Probiotics Learning Lab Impartially created by the experts at OptiBac

The immune system: what actually is it?

Put simply: your immune system is made up of several different areas in your body, working together to support you against threats including: physical injuries, toxins, pathogens and even stress!

But… did you know 70% of your entire immune system is based in your gut?

This means if you want to improve your immunity this season, you should probably start by supporting your gut health as a priority in your winter health regime. Introducing; a totally new way to tackle cold and flu season, starting with your gut…


Take on cold and flu season differently (and more successfully) this year


Good health starts in the gut

Now we know 70% of our immune system resides in the gut microbiome, let’s deep dive into what this really means.

If you have a healthy gut microbiome, then it will be filled mostly with good bacteria that provide a form of defence against ingested pathogens (bad bacteria and viruses). However, if your good gut bacteria aren’t fighting fit then you will be more at risk for picking up infections such as colds and flu.

Getting your good bacteria

There’s lots of ways you can increase your levels of good bacteria to optimise your gut health. These include everything from upping your fibre intake to getting a good night’s sleep. However, modern life doesn’t always allow us to squeeze all these healthy boosters into our day.

This is where probiotics come in. Designed to keep your gut microbiome healthy in an effective and easy way, probiotics create a barrier of good bacteria in the gut. Consequently, the probiotic bacteria help to support your immune system’s response to any nasty winter bugs we come into contact with in the office, on public transport or at home.

Ticking off all the ways to keep your gut in good shape can be tough. Probiotics are a quick win!

Finding the right probiotic for me

Probiotics come in lots of different shapes and sizes: yoghurts, fermented drinks like kombucha and most recently, supplements. With 1 in 3 Brits now taking a daily nutritional supplement, the probiotics industry is growing all the time, too. So how can we filter through the noise to find the right supplement to suit you, your gut and your immunity needs?

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that different probiotics do different things, depending on the strains of bacteria in them. In the world of probiotics, revolutionary research is conducted more and more to figure out which types of probiotic strains do what best. This long list of research includes – you guessed it – immunity!

A great example is a clinical trial conducted in 2018 which found that three strains of good bacteria – Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus casei 431® and one Lactobacillus fermentum PCC® – were found to be ‘effective for fighting the common cold and influenza-like respiratory infections’. Go gut health!


Can good bacteria help with cold and flu symptoms? The research says yes

Too late – I’ve already got a cold. What now?

With a pinch of luck, you’ve stumbled across this blog before coming down with a winter bug. If you’re in the coughing, sneezing camp already though, don’t lose hope. It’s never too late to start dosing up on good bacteria.

In fact, research shows that people who take probiotics experience colds that are two days shorter in duration, plus their symptoms are 34% less severe than those who don’t supplement with a good bacteria . So, whether you’re fit and healthy (and plan to stay that way), or you’re in need of some winter TLC, good bacteria can be a great way to start the day – and season – well.

Got the gut health bug? For more:

References

  1. Montalban-Arques A et al (2015) Selective Manipulation of the Gut Microbiota Improves Immune Status in Vertebrates, Frontiers in Immunology. 6:512
  2. Mintel, (2019). ‘D outshines C to become the UK’s favourite single vitamin supplement’. [Online] Available at: https://www.mintel.com/press-centre/social-and-lifestyle/d-outshines-c-to-become-the-uks-favourite-single-vitamin-supplement [Accessed 14 Oct. 2019]
  3. Zhang H et al., “Prospective study of probiotic supplementation results in immune stimulation and improvement of upper respiratory infection rate,” Synthetic and Systems Biology. 3(2): 113-120
  4. ScienceDaily. (2019). Probiotics are secret weapon for fighting symptoms of the common cold in college students, study suggests. [Online] Available at: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121022162335.htm [Accessed 10 Oct. 2019]

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