The bad news this time of year is that the average adult suffers from two to four colds each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and kids catch even more. Children catch the flu about once every two years, and adults come down with the flu about twice every ten years.
The good news is that you can reduce your risk of getting sick by taking some preventative steps. Good hand washing habits reduce your risk for catching the flu, for example, while rest and good nutrition can help your body stay as healthy as possible. Probiotics can also be an effective part of your health strategy during cold and flu season.
While probiotics cannot cure a cold or flu, they can support your immune system in ways that reduce your risk of getting sick from these contagious illnesses. Strategic Probiotic Supplementation, can help support your good health throughout cold and flu season.
COLD AND FLU PROTECTION BEGINS IN YOUR GUT
Nearly 2500 years ago, Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” Centuries of medical advances have shown that diseases start in all parts of the body, of course, but years of research show that immunity from many infectious diseases does indeed begin in the gut.
Trillions of bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms inhabit the gut, known collectively as the human microbiota. Some of the components of the microbiota are unhealthy pathogens. Many of the bacteria living in your gastrointestinal tract are beneficial. The beneficial bacteria are known as probiotics.
You may already know that probiotics support healthy digestion by helping to prevent and treat imbalances in your gut ecosystem, and help improve the health of your microbiota so that there are fewer harmful bacteria living there. Studies show that probiotics can improve mood, reduce cholesterol, and even ease symptoms of eczema in children.
You may not know that probiotics can support your immune system in ways that reduce the risk of cold and flu. Your digestive tract contains a large number of immune cells. In fact, as much as 80 percent of the immune cells in your body are in your gut. These immune cells help protect the inside of your body from harmful pathogens, such as cold and flu viruses, living outside your body.
Your gut is a main route of contact between your body and the outside world. Depending on your diet, you may take in millions or even billions of microbes in just a day’s worth of food. Some of these microbes are beneficial probiotics, while other microbes can cause severe illness.
The lining of your gastrointestinal tract has the complex job of absorbing only beneficial nutrients and water from the food you eat, and blocking out toxins and infectious agents that might also be there. Probiotics help promote the creation of new cells, so that this barrier remains strong.
Probiotics also help your body kill cold and flu viruses and other pathogens in other ways. Beneficial bacteria can starve out pathogens by gobbling up all the nutrients in food, for example, and the probiotics can crowd out unhealthy bacteria.
SCIENCE SHOWS PROBIOTICS CAN HELP YOU AVOID FEELING SICK FROM COLD AND FLU SYMPTOMS
Research shows probiotics can help prevent flu and reduce symptoms. One study showed probiotics protected mice from pneumonia. Another study in humans showed a 12-week course of probiotics could reduce the risk of catching a cold and decrease the severity of symptoms.
A New Zealand study of 30 professional ruby players showed probiotics enhanced the athletes’ ability to ward off and fight colds. Research shows probiotics could prevent upper respiratory tract infections better than placebos. A scientific review shows probiotics can help kids avoid colds. Another study shows probiotics can reduce the number of colds children catch.
For best results, start your probiotics before cold and flu season begins, and continue taking probiotics throughout the year. Routine use of probiotics can help you avoid feeling ‘sick as a dog’ this year.