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How to improve, boost, and even supercharge the immune system is one of the hottest topics on people’s minds. After all, the pandemic has rightly brought about a renewed interest in taking proactive steps to avoid the worse before it happens.
As they say, prevention is the best medicine. And one of the most promising ways to avoid illness is to shore up your immune system by promoting a healthy and balanced gut microbiome. By far the easiest way to do that is with probiotics.
Scientists have known for a while now about the far-reaching impact gut bacteria have on our health.
Now, after an extensive review that included 58 individual scientific studies, there’s new evidence that taking probiotics could help us avoid viral respiratory tract infections (RTIs).
The role of your gut microbiome
Essentially, the job of probiotics is to maintain a healthy balance within your gut microbiome.
You see, your gut is teeming with colonies of bacteria — some good and some bad.
As long as you keep a healthy balance of the good versus the bad bacteria, your health is in pretty good shape. In fact, a healthy microbiome has been linked to a reduced risk of everything from autoimmune to heart disease to even dementia.
But as you can imagine, when that balance tips in the wrong direction, your health can swiftly become endangered, including your immune system.
And that’s where probiotics come in.
Probiotic potential against RTIs
That’s because your gut balance could also play a role in whether or not you end up with a viral respiratory tract infection, and if you do how severe it is.
In fact, that systematic review published in the European Journal of Nutrition delved into the results of 58 studies — nine in humans and 49 in animals — was the first systematic review to “report the role of gut microbiota manipulation on the risks and outcomes of viral RTIs (respiratory tract infections.”
So what did the research show?
It found that in humans, modulating the makeup of the gut microbiota may help prevent RTIs.
And the animal studies showed that taking probiotics prior to a viral infection could help to improve outcomes, including:
- Improving infection-induced survival
- Mitigating symptoms
- Decreasing viral load
- Boosting immunity against the infection
Leveraging probiotic power
So if you want an additional layer of protection between yourself and respiratory viruses, probiotics could be an important part of your strategy. But don’t wait till you’re sick to take them. Based on the majority of the studies, the best preventative effects appeared when probiotics were taken prior to exposure.
You can find healthy probiotics in:
- Supplements made with Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and others
Taking antibiotics is one of the quickest ways to create dysbiosis—an imbalance of the microbiome. That means in addition to fortifying your diet with probiotics, remember to take antibiotics only when necessary. Antibiotics are not helpful against viral infections.
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