Probiotics and immunity

13th March 2020 / Health

Probiotics and immunity

Emily Shannon

Let’s talk about our immune system. What really is it? We know it’s important to help us to fight coughs and colds, but how does it really help us in our everyday's lives and what is it really made up of? Well, our immune system is MASSIVELY important. In truth, we need it to work properly to keep us both happy and healthy! Our immune system is working in silence every second of every day, fighting off and killing pathogens (harmful bacteria and viruses), or as we like to call them ‘the bad guys’. If our immune system isn’t working at it’s best, then it leaves the body more susceptible to infections and diseases. But don’t worry, let’s keep it simple! We know there’s lots of different information floating around, but keeping your immune system in check might just be easier than you thought! Sound intriguing? Keep reading!


What is our immune system really made up of?


Let’s start by looking at the bigger picture. The immune system is made up of a large network of interconnected organs, cells and chemicals that help our bodies to fight infections. Key components of our immune system include white blood cells, antibodies, the lymphatic system (a network of tissues and organs that help to body get rid of toxins and waste material), the spleen and the thymus gland. All of these work together to tackle any foreign material that we may come into contact with. Not everything is going to be harmful - but our immune system helps to ‘screen’ bacteria, chemicals and viruses that we come into contact with every day. It decides whether or not it’s harmful, and you guessed it, destroys it if it’s going to cause harm, pretty amazing right?!

 

Supporting the immune system - what you need to know!


We need to nurture our immune system every single day. If we look after it, then it will look after us. But what’s the best way to do this? Well, believe it or not, the answer can be as simple as making sure you get plenty of sleep, eating plenty of immune-boosting fruit and veggies, managing your stress levels and ditching the sugar! BUT, if you do really want to give your immune system that little bit extra, there is something else that has been shown to support immunity - and that’s taking a probiotic! 


You may have heard about taking a daily probiotic for keeping other parts of your body in top working order, but gut health and immunity really do go hand in hand. Don’t just take our word for it! With 70% of the immune system actually located within the gut - you can see that keeping good gut health is key in the immunity puzzle.


Gut health and immunity - the perfect partners!


As we’ve said, when it comes to immunity, nourishing the gut and our immune system go hand in hand - let’s just say they’re the perfect partners! Eating lots of plant-based foods, including some fermented foods and drinks daily, keeping stress to a minimum and getting regular exercise are all things that are proven to support gut health; but what about probiotics. How do they actually help?



Probiotics and immunity - let’s talk science!


Whilst it’s important to remember that a healthy, balanced diet, powered by plants alongside regular exercise is never a substitute for any probiotic - probiotics alongside these things can really help to give us an immunity boost! But how? Well, the beneficial bacteria that are found in probiotics help to increase the diversity of bacteria within our gastrointestinal tract (AKA the gut!). A rich, diverse bacterial community has been shown to support our immune system, and reduce the risk of being struck down by any invading nasties. When we nourish our gut bacteria, our immune system becomes balanced. Our white blood cells and antibodies that are key players in destroying harmful bacteria, are ready just at the right moment!


Not only that, a diverse bacterial community within the gut has been shown to increase and stimulate the production of specific immune cells (particularly white blood cells) that are integral for a speedy immune response. A healthy microbial community has been shown to improve the communication between our immune cells, target inflammation and improve barrier function. What this really means is, supporting the good guys in the gut, helps up fight off any invading bad guys!

 

Specific strains - why choose our Synbiotic 7


Specific bacterial strains are good for different things, so this means there are some that are particularly beneficial for the immune system. Our Synbiotic 7 contains 7 carefully selected bacterial strains with 40 billion live cultures inside each capsule. But how do our strains stack up for immunity? Well, you’ll be pleased to know that we’ve included several key strains that help to support the immune system. A couple of our favourites include Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus plantarum. Lactobacillus acidophilus has been shown to upregulate genes that mediate immune responses and support viral defence, it sounds complicated, but the most important thing is that this helps to enhance the immune system. The second strain, Lactobacillus plantarum has been shown to stimulate the production of interleukins, which are specific glycoproteins that are integral for immune defence. We’re not sure about you, but we find the powers of these bacteria pretty extraordinary! If you want to find out more about our Synbiotic 7, head over to the product page here.


Keeping our immune system healthy isn’t something that happens overnight, it’s important to remember that we need to keep it in mind each and every day. You can head over to our blog on ‘building a robust immune system’ for a few top tips on boosting immunity and some of our favourite immune-boosting foods! You can find the blog here.