The Science Behind Probiotics and Their Impact on the Immune System

by Augustus Callen

4 Ways To Boost Your Immune System | SLO Health

Probiotics are living microorganisms that can help your immune system. They are naturally found in a wide variety of foods and are commonly used as supplements. The science behind natural probiotics is complicated, but experts agree they can benefit many people with gastrointestinal conditions and improve overall health in healthy individuals.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are bacteria that live in your gut and help to maintain your health. You can find them in many foods, and they’re also available in supplements, providing various strains to meet your wellness needs. Probiotics have been linked to many benefits, including improving digestion and immunity. They can help prevent gastrointestinal diseases like diarrhea and antibiotic-related diarrhea and enhance immune function in people with allergies or inflammatory conditions. While there are many options for getting your daily natural probiotics, the most effective way is to choose a high-quality, multi-strain blend of probiotics. Supplements such as antioxidants, prebiotics, vitamins, and minerals may include additional ingredients that promote digestive health and overall wellness. You can get probiotics in your diet in a few different ways, but the best sources of natural probiotics are fermented foods. Fermented foods result from letting certain microorganisms break down sugars in food, making them more accessible for your body to digest. One of the most well-known and popular probiotic foods is yogurt. Yogurt can be made from cows, goats, or non-dairy, such as coconut milk. This milk product has been fermented for centuries and is an excellent source of probiotics.

How do Probiotics Work?

The gut contains billions of bacteria that help support critical functions in the body, such as digestion, nutrient absorption, and the immune system. The ecosystem of these beneficial bacteria is known as the gut microbiome. Many factors, such as a diet of processed foods, stress, and certain medications, can disrupt this ecosystem and lead to digestive discomfort, irregular bowel movements, more frequent illness, and allergies. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in your gut and keep your immune system healthy. They also help you absorb nutrients and regulate bowel movements. Antibiotics are often prescribed to treat an infection, but these medications can kill off good bacteria in the gut, leaving room for bad ones. This can cause diarrhea in some people, and adding probiotics after taking antibiotics is thought to repopulate the good bacteria in your gut, making you feel better quicker. It’s important to talk to your doctor about what kind of probiotics will work best for you. They can recommend a high-quality product and provide you with information on how to use it. Research shows that a healthy microbiome can impact your mood and mental health. It may produce neurotransmitters like serotonin that help sleep, mood, and focus. A healthy microbiome can also reduce the risk of depression and anxiety.

What are the Benefits of Probiotics?

The best sources of probiotics come from various foods and drinks that have been fermented or cultured. Lactic acid bacteria and Bifidobacterium are the most important probiotics for your digestive system. They are known to improve your immune system, strengthen the digestive tract, and tame symptoms of lactose intolerance. Several studies show that probiotics effectively treat various gastrointestinal problems and other diseases. They have been shown to treat inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal infection, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, and allergies. They also protect against virulent infections, such as pneumonia virus. The protective effects are mediated through Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and non-immune-mediated means, such as the deposition of antimicrobial compounds on the gut lining that inhibits pathogenic microorganisms’ growth and adhesion abilities. Some probiotics also have immune-stimulating properties that affect the number of macrophages and DCs in the intestine and increase their functionality, reflected in cytokine production. The synthesis of organic acids and sizeable molecular weight antimicrobial compounds called bacteriocins is another mechanism by which probiotics positively impact the immune system.

What are the Best Sources of Probiotics?

Probiotics can come in foods such as fermented milk, sweet fermented tea, spicy fermented cabbage, fermented soybean patties, and sauerkraut, as well as supplements. All these products have naturally present bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract and can be a great source of good bacteria. A healthy gut is one of the keys to a robust immune system and can be compromised by illness, courses of antibiotics, or dietary deficiencies. By boosting the number of ‘friendly’ bacteria, probiotics help to create a balance in your digestive system that can improve digestion and immunity. A probiotic supplement can help alleviate the symptoms of people prone to allergies and eczema. Research has shown that probiotics can reduce the inflammation associated with these conditions by targeting a specific type of immune cell, which may play a role in regulating inflammatory responses. The elderly can also benefit from a good supply of friendly bacteria, as aging decreases immune function. Studies have found that a particular strain of Bifidobacteria called BB-12(r) and soil-based probiotic Bacillus coagulans Unique IS-2 can improve immune response in this group of patients.

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