The cold and flu season is not one that any of us want on our calendar this year. When your immune system is strong, healthy and functioning optimally, your body works to fight off illness and disease. Let’s look at what affects our ability to ward of illness and how probiotics are essential to our well-being.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live, beneficial bacteria present in the digestive (GI) tract. Probiotics are often referred to as “good” or “friendly” bacteria in the gut because it assists the body in proper digestion, detoxification, immune support, energy production and other important functions.
The word “probiotics” literally means “for life.” The prefix “pro” is derived from the Latin preposition which means “for.” “Biotic” is a Greek word which means “life.”
How Probiotics Increase Immune Function
The digestive tract is one of the largest disease fighting, immune systems in your body. Beneficial bacteria in the colon enhances the production of disease-fighting white blood cells. In addition, probiotics produce a barrier, like a protective shield preventing harmful bacteria from attaching to and being absorbed by the colon walls. So it’s no wonder that a healthy gastrointestinal tract (digestive system) rich in probiotics greatly impacts our ability to ward off illness.
What Affects the Body’s Ratio of Good-to-Bad Bacteria?
Chronic emotional stress, a poor diet, and environmental toxins such as chlorine in the water, and other chemicals you breathe or ingest, weakens the immune system making you susceptible to illness. Prescription antibiotics cannot differentiate between good and bad bacteria. When you take antibiotics, not only does it kill harmful, illness causing bacteria, but it also kills the good bacteria in the GI tract. If you’ve taken antibiotics, it is especially important to reintroduce health enhancing probiotics back into your system to boost immune function.
How to Increase Probiotics in Your Diet
Besides those present in the digestive system, probiotics can be added to the body daily through the consumption of fermented foods or supplements. To promote healthy immune function consume cultured or fermented sour foods at least once a day. As you’ll read, cultures around the world have long enjoyed the flavor and benefits of eating fermented foods.
Probiotic foods containing live beneficial bacteria help balance gut flora, and improve immune function. These foods include:
About the Author:
Deborah Tukua is the editor of Journey to Natural Living and the author of the healthy, fresh from the blender recipe book, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. Deborah is a freelance writer for the Farmers' Almanac and Chiropractic Economics magazine and author of the book, Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success.
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