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Respiratory infections are serious business. We knew that long before COVID-19.Aft er all, even with the flu, the difference between a mild case and a serious one, possibly requiring hospitalization, is the development of pneumonia. Bronchitis also can start out as a mild issue that can escalate to pneumonia.
But there’s good news…
Researchers have identified one more thing to add to your immune-boosting arsenal if avoiding a respiratory infection is on your agenda.
And it’s all about beneficial bacteria.
Probiotic power fights Pneumonia bacteria
Yup, probiotics — the good bacteria that live in your body, keeping the balance, so that the bad bacteria that try to take up residence can’t also take over.
You see, it’s a well-known fact that the probiotics that live in your gut do the work of fighting off pathogens. In fact, for years scientists have been generating research proving that taking probiotics to replenish your good bacteria works to keep your gut and your immune system healthy.
But no one really knew if the healthy bacteria in your lungs also played a role of their own.
So researchers from the University of Geneva, Switzerland set out to correct that oversight. And in the process, they discovered an approach they say could “improve the clinical outcomes for patients who are susceptible to respiratory tract infections.”
Antimicrobials for your lungs
The team studied the role of lung microbiota against Pneumococcus colonization in mice. Pneumoccocus or S. pneumoniae is the bacteria that causes dangerous and even fatal cases of pneumonia.
Specifically, the researchers pitted a probiotic that is common to the lungs — Lactobacillus murinus — against the pathogenic, pneumonia-causing bacteria.
And they discovered that Lactobacillus isn’t just good for the lungs, it acts as an antimicrobial for lung tissue, basically scrubbing away and killing bad bacteria by releasing lactic acid.
And that’s not all…
The antibacterial power of Lactobacillus wasn’t limited to S. pneumoniae alone.
The probiotic was also able to protect against S. aureaus, a pathogen that can cause bloodstream (sepsis) and bone and joint infections, in addition to pneumonia.
The researchers say that altogether the results show that probiotics may offer an alternative treatment approach for bacterial lung infections, something that’s especially encouraging considering the increasing levels of antibiotic resistance.
Pumping up your probiotic protection
Lactobacillus murinus is also a predominant bacterium present in the gut — that is, a balanced healthy gut. That makes sense since the gut is the training ground for the immune system.
That’s why, in addition to the usual suspects, like vitamins C and D and zinc to boost your immune system, probiotics are a must.
Thanks to mountains of research into the vital importance of the body’s “system” of microbiomes — which extends from the mouth to the gut affecting various parts of the body — we know prebiotics and probiotics help to keep the good bacteria in balance.
Luckily, they’re easy to add to your daily regimen because they’re found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, even buttermilk, and of course supplements.
If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that boosting the body’s immune defenses is not a luxury, but a necessity.
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