The Importance of Probiotics for Immune Health

The Importance of Probiotics for Immune Health

How the Immune System Works

The coordinated job of the immune system, including both our Adaptive and Innate functions, is to correctly differentiate between what is “self” and “not-self”.

The immune system must identify what is a pathogen or toxin that we want to block, versus a beneficial compound that should get absorbed.

This vital job is what allows us to mount a strong defense against bacteria and viruses but not overreact with allergies or autoimmunity.

The Microbiome Plays a Lead Immune Role

You may have heard that the bacteria in our gut make up 70 to 80% of our immunity. While the exact amount is still uncertain, we know they play an enormous role.

That is because probiotics are the educators of the immune system.

Bacteria help determine what is self and what is harmful. Our bacteria communicate with our immune system and modulate our immune response.

The Importance of Bolstering our Bacteria

It is essential to have a diversity of bacteria and enough of them. This helps to support an appropriate immune response and can reduce our chances of having allergies or an overly permeable gut.

It can help to take a daily probiotic. It is also another reason to continue to eat healthy fresh food and fiber to feed your gut!

First, you need to have good bacteria in there, to seed the gut, and then you need to eat good food to grow a diversity of them.

The Huge Impact of Tiny Invisible Microbes

Over the next three decades, the percentage of bacterial infections that are resistant to antibiotic treatments is likely to grow to 40%, an almost 15% increase.

"This is almost as big, if not bigger, than climate change in a sense because this is directly impacting people. The numbers are just staggering," says Brett Finlay, a University of British Columbia microbiology professor. "It's time to do something now."

While that feels a bit scary, one action we can personally take is to focus on developing robust immunity, the cornerstone of which is robust gut health.

Fighting the constant onslaught with a steady defense

It’s been shown that even brief changes in diet can totally alter the microbiome. That’s why it’s smart to consistently reinforce your good bacteria.

A week of eating on the road while traveling or even a bad case of food poisoning can have a lingering impact. As you might guess, times, when people indulge, can tip the gut in the wrong direction, resulting in digestive discomfort from this disruption.

These alterations in your habits can create inner shifts that may trigger new cravings, as the disrupted microbiome starts to ask for sugar and alcohol, using chemical messengers that make it harder for you to get back to good habits.

Continually taking a probiotic supplement is an easy way to stay on track and make sure your defenses and willpower stay strong.

(Flora makes it easy with their subscription service. When you subscribe to get your probiotics monthly, you save an extra 10% too!)

A Good Defense is the Best Offence

There are many indications that health issues with no cure are likely to become a lot more common in the future. There can be no certainty about what the best treatments are for novel infectious agents such as the ones we will see more of in the future.

Therefore, prevention is best. Have good habits. Wash your hands. Eat nutritious, good quality food, live a balanced lifestyle and take some time to relax. Avoid nutrient deficiencies, get moderate exercise, air out your house.

What Experts Recommend

Microbiologists say that, unfortunately, the more we rely on antibiotics and strong disinfectants, the more the microbial world will be adapting and changing to stay ahead of us.

Overprescribing antibiotics and being exposed to drug-resistant strains of bacteria at home, often in health-care settings, and abroad, in areas of the world with even worse antibiotic resistance, might put many of us at risk.

The International Society for Immunonutrition recently released a position statement with regards to the current viral pandemic. “There is much evidence from animal and human studies that antioxidant nutrition and related nutrients support the immune system to function properly."

They suggest focusing on proper nutrition. Of course, be sure to include plenty of antioxidant-rich vegetables to feed your microbiome. And, to give you peace of mind and make your healthy habits easy to stick to, Flora is offering special savings for those who subscribe to get their probiotic delivered monthly. Use code DAILYHEALTH for 15% off your one-time order or subscribe for hassle-free monthly delivery with 10% off every shipment today.

Dana Green Remedios, RHN, RNCP, is a Vancouver-based educator and coach. She is a regular contributor to the FloraHealthy blog and can answer your questions in English, French, and Spanish as a Product Information Specialist at Flora.