(NaturalHealth365) In a common misconception, many people think of the flu as nothing more than a nuisance – an annoying cough-fest that can make one feel miserable, but does no real harm. In other words, nothing to worry about…right?
Actually, that’s wrong! Rather than being harmless, influenza can exact a deadly toll, particularly in older adults, very young children and those with compromised immune systems. Fortunately, recent research shows that oral probiotics can help boost immunity and fight off the flu and other respiratory infections.
ALERT: Flu season is coming – take action NOW to minimize your risk
If you remember, last year’s primary strain of flu – Influenza A H3N2 – struck with a vengeance.
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 a similar pattern.
And, they were somewhat right: with some states – such as Arizona and Missouri – displaying rates of seasonal influenza seven and eight times greater than the year before.
While influenza and pneumonia normally claim roughly 57,000 lives in the United States each year, the figure for the 2017-2018 season was greater. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza caused over 4,000 deaths during the third week of January 2018 alone – with the weekly tolls higher throughout last winter.
As expected, conventionally-trained medical ‘experts’ continue to promote the administration of the flu vaccine, natural health experts have concerns about the neurotoxic substances found inside the flu vaccine – as well as the overall ‘effectiveness’ of this medical procedure.
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. With the United States affected by the same viral strain, many researchers believed the same results would occur. (and, they were right!)
Please note: When it comes to the matter of whether or not to get a flu shot, it’s wise to arm yourself with as much information as possible before making this personal decision. Talk to a qualified, integrative physician – as soon as you can.
Decreased immune function in the elderly makes the 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 can accompany them.
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 such as, 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 number of common colds. And, for those who did get sick, the mixture reduced the severity of symptoms, causing a 22 percent decrease in the duration of colds 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
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.
The takeaway: natural health experts 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 become a medical statistic. Always be proactive when it comes to your own healthcare strategies.
Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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