Probiotics and Your Immune System

What have you heard about probiotics?  Have you heard of healthy bacteria or good bacteria?  Probiotics are live microorganisms (bacteria or yeast) and, when consumed in adequate amounts, they offer a health benefit within your digestive tract.  This is especially important because nearly three-quarters of your immune system is located in your digestive tract, so without enough healthy bacteria, your health may suffer as a result.  Probiotics provide an additional tool to help your body protect itself and enhance immune function.

Ideally, there should be a balance of approximately 80% healthy bacteria and 20% harmful bacteria in your intestines.

Even children can benefit from probiotics’ immune boosting effects.  In a very interesting study of children 3 to 5 years old, children who took a probiotic 2x/day from November to May with combined Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp lactis Bi-07 had 72% less fever, 62% less cough, and 59% less runny nose compared to children who didn’t take any probiotics!  What a drastic improvement!

If you decide probiotics are right for you, here are smart tips to help you make the right selection.

  • This is really important—not all probiotics are the same or equal.  Different species and strains of probiotics are used for different health concerns.  For basic healthy eating, all yogurts and their live, active cultures are fine.  But if you have a health problem, then the specific probiotic strain matters.
  • Probiotics should be ‘live’ which means they still work so look for the words “live and active cultures” on the food or supplement label.

In Health and Happiness,

Kelly Harrington, MS, RD

Nutritionist for Healthy Goods

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