As the season changes, everyone needs to think about warding off cold and flu viruses. Some of the common health care strategies used to keep the flu at bay are taking flu shots and ensuring that you wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. But this is not all – there is another effective weapon that you can add to your ‘Fight the Flu’ arsenal. Foods and supplements that support gut health can go a long way when it comes to helping you resist the flu this season. Beneficial bacteria or probiotics keep your digestive process in balance and also, play an important role in reducing your chance of contracting a cold or the flu.
Fight the Flu
On average, up to 20% of the population of the United States suffers from the flu every year. Adults get a cold 2-3 times a year, and children suffer from even more instances of this common illness. Symptoms include sore throat, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, headaches, and body pain. Though most people recover within 7-10 days, colds remain one of the most common reasons for people to miss work and school days. Flu symptoms are similar but more severe and can also include fever.
Those who have weak immune systems or pre-existing conditions like asthma are at a higher risk of developing severe illnesses like pneumonia or bronchitis. There are a few influenza viruses that you can protect yourself from with the help of vaccines like the trivalent or quadrivalent flu vaccine. However, even these vaccinations take a couple of weeks to produce antibodies that can fight the flu in an adult body. In a meta-analysis clinical trials, it was seen that probiotics and prebiotics are effective in elevating immune response in adults who received with flu vaccines. (1)
Whether or not you choose to get vaccinated prior to flu season, there are a few ways to tweak your diet and lifestyle so you can resist the flu this year.
- Get your Vitamin D level up. Studies show that there is a connection between blood Vitamin D levels and the probability of coming down with respiratory infections like cold and flu. Eat foods with high Vitamin D content or choose a supplement to fulfill this deficit.
- Improve the functioning of your immune system by avoiding or reducing the amount of sugar you consume, getting adequate sleep, adding omega-3 fats to your diet, and washing your hands frequently.
- Perhaps the most important way to resist the flu this season is by bolstering your gut microbiome so friendly bacteria can thrive in your body. This can be done by eating a healthy diet, incorporating more fermented foods, and taking a probiotic supplement, especially one that has targeted strains to support the immune system.
Prepare Your Gut With Probiotics
Approximately 100 trillion bacteria and other microbes reside in your gut and intestine area. They form your gut microbiota which plays a pivotal role in strengthening your immunity. In order for bad bacteria and viruses to wreak havoc in your body, they have to take hold. A healthy immune system fights hard to keep these illness-causing microbes from doing that. If your gut microbiota is weak and sparsely populated with probiotic bacteria, your system will shine like a beacon to organisms that cause both major and minor illnesses like cold and flu.
Your gut microbiota is shaped at the time of your birth and is influenced by everything you eat as well as the environment you live in. What you put into your body can change your microbiota for better or worse. In order to have a healthy gut brimming with friendly bacteria and a strong immune system, you need to eat the right foods. This is where probiotics come in.
Food items or probiotic supplements that are full of friendly, live bacteria or probiotics help maintain your digestive balance. Probiotics can be found in fermented food products such as dairy-based kefir, cheese, yogurt, and buttermilk, and non-dairy foods like kombucha tea, tempeh, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh.
How Probiotics Can Help Fight the Flu
According to the Cochrane Collaboration report of 2011, the analysis of several previous studies showed that probiotics worked to effectively reduce colds, flu, and other acute upper respiratory tract infections. (2) Probiotics are especially important for those who have been prescribed antibiotics to fight off other illnesses. Antibiotics are powerful drugs that are designed to kill the bacteria that are causing the illness. However, one of the unfortunate side effects is that they simultaneously kill the good bacteria in your gut, too. This often causes antibiotic-related diarrhea, cramping, and digestive tract issues. Probiotic supplements aid in getting your digestive health back on track.
Along with stopping pathogenic bacteria from taking hold inside your body, probiotics also help resist seasonal colds and flu by helping your body create specific vitamins that fight off these viruses. Good bacteria in your gut tries to neutralize any pathogenic virus. They also form a barrier around the lining of your intestine to stop the virus from passing into your bloodstream and proliferating from there. If neither method works, the beneficial bacteria in your gut uses the gut-brain-axis to communicate with your immune system so the virus can be neutralized by your body’s natural processes at the earliest.
Choosing the Right Probiotics
With so many products highlighting their probiotic content being sold alongside multiple supplements, choosing the right probiotic for you may seem like a daunting process. Before you pick one, ensure that the supplement offers a high dose of live bacterial cultures in every serving, with a number of probiotic strains, and has an effective delayed-release delivery system to combat your stomach acids.
LoveBug Probiotics supplemental tablets are designed to protect and nurture the health of your whole family. The Colds Suck supplement is formulated to support immunity and is enhanced with vitamins and minerals like zinc, Echinacea, and Vitamin C that help fend off cold and flu. The proprietary blend of four live probiotic strains is delivered via a patented delivery technology called BIO-tract® that makes give them 15x more survivability than other probiotic capsules in the market. Give your loved ones the LoveBug advantage so you can resist the flu this season, and live your healthiest life.
- Lei, WT, PC Shih, SJ Liu, CY Lin, and TL Yeh. “Effect of Probiotics and Prebiotics on Immune Response to Influenza Vaccination in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Nutrients 9, no. 11 (2017): 1175. doi: 10.3390/nu9111175.
- Kang, EJ, SY Kim, IH Hwang, and YJ Ji. “The effect of probiotics on prevention of common cold: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trial studies.” Korean Journal of Family Medicine 34, no. 1 (2013): 2-10. doi: 10.4082/kjfm.2013.34.1.2.