Incorporating Probiotics Into Your Diet Can Help the Immune System
Lately, one of the most recognizable buzzwords in the health and wellness has been “probiotics”. Commonly available in yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and of course as a supplement, probiotics seem to be everywhere. But what exactly are the benefits of probiotic-rich foods and how do they help improve your immune system?
Probiotics are good, or beneficial bacteria that can be consumed through food or supplements and help to balance the ecosystem of the gut. When the gut is healthy, so is our ability to fight off colds and infections, maintain a more optimal weight and improve digestion (1). Some studies have shown that probiotics benefit overall immunity through a process of balancing B and T lymphocytes and antibodies within the body (2). B and T lymphocytes work together to eradicate invasive bacteria that could harm the body–B lymphocytes produce antibodies that attack harmful bacteria, toxins, and viruses, while T lymphocytes produce cells that destroy those which have become invaded by viruses or have become cancerous (3).
Eating foods rich in probiotics can contribute greatly to healthy digestion. Studies have shown that probiotics improve the absorption of many integral nutrients in the body such as iron, zinc, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and copper (4).
“Probiotic foods regulate the gut, reducing sugar and carb cravings and improving metabolism while decreasing the inflammatory toxins released by harmful bacteria,” Nick Angelis, CRNA, MSN and author of How to Succeed in Anesthesia School (And RN, PA, or Med School) said. “Indirectly, probiotic rich foods are natural stress relievers–the gut makes most of the serotonin in the body (feel-good neurotransmitter). That only happens if we have healthy bacteria working with our digestion and is important because stress exacerbates inflammation.”
Foods rich in probiotics include:
- Dark chocolate (try these probiotic-packed Cocoa Whey Brownies made with dark chocolate)
- Miso soup
- Soft cheeses
Incorporating probiotic supplements into your diet is a great way to ensure you’re getting the necessary nutrients to improve gut health. There are a variety of ways to work a supplement into your diet, like using Vital Proteins Collagen Whey, which offers 2B CFU of spore probiotic bacillus coagulans that support protein absorption and recovery, as well as 1,850mg of Madagascar vanilla beans that support healthy inflammation response.
“Supplements are an easy way to improve your gut flora,” said Angelis.
(1) Chapman, C. M. C., G. R. Gibson, and I. Rowland. “Health benefits of probiotics: are mixtures more effective than single strains?” European Journal of Nutrition 50.1 (2011): 1-17. Web.
(2) Macfarlane, G. T., and J. H. Cummings. “Probiotics and prebiotics: can regulating the activities of intestinal bacteria benefit health?” Bmj 318.7189 (1999): 999-1003. Web.
(3) “Lymphocytes – National Library of Medicine – PubMed Health.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.
(4) S Biradar, S Bahagvati, B Shegunshi. “Probiotics And Antibiotics: A Brief Overview.” The Internet Journal of Nutrition and Wellness. 2004 Volume 2 Number 1.