacteria species can not only protect us from the beginning of colds and flu but also shorten the duration of disease.

So, if you’re wondering, “Can probiotics protect me against a cold?” or “Will probiotics get rid of my cold?” you can rest assured that it’s never too late to give your immune system a boost. Probiotics have been proven to lessen the duration of symptoms by 33% when used during a cold compared to a placebo group.

Which illnesses may probiotics treat?

We’ve concentrated on the benefits of probiotics for cold and flu relief, but their use is far broader. Probiotics have been shown in studies to help the immune system fight infections in the gastrointestinal tract, such as Clostridioides difficile (c. diff), urinary tracts, such as UTIs/cystitis, vaginal tracts, such as thrush, upper respiratory tract, such as chest infection, and mouth, such as periodontal diseases.

Can newborns and children benefit from probiotics to boost their immune systems?

Without a doubt! Probiotics are safe for the entire family, so you can protect them from the spread of bugs in schools. Children’s microbiomes may be rapidly changing due to the introduction of new locations, close interaction with people, homework and test stress, and possibly a higher sugar diet and a limited choice of foods.

All of these factors may diminish their good gut flora and increase their susceptibility to harmful microorganisms. The safety and efficacy of probiotic use in children have been thoroughly examined, with studies indicating that there is a significant benefit to general health, including the immune system.

Probiotics with a variety of strains also produce better outcomes in preventing the recurrence of common illnesses in school-aged children.

Child immune system. Healthy and sick kids, immune defence
Child immune system. Healthy and sick kids, immune defence

How might probiotics help the elderly’s immune system?

Probiotics have a purpose in immunological support for everyone, from infants to the elderly. As we get older, our immune systems weaken, making us more prone to disease and dealing with symptoms that last longer than our younger counterparts.

Furthermore, changes in the digestive tract with age can diminish the diversity of helpful bacteria in the gut. Probiotic use on a regular basis has been demonstrated to reintroduce good bacteria and maintain a healthy balance in the gut, which supports a healthy immune system.

How does one’s lifestyle affect their requirement for probiotics?

Other factors that may increase the need for additional probiotics to support a healthy gut and immune function, in addition to age, include groups of people who:

  • Smoke
  • Are undergoing exams
  • Have a hectic lifestyle
  • Have poor sleep patterns
  • Drink alcohol on a regular basis
  • Travel frequently
Overview of things you do that harm your immune system
Overview of things you do that harm your immune system

Who is exempt from this?

As with many aspects of health, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for probiotics and the immune system. Individuals with severely impaired immune systems may be unable to take probiotics and should contact with their doctor before taking these supplements. Probiotics are not recommended for those who are receiving immunotherapy since they may diminish the effectiveness of the medication.

Probiotics, in general, have a role for practically everyone who wants to support their immune system. They are a safe and effective technique to assist your stomach in maintaining strong defences!


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