by 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 offset the balance of good versus bad bacteria that affects overall health.
There are things a person can do to help prevent the onset of the flu:
- Avoid crowds
- Drink lots of fluid
- Exercise regularly
- Get the flu vaccine
- Wash hands often
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
- Get at least seven hours of sleep per night
- Sneeze or cough into the elbow rather than the hand
- Another key step would be to add a probiotic to one’s daily vitamin regimen. Studies from The Journal of Pediatrics show that use of probiotics is an effective preventative health supplement.
One particular study divided healthy children ages 3 through 5 into three separate groups: those receiving a placebo; those receiving a probiotic containing lactobacillus acidophilus; and those receiving a probiotic containing lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium lactis.
Each child received their supplement daily for six months under close cold and flu symptom scrutiny. After 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, studies performed on adults indicate similar findings, particularly in cases of upper respiratory infections.
Scientific outcomes conclude 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 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.
Boost the Flu Shot with a Probiotic
While some people routinely receive the flu vaccine, the other school of thought is that the flu vaccine does not work because it is likely a person will contract the flu regardless of whether or not the vaccine was received.
There are valid reasons why some people should not get the flu vaccine. For some, the vaccine is linked to severe allergies in the vaccine ingredients. Other reasons may include age restrictions, problems with Guillain-Barre syndrome or the current state of a person’s health.
Before risking the health of the family this flu season, it’s important to address flu shot misconceptions with solid health information:
“The flu shot can make me sick.” It’s not uncommon for the flu vaccine to make a person feel slightly ill. Some people develop temporary soreness or swelling where the flu shot was delivered. Other reactions may include a low-grade fever. These symptoms do not mean a person has the flu. The symptoms are actually the immune system 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 immunity.
“I never get sick, so I can’t spread the flu.” A person’s individual immunity and hygiene habits have nothing to do with whether they are responsible for spreading the flu virus. It can be spread from personal contact from other people such as shaking hands.
“Aren’t taking vitamins enough?” A daily vitamin regimen is important to receive nutrients not provided through the typical Western diet, but vitamins alone cannot keep multiple strains of the flu virus from attacking the body.
It’s important to consider getting the flu vaccine and adding a probiotic to the daily diet. A Harvard Medical School study shows taking a probiotic filled with multiple species of beneficial bacteria, along with a flu shot, could provide the extra boost to the immune system to stay healthy during flu season.
A properly working immune system is the best defense against viruses and diseases, but in order to keep the immune system in proper working order; there must be a healthy balance of good to bad bacteria in the gut. To achieve that, the use of a probiotic is recommended. The Western diet is mostly absent of providing good bacteria, and taking a probiotic supplement is vital to boost the effectiveness of the flu vaccine and to help support the immune system.
San Antonio gastroenterologist Dr. Lawrence Hoberman is the creator of EndoMune Advanced Probiotic. For more information, call 210-862-2138.