by Dr. Lawrence Hoberman
There are trillions of good bacteria in our bodies that help fight against diseases and viruses. Cold and flu season is here, and with it come additional stresses such as of lack of sleep, germs and fluctuating outside temperatures that can wreak havoc on our immune systems. This can also offset the balance of good versus bad bacteria that affects overall health. Fortunately, there are a few basic things a person to can do to prevent the onset of the flu, things like avoiding crowds, drinking lots of fluids, exercising regularly, getting a flu vaccine, washing hands often, getting at least seven hours of sleep each night, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.
However, there’s one more key step that could make the difference for you this flu season, and that would be to add a probiotic to your daily vitamin regimen.
Probiotics: Backed by Research
According to health studies published in the medical journal Pediatrics, the use of probiotics as a preventative health supplement shows to be effective as a preventative health supplement.
For example, one particular study divided healthy children ages 3-5 into three separate groups:
- Those receiving a placebo (104 participants)
- Those receiving a probiotic containing Lactobacillus acidophilus (110 participants)
- Those receiving a probiotic containing Lactobacillus acidophilus & Bifidobacteriumlactis (112 participants)
For the purposes of the study, each child received his or her supplement daily for six months under close cold and flu symptom scrutiny. At the end of the study, researchers found that when compared to the placebo groups, the other two participant groups had reduced flu-like symptoms, reduced antibiotic use and fewer days missed from school. Similar to the Pediatrics study, other studies performed on adults indicate similar findings, particularly in cases of upper respiratory infections.
Producing Immune Cells
Scientific outcomes conclude that probiotic supplements can stimulate the gastrointestinal tract to produce more immune cells. Those cells can then stop cold and flu inflammation before it becomes severe and attack viruses as they invade the lining of the respiratory tract.
Results like these highlight the importance of taking a daily oral probiotic supplement during flu season, particularly one containing the potent bacteria strain combination of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria in a serving size of 10 billion colonies or more.
Flu Shot Misconceptions
There are a number of misconceptions when it comes to flu shots. Here are a few, together with some solid health information:
The last time I had a flu shot, it made me sick. It’s not uncommon for the flu vaccine to make a person feel slightly unwell. Some people may develop temporary soreness or swelling where the shot was delivered, and some may have a low-grade fever that can last up to two days. However, these symptoms do not mean a person has the flu. The symptoms are actually the immune system actively building up cells to fight against the flu virus.
The last time I had a flu shot, I caught it anyway. Flu vaccines are made from an inactive or weakened virus that doesn’t make a person sick. The flu shot may take up to 14 days to effectively boost the immunity in your body.
I take vitamins. Isn’t that enough to keep the flu away? A daily vitamin regiment helps the body receive nutrients that the normal western diet does not provide, but vitamins alone are not enough to keep multiple strains of the flu virus from attacking the body.
Flu Shot Support
Once you get your annual flu shot, you may not realize that probiotics can give that flu protection an extra boost. A recent study showed taking a probiotic filled with multiple species of beneficial bacteria along with a flu shot can provide extra immune system support to stay healthy during the flu season. Studies in both the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2011) and the journal Immunity indicated that good gut bacteria provides additional immune support for those who receive flu vaccinations.
A properly working immune system is the best defense to fight against viruses and diseases. To keep the immune system in tip-top shape, there must be a healthy balance of good to bad bacteria in the gut. A regular probiotic supplement helps maintain that optimal balance of gut bacteria.
Dr. Lawrence Hoberman is a San Antonio-based board-certified gastroenterologist with more than 40 years experience practicing medicine. He is also the creator of EndoMune Advanced Probiotic. Frustrated by the lack of options to treat patients suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in the early 2000s, Dr. Hoberman collaborated with a Ph.D. microbiologist to identify a combination of bacteria that might work to destroy harmful bacteria living in the intestines and help improve and maintain the overall health of his patients. Dr. Hoberman is a member of the physician team at Health by Design in San Antonio. To learn more, visit www.endomune.com or www.healthbydesign.com.