Over the last several years, probiotics have become a buzzword in the health and wellness community. Health experts have been aware of the benefits of probiotics for years, but only recently did the information make it to the mainstream public. If you don’t already know about probiotics, now is the time to embrace them – especially with the threat of COVID-19 lurking in everyday life. Discover how probiotics positively benefit your overall health and immune system while offering potential protection from viruses and more.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are microorganisms living in the gut. They comprise the gut flora environment in the stomach and intestines and act as a primary line of defense against disease and illness. These microorganisms are bacteria that naturally thrive in the body. The environment in the gut is a delicate balance of several microorganisms, and gut flora is called a microbiome. The microbiome is like an ecosystem; each contributor is called a microbe. In this microbiome exists protozoa, fungi, viruses, yeast, and bacteria.
Many people have issues keeping healthy levels of microorganisms in place. In these instances, you can replenish your gut with probiotic foods and supplements. Many options on the market today help individuals control their gut health and prevent illness.
How Do Probiotics Work?
Probiotics enrich your gut flora and reinforce a healthy microbiome. When viruses and other harmful microorganisms enter the stomach, the good bacteria fight them off to help keep your immune system balanced. This mechanism also helps provide support against COVID-19. In fighting illness, these probiotics work to improve the mucus barrier in the gut and prevent bacteria from adhering to intestinal tissues.
These good pathogenic bacteria also work to prevent pneumonia, a primary cause of severe illness and even death. While probiotics aren’t a single solution preventative against catching COVID-19, they reduce the severity of the virus and boost your immune defenses to decrease the risk of infection. The two most common genera of probiotics are bifidobacteria and lactobacillus. Supplements provide these types and species, including lactic, breve, animalis, longum, acidophilus, and reuteri.
Taking Probiotics as a Tool for Fighting COVID-19
It’s necessary to take every measure to stay healthy and reduce the chances of acquiring and spreading diseases and viruses. One of the best strategies is to supplement the body with essential nutrients and probiotics daily. If you’re not taking a high-strain probiotic daily, now is the time to find a quality brand and make it part of your daily routine. When choosing your supplement.
Most top-quality brands include billions of probiotics in each dose. You may want to consider one with billions of CFUs (or live cultures) to get started. CFU stands for colony forming units and is the number of live bacteria (or microorganisms) in your probiotic formula—usually, the strain’s greater variety of the better.
Supporting Respiratory Health
The interconnected nature of the body’s systems is exemplified in the relationship between the respiratory and digestive tracts. Both systems share a microbiome – a community of bacteria that plays a crucial role in maintaining health. A dysfunction in the digestive system, such as an imbalance in gut bacteria, can have a cascading effect on respiratory health. This is due to the intricate way these systems communicate and influence each other’s functioning.
Recent evidence has highlighted the significant role of probiotics in this interplay between the digestive and respiratory systems. Probiotics, beneficial bacteria typically associated with gut health, have been found to extend their benefits beyond the digestive tract. They are capable of modulating the body’s immune response, which is a key factor in respiratory health. By maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut, probiotics can help regulate the body’s immune responses, potentially reducing the susceptibility to respiratory infections and even alleviating symptoms of existing respiratory conditions.
This regulatory effect of probiotics on the immune system is particularly important given that many respiratory conditions, such as asthma and allergies, are linked to immune system reactions. By influencing the immune system through the gut, probiotics can help create a more balanced and less reactive state, which is beneficial for respiratory health.
Incorporating probiotics into the diet through fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha, or through supplements, can therefore be a valuable strategy in supporting respiratory health. However, it’s essential to approach this as part of a broader health strategy. A balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoiding smoking and pollutants are critical for maintaining healthy respiratory function.
Overall, understanding and leveraging the connection between gut and respiratory health through probiotics and other healthful practices can be a key element in a comprehensive approach to maintaining and improving respiratory wellness.