How You Can Boost Your Immunity with Probiotics
Immunity refers to the body’s ability to prevent the invasion of microorganisms that can potentially cause disease. While boosting your immunity is easier said than done, adopting a few new dietary and lifestyle habits can greatly enhance your body's natural defences and ultimately fight against disease-causing micro-organisms.
One habit you can implement today to boost your immunity is supplementing with probiotics.
In this article you can find:
- What exactly is immunity?
- What are probiotics?
- How do probiotics help boost your immunity?
- What probiotics should you take?
What exactly is immunity?
Immunity is the term for a type of immune system response where specialised cells and parts of the immune system provide the body with protection against disease and infection. It does this by keeping a record of every detrimental micro-organism it has fought against previously, so it can quickly kill the germ if it re-enters the body again.
The immune system is located throughout the body, however approximately 70% is found in the gut. Thus, a healthy gut is vital for a strong immune system.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are a combination of live beneficial bacteria and/or yeasts (a type of fungi) that are naturally found within the body. They are part of the human microbiome, the collective of micro-organisms found within the human body. The collective of micro-organisms found within the gut is referred to as the gut microbiome. The human’s gut microbiome is not only comprised of bacteria and fungi, bur also various viruses and protozoa. Everyone’s microbiome and microbial cells is unique to them, even identical twins.
How do probiotics help boost your immunity?
Supplementing with probiotics help colonize the gut with good microorganisms. This benefits the body by fighting off detrimental micro-organisms by preventing them from over growing and competing with them for space and nutrients. They even produce different acids to lower the pH of our gut, making it unfavourable for harmful micro-organisms to live there. While we can tolerate a certain percentage of harmful micro-organisms within the gut, having too much can potentially cause disease. Even having just an imbalance of harmful bacteria in the gut can cause the immune system to get confused and begin attacking its own cells, even if it is healthy cell, making it a lot easier for the body to get sick, and a lot harder to recover. This is what is known as gut dysbiosis.
Supplementing with probiotics reduces this risk, since they help colonize the gut with beneficial bacteria, restoring gut microbe balance.
What probiotics should I take?
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the most popular probiotic supplements. Other common kinds are Saccharomyces, Streptococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia, and Bacillus. Many probiotic supplements contain a combination of different strains in the same supplement. These types of supplements are referred to as broad-spectrum probiotics or multi-pro-biotics. Studies suggest that some strains are more effective than others for treating certain conditions. Therefore, it is important to inform your GP if you are/wish to start taking a probiotic to achieve specific effects.
Pro-biotics are generally measured in colony-forming units (CFU). Most studies indicate that higher doses provide individuals with better results. Nevertheless, some probiotics have shown to be effective at doses as low as 1–2 billion CFU per day.
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