Probiotics For Colds & Flus
Respiratory viruses, such as influenza, afflict a substantial proportion of the global population annually, causing significant morbidity and mortality.
Despite the availability of antiviral drugs and vaccines, respiratory infections continue to pose a formidable public health challenge.
In recent years, the role of the gut microbiome in immune function has gained considerable attention, with probiotics emerging as a promising avenue for enhancing host defenses against infectious agents.
This guide will share the potential mechanisms by which probiotics exert their immunomodulatory effects and confer protection against the common cold.
What is Influenza?
Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory virus that has the ability to infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Unlike a cold, which may be caused by either a virus or bacteria, the flu is exclusively viral in nature. As such, antibiotics are ineffective in treating a flu infection.
How A Cold or Flu Starts
- 1The transmission of the flu virus typically begins when an infected person expels infectious droplets into the air.
- 2These droplets may be inhaled by a non-infected individual.
- 3This person may experience symptoms such as a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, and low or high fever.
- 4Sore throat.
- 5Low or High Fever.
- 6Person recovers.
How Do Probiotics Help?
Probiotics have gained increasing attention in recent years due to their potential health benefits. These live microorganisms are found in various fermented foods and supplements and can provide a range of benefits for the human body, particularly in terms of gut health. Research has shown that probiotics may also be able to support the immune system and help protect against the common cold and influenza viruses.
In a study conducted in Wisconsin, USA in 2009, probiotic supplementation was shown to have a positive impact on influenza symptoms such as coughing, fever, and rhinorrhea in children aged 3-5 years old.
The study recruited 326 children and split them into three groups, with one group taking a placebo, the second taking Lactobacillus acidophilus, and the third taking a combination of L. Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium Lactis bacteria. During the 6-month study period, children who took either one or two probiotic strains had fewer cold symptoms, missed fewer days of school, and used fewer antibiotics.
While this study focused on children, the results could potentially be similar for adults taking probiotic supplements. Probiotics may help to prevent cold and flu by strengthening the intestinal wall, making it harder for viruses and bacteria to grow and multiply. This is particularly important as a significant portion of the immune system is based in the gut.
One specific probiotic strain, Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, has been studied for its ability to stimulate Secretory Immunoglobulin A (sIgA). This is the first line of defense against enteric toxins and pathogenic microorganisms and functions in mucosal immunity. These findings suggest that probiotics may offer a promising avenue for reducing the incidence and severity of respiratory infections, including the common cold and flu.
Probiotics For Stomach Flu
Probiotics have been the subject of extensive research, with many studies examining their potential health benefits. One area where probiotics may be helpful is in the treatment of stomach viruses or gastroenteritis, which can last for up to 14 days.
Unlike bacterial infections, antibiotics are not effective against viral gastroenteritis. However, some doctors may recommend probiotics as a possible treatment. Studies have suggested that probiotics may help shorten the length of time someone experiences diarrhea caused by a stomach virus, but more research is needed to confirm these findings.
It's important to talk to your doctor before using probiotics for a stomach virus, as they can advise you on the best course of treatment for your individual situation. While probiotics may have potential benefits for gastroenteritis, it's always important to seek medical advice before trying any new treatments.
Why People Get Sick In The Winter More Often
During the winter season, individuals are more susceptible to infections due to several reasons. Firstly, viruses tend to replicate and spread more efficiently in cold, dry weather conditions, providing a favorable environment for viruses to thrive.
Additionally, during colder months, individuals tend to spend more time indoors, which increases the risk of exposure to infectious agents, particularly in poorly ventilated spaces. This increased proximity and contact can contribute to higher transmission rates of respiratory viruses.
Furthermore, the immune system may experience additional stress during the winter months due to reduced blood flow to the extremities, which can impair immune function.
The lack of sun exposure can also make it difficult for the body to produce adequate levels of vitamin D, which is essential for maintaining immune system health. Overall, these factors can increase the likelihood of developing infections during the winter season.
More Than 70% Of Immunity Is In The Gut
Dr. Sara Mesilhy a Gastroenterologist on ProbioticReviewGirl's medical team previously shared that the gut "contains 80% of the immune system; starting from the saliva, stomach acids, and lastly, the beneficial microbiota it contains, which prevent other harmful bacteria from invading our body."
In the Netherlands, it has been reported that a significant proportion of immune cells, ranging from 70% to 80%, can be found in the gut where probiotic bacteria reside. The intestinal microbiota is linked to the mucosal immune system and intestinal epithelial layer, making it a key area to focus on if you aim to enhance your immune system.
To support your gut microbiome and improve your immune function, it is advisable to consume foods rich in probiotic bacteria. At the same time, it is important to avoid foods that contribute to inflammation and harm the gut, such as those that contain high levels of sugar, processed foods, fried foods, and excessive alcohol consumption.
Vitamins For Colds
Vitamin D and zinc are considered especially important for protecting against the common cold. A study found that these vitamins may reduce the severity of cold symptoms.
During the winter when there is less sunlight, taking a Vitamin D supplement is recommended. Furthermore, the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus Reuteri has been shown to increase Vitamin D absorption by 25.5%.
Closing Thoughts: Probiotics Can Help
Scientific studies have demonstrated that maintaining a healthy gut is crucial for enhancing overall immunity and protecting oneself against the flu. To achieve this, one should limit inflammation, consume probiotics and prebiotics daily, and ensure adequate vitamin intake. Additionally, it is important to wash one's hands frequently after touching public surfaces.
It should be noted that taking probiotics after contracting the flu may not be particularly effective. Probiotics appear to work better as a preventive measure rather than a cure, and it takes time to improve gut health. A good way to obtain daily probiotics is by consuming kefir milk for breakfast. Antibiotics may not be the best treatment option for colds and flu since they can harm the beneficial bacteria in the gut.