Immune System Support (Part 2): Probiotics
The human body depends on a vast microbiome that controls many of the body’s vital functions. The trillions of bacteria living in the human gut have enormous impact on our health and vulnerability to disease.
The GI tract’s intestinal mucosa functions as a barrier against antigens. Studies show that restoring the gut content of friendly bacteria can support healthy immune function, leaving the body better equipped to fight off infections, should they occur.
Probiotics may help to reduce viral illness risk and severity by supporting mucosal defenses and general immune function. “Probiotic bacteria have been shown to enhance humoral immune responses and thereby promote the intestine’s immunologic barrier. Moreover, probiotic bacteria have been shown to stimulate nonspecific host resistance to microbial pathogens, and thereby aid in immune elimination, and to modulate the host’s immune responses to potentially harmful antigens” (Isolauri et al, 2001).
There appears to be a strong connection between the gut microbiome and protection of the respiratory tract from viruses. The GI and respiratory tracts share a similar mucosa, the primary site where most common viruses gain entry into the body. Probiotics can boost the mucosal defense system of both the GI and respiratory tract and may have beneficial effects against respiratory tract infections.
One study randomized 250 healthy adults to receive a probiotic blend or a placebo for 90 days during peak flu season (Pregliasco, 2008). At the end of the study, the probiotic group experienced 75% fewer flu and flu-like viral illnesses. Of those who did get sick, symptom severity was reduced by 37% in the probiotic group. “These results demonstrate that a regular, long-term intake of [probiotics] may improve health by reducing the incidence and severity of respiratory diseases” (Pregliasco, 2008).
A healthy and balanced microbiome is a critical factor in sustaining our resistance to disease and promoting vigor and good health. Microbiomes can become imbalanced through poor diet, drugs, unhealthy lifestyle, and exposure to environmental toxins. An imbalance in the ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria contributes to irregular intestinal function, moods & mental health, metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, and an impaired immune system.
Daily supplementation of probiotics, living bacteria with beneficial properties, can help restore healthy balanced microbiomes.
Bacillus Coagulans is a novel lactic-acid producing probiotic which studies have found to be beneficial for its ability to:
- promote intestinal digestion
- produce enzymes to facilitate excretion and digestion
- regulate host symbiotic microbiota and inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria
- normalize immune cell functions
“Compared with traditional commercial probiotics, B. coagulans is more likely to exert its probiotic role in the intestinal tract than traditional live probiotics due to its ability to produce spores. B. coagulans can survive from the stomach in the form of spores and germinate in the intestine, thereby exerting its probiotic effect.”
Studies have confirmed that B. coagulans is able to normalize the amount of immune system cells (the number of lymphocytes, macrophages, and T-cells) as well as those cells’ ability to promote immune system function (Bomko, Nosalskaya, Kabluchko, Lisnyak, & Martynov, 2017).
Daily oral consumption of Bacillus Coagulans in capsule form “significantly increased T-cell production” in response to viruses (Baron, 2009). “[B. coagulans] probiotic may be a safe and effective therapeutic option for enhancing T-cell response to certain viral respiratory tract infections”.
References: Isolauri, E., Sütas, Y., Kankaanpää, P., Arvilommi, H., & Salminen, S. (2001). Probiotics: effects on immunity. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 73(2), 444s–450s. doi:10.1093/ajcn/73.2.444s Sæterdal, I., Underland, V., & Nilsen, E. S. (2012). The Effect of Probiotics for Preventing Acute Upper Respiratory Tract Infections. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 1(2), 124–125. doi:10.7453/gahmj.2012.1.2.014 Pregliasco, F., Anselmi, G., Fonte, L., Giussani, F., Schieppati, S., & Soletti, L. (2008). A New Chance of Preventing Winter Diseases by the Administration of Synbiotic Formulations. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, 42, S224–S233. doi:10.1097/mcg.0b013e31817e1c91