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Probiotics – Who Needs Them?

Probiotics help the body to produce certain vitamins that help keep us strong and they fight viruses on many different levels.

AnnA Rushton

Probiotics may help give your immune system a boost and some have been shown to promote the production of natural antibodies to boost immune cells to fight infection and viruses.

While the virus is still in your intestinal tract, good bacteria surround and neutralise the virus to help your recovery.

What are probiotics?

The idea that bacteria are beneficial can be tough to understand. We take antibiotics to kill harmful bacterial infections and use antibacterial soaps and lotions more than ever.

The wrong bacteria in the wrong place can cause problems, but the right bacteria in the right place can have benefits.

This is where probiotics come in. Probiotics are live microorganisms that may be able to help prevent and treat some illnesses. Promoting a healthy digestive tract and a healthy immune system are their most widely studied benefits at this time.

These are also commonly known as friendly, good, or healthy bacteria. Probiotics can be supplied through foods, beverages, and dietary supplements.

The root of the word probiotic comes from the Greek word pro, meaning “promoting,” and biotic, meaning “life.” The discovery of probiotics came about in the early 20th century, when Elie Metchnikoff, known as the “father of probiotics,” had observed that rural dwellers in Bulgaria lived to very old ages despite extreme poverty and harsh climate.

He theorized that health could be enhanced and senility delayed by manipulating the intestinal microbiome with host-friendly bacteria found in sour milk. Since then, research has continued to support his findings along with suggesting even more benefits.

What are the health benefits of probiotics?

Probiotics may seem new to the food and supplement industry, but they have been with us from our first breath. During a delivery through the birth canal, a newborn picks up the bacteria Bacteroides, Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Escherichia coli from his/her mother.

These good bacteria are not transmitted when a Cesarean section is performed and have been shown to be the reason why some infants born by C-section have allergies, less than optimal immune systems, and lower levels of gut microflora.

What exactly do probiotics do?

They are believed to protect us in two ways.

The first is the role that they play in our digestion. We know that our digestive tract needs a healthy balance between the good and bad gut bacteria, so what gets in the way of this?

It looks like our lifestyle is both the problem and the solution. Poor food choices, emotional stress, lack of sleep, antibiotic overuse, other drugs, and environmental influences can all shift the balance in favor of the bad bacteria.

Our body normally has what we would call good or helpful bacteria and bad or harmful bacteria. Maintaining the correct balance between these bacteria is the second way probiotics can help and that balance is necessary for optimal health.

Age, genetics, and diet may influence the composition of the bacteria in the body and an imbalance is called dysbiosis, and this has possible links to diseases of the intestinal tract.

These include ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease, as well as more systemic diseases such as obesity and type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Probiotics and our immune system?

When the digestive tract is healthy, it filters out and eliminates things that can damage it, such as harmful bacteria, toxins, chemicals, and other waste products. The healthy balance of bacteria assists with the regulation of gastrointestinal motility and maintenance of gut barrier function.

Research has shown some benefits for the use of probiotics for infectious diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, gut transit, IBS, abdominal pain and bloating, ulcerative colitis,

The other way that probiotics help is the impact that they have on our immune system. Some believe that this role is the most important. Our immune system is our protection against germs and viruses.

When it doesn’t function properly, we can suffer from allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders (for example, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis), and infections.

By maintaining the correct balance from birth, the hope would be to prevent these ailments. Our immune system can benefit anytime that balanced is restored, so it’s never too late.

Research into the benefits of probiotics has been branching out, and new areas are emerging. Preliminary research has linked them to supporting the health of the reproductive tract, oral cavity, lungs, skin and gut-brain axis, and the prevention and treatment of obesity and type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

and beverages contain bacteria and/or yeasts. Up until the 1960s, the only gut microflora that they were able to identify were clostridia, lactobacilli, enterococci, and E. coli. Since then, innovative techniques have discovered many more bacteria.

There are several different kinds of probiotics, and their health benefits are determined by the job that they do in the gut. They must be identified by their genus, species, and probiotic strain level.

What foods contain probiotics?

The discovery of the benefits of probiotics began with sour milk. Today we have many other options to get various bacteria from our foods, although it’s not as simple as just adding them to the food.

For there to be health benefits, the microorganism has to be able to survive the passage through the gastrointestinal tract, survive the food manufacturing process, and grow and survive during the ripening or storage period. Also, the bacteria must not negatively affect product quality and be included on the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list.

Most bacteria are included through the fermentation process. Fermentation helps extend the shelf life of perishable foods. It is a slow decomposition process of organic substances induced by microorganisms or enzymes that essentially convert carbohydrates to alcohols or organic acids.

The lactic acid supplies the bacteria that then add the health benefits to the food. You can purchase foods that are fermented or ferment them yourself.

Kefir: This could be the most ideal probiotic dairy product because it contains both bacteria and yeast working together to provide the numerous health benefits.

In a recent eight-week study, people with diabetes were given kefir milk containing Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and bifidobacteria vs. conventional fermented milk. The hemoglobin A1C levels were significantly lower in the group consuming the kefir.

Kimchi: This fermented vegetable is made from Chinese cabbage (beachu), radish, green onion, red pepper powder, garlic, ginger, and fermented seafood (jeotgal).

Many bacteria have been found to be present and a recent review linked the health benefits of kimchi to anticancer, antiobesity, anticonstipation, colon health promotion, cholesterol reduction, antioxidative and antiaging properties, brain health promotion, immune promotion, and skin health promotion.

Yoghurt:  Research has shown links with yogurt to have positive effects on the gut microbiota and is associated with a reduced risk for gastrointestinal disease and improvement of lactose intolerance (especially among children), type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, allergies and respiratory diseases, as well as improved dental and bone health.

Other foods include miso (fermented soybean paste); tempeh; sauerkraut; aged soft cheese; sourdough bread; sour pickles; and fermented cucumber

Helpful information:

Supplements play an important role when the diet is not adequate to supply our needs so if you feel you may be lacking in helpful bacteria then a specific Probiotic can be helpful and information on Wellsprings can be found here: wellsprings-probiotic-capsules

When faced with an illness, whether from virus or anything else there are simple self help measures to keep you healthy.

One of the most important is good sleep as that is when the body renews its resources to help you cope with illness, and together with a healthy diet and dealing with stress those are the top ways to help yourself.

Another element in staying healthy is having good levels of vitamin D, and  progesterone improves the body’s sensitivity to vitamin D, producing more beneficial immune-system T cells.

In the central nervous system progesterone has been shown to protect nerve cells against damage, degeneration, or impairment of function.

16 Foods That Boost and Improve Your Immune System

 

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