Probiotics for Immune Balance
The health of the entire body is dependent on a well-functioning digestive system.
Critical to this, is gut microflora; a healthy balance in gastrointestinal microbiota (good and bad bacteria) is essential for optimal human health.
Imbalances in gastrointestinal microflora, such as low levels of good bacteria or overabundance of bad bacteria, can impact on many aspects of health, including lowered immune function and impairment of the immune system.
Intestinal microflora levels are easily altered through stress, poor diet, infections and some types of medication.
Dysbiosis results when these flora levels are out of balance, increasing the risk of digestive disturbances, infection and disease.
Probiotics are often the first recommendation to correct this digestive imbalance.
The Bugs in Your Gut
With so many strains of probiotics available, it is important to know that not all possess the same benefits.
The therapeutic benefits provided by probiotics are specific to their species and strain, so the most appropriate probiotic species and strain must be used for each condition.
The figure below shows a brief outline of a probiotic family tree and categorisation of genus, species and strains.
Bugs to Boost Immunity
Certain bacteria are naturally found in the human digestive tract.
These have been shown to have supportive benefits by improving gut function and stimulating immunity, which in turn may increase resistance to infectious illnesses.
Trials using combinations of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 and Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 have demonstrated several quantifiable immune supporting effects including: enhancement of antibody response, and enhancement of natural killer (NK) cell function, with potential effects on resistance to infection and tumour growth, especially in the elderly.
Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM enhances immunity through moderating the expression of IL-10 and IFN-γ, which represent both the Th1 and Th2 pathways, and strongly inducting IL-12, a regulatory cytokine.
Immune Enhancing Probiotic utilises a combination of these probiotics to provide immune support in people with compromised immunity (auto-immune conditions) and recurrent infections.
Little Bugs Can Do Big Things
Probiotics act by replenishing levels of beneficial bacteria and inhibiting the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) transiently colonises the gastrointestinal tract and actively secretes antimicrobial substances to inhibit the growth of certain organisms.
It promotes antigen-specific immune responses, prevents intestinal permeability defects, and promotes the generation of the local secretory immune response.
LGG has protective effects on the gastric mucosa, enhancing its integrity (preventing leaky gut). Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) may be used to reduce the incidence of atopic dermatitis in infants, reduce the symptoms of eczema and allergies and to treat and prevent infectious diarrhoea.
Feed the Flora
Poor dietary choices are common culprits known to cause imbalance to our good microflora levels.
Diet is essential; it comes back to the old adage of ‘what we eat today, walks and talks tomorrow’. Ensuring we have adequate fibre within our diet is important for providing the fuel for microflora growth as well as promoting microflora growth.
Beneficial dietary fibre includes non-starch polysaccharides, cellulose, oligosaccharides, pectins, gums and waxes.
Oligosaccharides selectively promote the growth of probiotic bacteria, and improve the populations within the gastrointestinal tract. However, poor dietary choices such as the inclusion of sulphites, have been shown to increase the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut.
Diets that are high in simple sugars like cakes, sweets and chocolate may also affect bacterial flora levels.
To find out more about pre-biotics, click here.
Is Your Gut Stressed Out?
Stress has far-reaching consequences on our entire body and the gut is not exempt from these effects. Stress can affect the population of our bacterial colonies.
For example, it can induce changes within the gastrointestinal tract by inhibiting gastric acid release or motility changes.
Stress alter the environment within your digestive tract so that it becomes less hospitable to the survival of beneficial probiotics.
As most people are exposed to dietary and lifestyle factors that can easily affect bacterial balance, everyone would benefit from a daily probiotic.
Probiotics For Winter Wellness
Not all probiotics are created equal, and there are some that are more specific to certain conditions than others.
In order to survive the winter unscathed, tending to the little bugs in your gut is just as important as fending off the nasties in your nose.
Start with the seat of disease, the gut and improve the population of probiotic bacteria through supplementation, diet and reduction of stress.
Support your immunity so you can enjoy winter wellness.