Probiotics can help during flu season by preventing the replication of viruses in the body, stimulating the secretion of antibodies that protect against respiratory infections and supporting a healthy immune system by maintaining a healthy gut microbiome.
Protection During Flu Season
When temperatures drop, especially in the winter months, it is very common to get sick with a cold or worse, the flu. While for most individuals, catching a cold or the flu is merely a very uncomfortable experience, for older individuals and immuno-compromised people, the flu can lead to dangerous complications and at times be fatal.
Therefore, it’s incredibly helpful to learn how to strengthen your body and immune system so that you can fight off colds and the flu more effectively. There are many powerful, natural supplements that can help support your body when it comes time for cold and flu season, and when you find yourself in a situation that many people around you are getting sick.
One of these powerful gifts of nature are probiotics. A science backed, multispecies and multistrain, medically relevant probiotic can help your body and your immune system be strong so that it can fight off harmful bacteria and viruses, prevent colds, the flu and respiratory infections.
Before we get into the details of how this is possible, let’s quickly go over what exactly a cold, the flu and stomach flu are.
What is Influenza?
The main difference between the common cold and the flu (a.k.a. Influenza) is the severity of symptoms. In addition, a cold can be a bacterial as well as a viral infection, whereas, the flu can only be caused by a viral infection. This means that to treat the flu with a course of antibiotics is not effective because the antibiotic only kills bacteria, not viruses.
A cold usually starts off with a sore throat, runny nose and fatigue, and is followed by coughing and sometimes even a high temperature.
The flu, on the other hand, presents severe cold-like symptoms as well as, in many cases, a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit and higher, a headache, and muscle soreness.
The stomach flu is a viral infection that mainly affects the gastro-intestinal system. It’s also often referred to as a stomach virus. Common symptoms of the stomach flu include diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting, as well as fever, fatigue, lightheadedness and headache.
So, what makes people more susceptible to getting sick during cold and flu season? When temperatures become colder, people’s body temperatures drop as well and reduce the blood flow in the body causing the immune system to become weaker.
Furthermore, poor room ventilation in colder months leaves the air stale and less humid. This dries out the nasal mucous membranes and makes it easier for germs to colonize and multiply.
How Do Probiotics Help?
Blocking Virus Replication
Harmful bacteria and viruses enter your body through your mouth and nose, and then your bloodstream through your stomach and intestines. Your intestinal wall is designed to block harmful bacteria, viruses and toxins from entering your bloodstream. However, it will only do so when it is healthy and strong, which unfortunately in many people it is not.
Specific probiotic bacteria have the ability to strengthen your intestinal wall to defend against harmful bacteria and viruses. In addition, certain bacterial strains have the ability to lower the pH levels in your intestines, thus creating a less hospitable environment for potentially harmful bacteria and viruses to colonize and multiply.
OMNi-BiOTiC AB® 10, for example, contains ten specifically selected, scientifically researched bacterial strains that help protect your body against harmful bacteria and viruses, preventing you from getting sick in the first place.
A Healthy Gut Supports Your Body’s Immune System
80% of your immune system resides in your gut. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the bacteria in your gut heavily influence your immune system.
Luckily, we are starting to understand more and more how we can positively influence the environment in the gut, and with that our overall health and wellbeing, by supplementing with probiotics. Probiotics ensure that good bacteria are replenished in the gut in order to maintain a healthy intestinal system and overall organism.
So do probiotics help your immune system? Studies show that certain probiotic bacteria are especially effective when it comes to boosting your body’s immune system. OMNi-BiOTiC® BALANCE contains specially selected and combined bacterial strains that strengthen the gut barrier – which we know helps protect against harmful bacteria and viruses from spreading in the body – and helps balance the immune system in two critical ways.
First, OMNi-BiOTiC® BALANCE contains probiotic strains that are known to increase IL-10 production in the body, thus helping your body manage inflammation. IL-10 is a messenger substance of the immune system that protects against exaggerated inflammatory processes and autoimmune diseases.
Second, OMNi-BiOTiC®BALANCE can help strengthen mucosal membranes to help protect against respiratory infections.
Preventing Respiratory Infections
OMNi-BiOTiC® BALANCE also stimulates the secretion of Secretory Immunoglobulin A (sIgA). SIgA is an antibody that plays a crucial role in the immune function of mucosal membranes. If your body doesn’t have enough sIgA, then your immune system may be weakened and you might be more prone to infections such as colds, the flu, yeast infections and urinary tract infections.
Hence, reducing inflammation and strengthening your immune system via a healthy gut flora can have a powerful effect on protecting you this cold and flu season.
Other Helpful Measures to Take Against the Common Cold
The best approach to protecting yourself against getting a cold or the flu is to prepare your body in multiple ways so that it enters into cold and flu season strong and ready to fight off disease.
In addition to strengthening your body’s vital force by regularly taking a high-quality, scientifically backed, multispecies and multistrain probiotic, like OMNi-BiOTiC®, you can add the following supplements to your wellness routine.
Vitamin C is likely the first supplement that comes to mind when thinking about how to naturally boost the immune system. MDLinx writes that Vitamin C promotes the formation of antibodies that bind to and destroy dangerous bacteria, viruses and toxins in our bodies before they can make us sick.
Foods that are rich in Vitamin C include lemons, oranges (really, most citrus fruits), cantaloupe, papaya, broccoli and kale.
Along with Vitamin C, Vitamin D is the most important vitamin that helps fight against diseases. Vitamin D is a vital component for the function of our immune system, as well as the maintenance of bones, muscles and our teeth. Especially during fall and winter months, it is important to take a Vitamin D supplement and add Vitamin D-rich foods to your diet (salmon, egg, mushrooms and liver).
Zinc is a micronutrient that effectively balances your immune response to infection, making sure that your body does not spiral out of control. A protein lures Zinc into key cells that are first-responders against infection. The Zinc then interacts with a process that is vital to fight against infection and by doing so helps balance the immune response.
You can also prepare your body for cold and flu season by regularly exercising outside so that you can slowly adapt to the weather changes, and the drop in temperature and humidity won’t weaken your immune system.
Try to spend at least 20 minutes a day outdoors – your circulation will come to life, your immune system will start producing antibodies and they will spread throughout your body. The fresh air will also likely invigorate your mind and improve your mood.
And, don’t forget to wash your hands regularly, especially after you’ve been out and about. When you hold the railing on the bus or in the subway, shake hands, open a door, pay with cash, and so on, thousands of bacteria stick to you. Washing your hands regularly makes sure that these bacteria don’t enter your body.
If, however, you find yourself having to reach for an antibiotic treatment to fight off a cold that just won’t quit, please make sure to immediately start taking a high-dose, high-quality probiotic during, and a little after, your treatment.
In short, antibiotics do not only destroy harmful bacteria that are making you sick, but also the natural, good bacteria in your intestines, which your body needs to properly function. This also makes you more likely to catch another infection. You can read more about how antibiotics should always be taken with a high-quality probiotic here.