3 Ways Probiotics Boost Immunity & Prevent the Common Cold
Taking Probiotics Regularly Has Been Shown To Enhance Immunity
Probiotics are bacteria and yeasts that confer beneficial health effects when you take them from an external source. Some probiotic-rich sources include dietary supplements and fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut etc.
The term “bacteria” has gained notoriety for causing numerous disease, some of which can be fatal. But this is not all that define bacteria.
As always, there are 2 sides of the story. Many types of bacteria are helpful in maintaining a balance in the body, known as homeostasis. For this reason, we call them “good” bacteria.
Did You Know Your Body, Especially The Gut, Harbors Trillions of “Good” Bacteria?
These bacteria work together with other microorganisms like yeasts to protect the body from external invaders.
When the balance of bacteria in the system is disrupted by external factors such as poor diet, overuse of antibiotics, or stress, you might be vulnerable to a number of chronic diseases. These include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and others.
In the recent years, the good bacteria has attracted substantial attention from the medical community for their potential role in digestion, immunity, inflammation, allergies, and prevention of infectious conditions.
Probiotics Can Boost Your Immune Function & Prevent Infections Like a Common Cold?
Immune function, or simply, immunity, is a defensive mechanism that enables the body to protect itself from an external threat like a microorganism. When an external invader enters your body, the immune cells get activated and attack the invader. The attack may directly involve cells like white blood cells or chemicals like antibodies.
No doubt, immunity is a basic survival mechanism, but an overactive or haphazard immune function can wreak havoc on your own healthy cells and tissues. For example, autoimmune diseases occur when your immune cells mistakenly attack the healthy tissues. Likewise, chronic inflammation is also associated with an abnormal immune function.
Probiotics compete with harmful microorganisms to secure their place in your gut.
The phrase “Survival of the Fittest” applies in every place where there is life. In fact, we are all competing to survive either by improving our qualities or cutting down the competition with others. The same theory applies to your body, too. In order to stay alive in the body system, probiotics produce certain chemicals that are fatal to invading microorganisms. Moreover, they stimulate the intestinal cells to act against the harmful microorganisms. In doing so, probiotics, as a part of their own survival efforts, bring beneficial changes in your immune function.
Probiotics regulate your body’s immune function.
Probiotics take charge of your immune response by interacting with the immune cells and activating the white blood cells to produce antibodies against external threats. Interestingly, probiotics can change your genes that regulate immune function, and affect the communication between immune cells.
Probiotics help to maintain a balance between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory chemicals.
For optimum health, the immune cells should know when to fire and when to stop. In essence, the delicate balance between necessary and excessive immune response is key to good health. Inflammation helps to repair a damaged cell and promotes healing. However, long-term inflammation has been associated with cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, allergies, asthma, and arthritis. Probiotics, with their unique interaction with the immune cells, help to reduce chronic inflammation while keeping the cells ready in the event of an acute external attack.
The Bottom Line
Let’s be clear, the common cold has no cure. You will get it in your life, and perhaps it’s a good thing.
Because the common cold is rarely serious, we may not give much attention to preventing it. But do you know frequent episodes of common cold account for more workday loss than any other non-serious condition? Thus, it is important to learn about the ways to prevent it.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, US, probiotics might help to prevent the common cold. This is in line with the result of a 2012 study conducted by researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
In the study, the researchers found that participants who took a probiotic supplement experienced:
A shorter duration of colds than those who did not take probiotics.
Significantly less severe cold symptoms.
Fewer missed school, or work days, and a higher quality of life.
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