Do Probiotics Help the Immune System?

Now that people are paying more attention to their gut health, the interest in probiotics is increasing. We now know that poor gut health can cause allergies, affect your mood, and, more importantly, lower your immunity.

So what can probiotics do for gut health and, in turn, your overall well-being? Let's find out.

Probiotics and Their Benefits

Probiotics are made up of live bacteria that can promote the quality and growth of good bacteria in your gut flora. They also decrease the population of harmful bacteria in your gut, while restoring the natural levels of good bacteria in your digestive system. So overall, it can bring balance to this very important ecosystem in our bodies.

The restoration of the bacteria levels in your gut microbiome will not only improve your digestive health, it can also bring profound effects to your overall health. Research has found that a huge part of your immune system is actually located in your gastrointestinal tract. Your gut does not only digest nutrients, it also protects your body from harmful microbes through good bacteria. They can do this by releasing specialised immune cells that produce antiviral proteins which fight against viral infections. Thus, consuming probiotics can stimulate a high population of microorganisms that can strengthen your immune response against illnesses.

As a result, higher probiotic consumption can produce the following health benefits:

1. Lowered Risk Against Heart Disease

Probiotics can boost your cardiovascular health by controlling your cholesterol and blood pressure. These good bacteria break down bile, which is mostly composed of cholesterol. Through this process, these probiotics can prevent the reabsorption of cholesterol into your gut. Since cholesterol is already controlled in the digestive system, it won’t be able to enter the bloodstream. Furthermore, the consumption of probiotics has also been linked to reduced blood pressure.

2. Improved Protection from Flu

Probiotics can also boost your immunity against respiratory viruses, such as influenza and RSV. These good bacteria have been proven to be effective in preventing the replication of various respiratory viruses. Furthermore, they can also help in balancing the antiviral and pro-inflammatory responses in your body before and after an infection.

3. Increased Antibody Production

Good gut bacteria can also increase specific antibody populations. For instance, it boosts IgA-producing cells, one of the first antibodies that fight against infections. Probiotics also promote T lymphocytes that kill infected host cells. Finally, they help increase the production of natural killer cells, which limit the spread and the damage caused by infections.


How to Boost Your Gut Health

The good news is that you can improve your overall health by simply consuming delicious food that contains probiotics. Probiotics are present in various fermented products, such as yoghurt, cottage cheese, pickled vegetables, kimchi, and sourdough bread. Just make sure that these products have not undergone the pasteurisation process, which can kill bacteria! Or, you can try making your own yoghurt using handy yoghurt makers. Alternatively, you try pickling, which can be a fun home cooking experiment!

Integrating probiotic-rich food into a well-balanced meal will surely boost your overall health. You can even simplify meal prep through a mini rice cooker, which can actually cook porridge, stew, soup, grains, vegetables, and dozens of other recipes and ingredients that promote gut health. For example, you can get fibre, minerals, and probiotics by consuming porridge with fruits and Greek yoghurt in the morning. Adding pickled vegetables or kimchi to your rice bowls is another way of mixing these good bacteria into a healthy meal.

Probiotics can also be mixed into your meals through capsules or powders. Although there are no limitations when it comes to the dosage, it is recommended that you consume one billion to ten billion live probiotics at a time.

Probiotics can improve your immunity, as well as your digestive and cardiovascular health. On top of all these benefits, it's very easy to integrate into your diet through fermented food, supplements, or powders!