(Naturalhealth365) In a common misconception, many people think of a common cold or flu as nothing more than a ‘nuisance.’ An annoying cough-fest with body aches and chills. In other words, nothing too serious, right?
Well, not really. But, that’s not to say we should live in fear of these infections either. The reality is – for immune-compromised people – a bacterial or viral infection can be life-threatening. And, for everyone else, it’s just a clear sign that our immune system is being stressed to the max!
Thankfully, although many people remain uneducated about this, research reveals how probiotics can help boost immune function and a resistance to the common cold or flu.
Arm yourself with the truth and don’t let the common cold or flu put you down
Remember last year’s primary strain of flu called, influenza A H3N2? It struck with a vengeance and Western medicine was sounding the alarm.
An unusually severe 2017 flu season in Australia – in which H3N2 was also the primary strain – tipped researchers off to the probability that the U.S. would follow the same pattern. In fact, some states like, Arizona and Missouri displayed rates of seasonal influenza seven and eight times greater than 2016.
Depending on which public health organization you listen to: influenza and pneumonia normally claim between 36,000 to 57,000 lives in the U.S. – each and every year. Although those numbers are somewhat inaccurate – because the true cause of death is usually triggered by other health issues.
In addition, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza caused over 4,000 deaths during the third week of January 2018 alone.
Obviously, we don’t want you to become a medical statistic – which is why it pays to find out how to keep your immune system strong, throughout the year.
Do conventional medical procedures really help us protect our health?
Conventionally-trained medical authorities continue to push for the administration of flu vaccines. But, natural health experts have consistently expressed their concerns about the neurotoxic metals used as ‘adjuvants’ in the flu vaccine.
What more details? Look at this previous NaturalHealth365 article about aluminum in vaccines.
And, let’s not forget the other 800 pound gorilla in the room – flu shots are highly ineffective.
In fact, according to a recent article published in New England Journal of Medicine, last year’s flu vaccine was found to be only 10 percent effective in Australia. In the U.S., it’s not much better.
Note: When it comes to the matter of whether or not to get a flu shot, it’s always better to arm yourself with as much information as possible before making this deeply personal healthcare decision.
So, when is a common cold or flu life-threatening?
Decreased immune function in the elderly makes a cold or flu particularly dangerous
Declining immune function – also known as immune senescence – puts older adults at particular risk for influenza and other viral infections, along with serious complications that accompany a common cold.
In an article published in Frontiers of Immunology, the authors report that influenza is a leading cause of catastrophic disability in older adults – and can be life-threatening. The researchers noted that the flu can also raise the risk of potentially fatal secondary infections like, pneumonia.
Normally, antibodies – known collectively as secretory IgA, and found in the mucous membranes of the nose and upper respiratory tract – have the ability to deactivate viruses and bacteria, thereby providing first-line defense against viruses.
In older people, however, production of IgA can be compromised – along with the function of other immune cells such as natural killer cells, macrophages and neutrophils.
The disturbing fact is: 90 percent of flu-related deaths involve people over 65 years old.
Clearly, anything that can increase the secretion of beneficial IgA is desirable. As it turns out, probiotics seem to be able to do just that.
Probiotics significantly reduce the risk of upper respiratory infections
In a placebo-controlled clinical trial involving 250 participants and published in Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, researchers tested a cocktail of 5 different strains of probiotic bacteria against the flu.
The team found that the mixture drastically reduced the incidence of both colds and influenza, with the placebo group experiencing 16 episodes of flu –as compared to 3 in the probiotic group.
In other words, those who didn’t take probiotics were over four times more likely to develop influenza!
The oral probiotic mixture also caused a 35 percent reduction in the rate of common cold infections. For those who did get sick, the mixture reduced the severity of symptoms, causing a 22 percent decrease in the duration of a common cold and a 39 percent decrease in the duration of coughs.
In an additional study, the probiotic cocktail had even more dramatic results.
Researchers found that the mixture caused a very substantial 48 percent decrease in the number of flu cases, and decreased the number of days with flu symptoms by an impressive 55 percent.
The addition of a sixth strain further stimulates immune response
Want to stop the common cold? Think about boosting immune system strength.
The probiotics cocktail included bacterial strains that had previously been found to support intestinal health, including two different forms of Lactobacillus plantarum, two forms of Lactobacillus rhamnosis, and one form of Bifidobacterium lactis.
In further studies, researchers found that the addition of yet another strain of bacteria, Bacillus subtilis CU1, worked particularly well to stimulate immune response in older adults who were at risk for respiratory infections.
The team noted that B.subtilis produced antimicrobials, stimulated the immune system to secrete IgA , and promoted healthy gut bacteria.
In one French clinical trial involving 100 adults aged 60 to 74 years old, participants received either 2 billion microorganisms per day of B. subtilis or an inactive placebo. Researchers found that the probiotics group experienced a drop in lower respiratory infections that was statistically significant – along with a 45 percent increase of IgA in saliva.
Noting that B. subtilis was safe and well-tolerated during repeated consumption by healthy elderly subjects, the team endorsed it as suitable for use as a probiotic ingredient.
Integrative healthcare providers have long recommended probiotics to support the health of the gut microbiome – which contains over 70 percent of the immune system. With the latest studies, researchers are discovering the ability of probiotics to help protect against respiratory infections, colds and influenza as well.
Don’t let the coming winter season get you down or afraid, experience the health benefits of probiotics today.
Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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