Healthy guts help create healthy immune systems, which is critical during a pandemic.
The first time we heard the term “probiotics,” many of us thought it was a new droid in Star Wars, not a supplement for our guts. Probiotics have become more available and common in the past decade, as studies continue to prove their benefits.
While it’s natural to think of bacteria and other microorganisms as “germs” that can make you sick, many are actually helpful. The bacteria in probiotics serve the body by helping with digestion, destroying disease-causing cells and/or producing vitamins. And many of the microorganisms contained in probiotic products are the same or close to the same as those that live naturally in our bodies.
Probiotics can be found naturally in foods such as yogurt, or they can be taken as supplements. But, not all probiotics are the same. Different strains of bacteria have different effects.
How are Probiotics Helpful?
Probiotics have been shown to treat or prevent a wide range of conditions, including:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Crohn’s disease
- Vagial infections
- Urinary tract infections
Probiotics and the Immune System
Earlier this month, Governor Greg Abbott lifted the mask mandate for Texas and opened up all businesses to full capacity. Many businesses in Texas are still requiring masks, and many live performances are still on hold. Just as it has been for about a year now, our immune systems are under attack. The vaccination rates continue to be concerning, as variant strains of the virus are discovered.
Do probiotics help the immune system? Our gastrointestinal tracts are an immensely active microbiological ecosystem in themselves. Studies have shown that this “ecosystem” plays a vital role in the functioning of the immune system, as they induce a network of signals mediated by the bacteria.
In short, healthy guts help create healthy immune systems. Oppositely, unhealthy guts compromise the effectiveness of the immune system to function, which increases the risk of illnesses like common colds and the flu. While no studies have shown a direct link between probiotics and coronavirus, it is clear that the stronger your immune system, the better you are able to fight off viruses.
Certain strains of beneficial bacteria found in probiotics have been shown to reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms such as diarrhea, coughing and fever.