Disease

Disease risks and other issues related to poor digestive health.

Man in white t-shirt flexing his arm.

How Probiotics Support Your Immune System

During the unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic, we’ve seen a renewed focus from our customers on ways to “support your immune system.” The obvious question is: can probiotics, by helping your gut be as healthy as possible, also support your immune system? Although probiotics are proven to help digestion and optimal gut health, recent studies indicate probiotics also protect and enhance your immune system.

The primary reason probiotics, by strengthening your gut health, help your immune system function better is simple. Your gut and immune system have a symbiotic relationship. For example, 70-80% of your immune cells are located in your gut. The health of your gut directly impacts the overall health of your entire immune system.

Healthy guts make healthy immune systems. Conversely, compromised, unhealthy guts erode the effectiveness of immune system function. That leads to potentially more illnesses like common colds, flu, and many other infections – potentially even COVID-19.

Scientists have known for years that our microbiome helps keep overactive immune responses (leading to conditions like IBS and other autoimmune diseases) in check. However, they were still unsure of the exact mechanisms that drive this interaction.

Vitamin A

Emerging research may have found one of the potential answers. Vitamin A seems to help the healthy bacteria in our guts produce beneficial chemicals and activate naturally occurring vitamin A found in the food we eat that helps regulate our immune system naturally. After all, our goal as medical professionals is to help your body defend itself from disease naturally without medications, and the frontline of your body’s war against threats from bacteria and viral diseases is in your gut.

A study led by Shipra Vaishnava, Assistant Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at Brown University, found that when your gut has an adequate level of vitamin A, your gut seems to be able to suppress overactive immune responses. That suggests that instead of your body’s defense system attacking helpful bacteria in your gut and upsetting the natural balance of these necessary flora, they can coexist with each other peacefully; hopefully, leading to a combination of optimal gut and immune system health function.

“A lot of these diseases are attributed to increased immune response or immune activation, but we’ve found a new way that bacteria in our gut can dampen the immune response,” Shipra Vaishnava argues. “This research could be critical in determining therapies in the case of autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease or other inflammatory bowel diseases, as well as vitamin A deficiency.”

Simply put, probiotic supplements give your body the ability to absorb nutrients more efficiently, resulting in an improved immune system. That’s why better gut health prepares your body to defend itself against external threats – even during a pandemic.

Diversifying your Gut to Strengthen your Immune System

Since a COVID-19 vaccine may not be available until sometime next year, anyone looking for ways to build up your body’s defenses naturally should make sure your body has a diverse microbiome which leads to a healthy gut. A health gut, in turn, leads to a more robust, healthier immune system

The best way to increase microbiome diversity is to eat foods that support a healthy gut, and avoiding alcohol and highly processed foods. We get it, that’s always hard to do, and is challenging during a pandemic like COVID-19. One easy way to help your gut stay healthy and strong is to take a multistrain probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotics.

However, don’t forget to help your body stay strong by managing your mental health, getting enough sleep, and staying physically active if you can do so safely.

It’s small, daily steps like these that make a big difference in protecting your health.

For more information on how to combat the Coronavirus, read our previous blog:

C oronavirus: Protect Your Immune System

Woman that looks sad while sitting on a couch

Coronavirus and the Gut-Brain Blues

There’s no doubt following social distancing guidelines when you and your family go outside is the smart and safe way to avoid the many health risks associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19).

But those guidelines don’t take into account the stress you’re feeling, whether you’re hunkered down for long periods of time with work-at-home responsibilities plus family responsibilities or not working at all.

We’ve talked a lot about the gut-brain axis, the connection between your brain, emotions and intestines.

If you’ve been doing a lot of stress eating lately, it could be a sign that your gut-brain axis needs some extra help to stay in balance and keep the weight off too.

Don’t fear, there’s many ways to rebalance your anxious gut-brain axis safely and gently, even in these stressful coronavirus times.

First, let’s take a look at how we got there.

Overeating processed foods

Consuming a typical Western diet full of processed, high-fat foods is a huge problem all by itself, which is often worsened by stress.

The more you eat, the more your gut produces higher levels of gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP), a hormone that manages the balance of energy in your body.

Last year, Baylor College of Medicine researchers discovered this extra GIP that the gut produces travels through the bloodstream to the brain where it slows down the impact of leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells that promotes a feeling of fullness or satiety, in a series of tests on mice.

(Messing up your sleep cycle affects how your body produces leptin too.)

Baylor scientists recognized the gut-brain connection when they took steps to block the production of GIP which reduces the appetites and weights of mice fed high-fat diets.

But that’s not all…

Too much real sugar

You may also recall our warning about foods sweetened with real, refined sugar that can be just as harmful to your health as those containing artificial sweeteners. It doesn’t take much of the real thing to trigger sugar cravings either.

The average American consumes at least 66 pounds of real sugar, if not more, every year, fueling the epidemic of obesity and many more health problems.

Real sugar affects the brain in a unique way by signals traveling from the gut all the way to the brain via the vagus nerve, according to a very recent study on mice appearing in Nature.

It was really hard for Columbia University researchers to ignore the connection. When given the option of being fed water with artificial sweeteners or real sugar, mice gravitated to the real thing after only two days.

What’s more, scientists found that the gut-brain connection kicks into gear in the presence of glucose (often added to processed foods as dextrose and extracted from corn starch).

Rebalancing your anxious gut-brain axis

Depending on how the coronavirus outbreak is slowing down in your area (or not), getting back to a normal routine may take a while.

With this in mind, ask yourself these four questions each day to help make sure you’re maintaining your balance, mentally and physically.

  • Are you taking breaks to exercise at home? At the very least, plan short walks outdoors (while practicing safe distancing).
  • Are you reaching out to your family and friends for support? All of us need some extra love and attention right now.
  • Are your sleep habits a real mess? Get back on a regular schedule!
  • Are your eating habits in hibernation mode? You have a golden opportunity right now to clean up your diet and lose some extra pounds.

A very safe and healthy way to relieve those gut-brain blues and boost your immune system without a drug — taking a multi-strain probiotic, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic with 10 strains of beneficial bacteria — is one of the best choices you can make.

And, if you need some extra help to lose a few pounds, you may want to consider EndoMune Metabolic Rescue with its proven formula of Bifidobacterium lactis and the prebiotic XOS that promotes a greater sense of fullness and healthier blood sugar levels too.

Resources

Journal of Clinical Investigation

Baylor College of Medicine

Nature

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

University of California at San Francisco/sugarscience

Healthline

Young boy holding sandwich in front of his face. Caption is "EndoMune Cares!"

EndoMune Gives Back: Feeding America

At this time, an estimated 17 million additional people in the U.S. are experiencing hunger due to the impacts of COVID-19. Schools are closed, and so are the programs that feed many children whose parents or caregivers may now be unemployed.

We at EndoMune are committed to supporting the health of our communities nationwide during this time of vulnerability and are grateful for our ability to do so when food banks are experiencing their greatest need. As a physician, I appreciate Feeding America’s efforts to supply fresh, healthy and nutritious foods necessary for maintaining a balanced diet.

For each bottle purchased on our website, we will donate $2 to Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund. Donations will continue for as long as the Fund is active.

Feeding America, through its network of 200 food banks across the U.S., secures and distributes 4.3 billion meals per year as the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization to children and families in need.

We kindly ask that you join us in our effort to help feed America during this time.

Sincerely,
Dr. Hoberman

Image of test results for Urinary Tract Infection

Reduce Recurrent UTI Risks with Probiotics

Many of you know about urinary tract infections (UTIs), common health problems caused by bacterial infections in the urinary system (most often in the urethra and bladder).

The treatment most doctors recommend for treating a UTI — a common issue for kids, women and older adults — is a commonly prescribed antibiotic, like amoxicillin or ciprofloxacin.

Too much of a good thing?

Unfortunately, doctors and their patients often rely too much on antibiotics. In fact, antibiotics may be not necessary as much as 43 percent of the time, according to recent numbers reported by The BMJ.

Plus, with the over-prescribing of these drugs comes a greater risk of antibiotic resistance, a huge problem that can arise when they are needed most.

Probiotics have become the go-to answer for fighting antibiotic resistance and protecting the balance of bacteria in your gut, even when you absolutely have to take these drugs.

This is important because UTIs can come back, and some people are more to prone have them than others.

Probiotics are a proven tool that can help you and your family treat UTIs, as well as prevent them from becoming recurring issues too.

How probiotics fight UTIs

Probiotics made with multiple strains of Lactobacilli (like the EndoMune family of products) help to prevent UTIs in a number of ways.

The presence of Lactobacilli naturally produces hydrogen peroxide, its own kind of natural antibacterial agent in the urinary tract. (It can lower the urine’s pH levels too.)

What’s more, Lactobacilli produce a biofilm that prevents bacteria from attaching to cells in the urinary tract.

Kids and UTIs

For adults, UTIs aren’t great, but they can be a whole lot worse for young kids, especially recurrent ones. Plus, the risks of greater health problems — bladder and bowel issues or urine reflux — grow with recurrent UTIs.

What makes these UTIs even more concerning for parents and children: The symptoms depend on the age of your little one.

The only sign you may see in a baby is a fever or extra fussiness. Older kids who are able to communicate more clearly can tell you if they are experiencing extra burning, lower abdominal pain or back pain.

If you’re a parent worried about UTIs and how to treat them safely, you’ll be happy to know that multi-strain probiotics are highly effective in preventing the recurrence of febrile (infant) UTIs, according to the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society.

Multi-strain results

Some 180 healthy children who had been treated and recovered from a UTI participated in the probiotic trial (from age four months to five years) for 18 months.

Kids were assigned at random to receive either a placebo or a probiotic containing Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium lactis and Bifidobacterium bifidum.

(These four strains are part of EndoMune Advanced Probiotic’s mixture of beneficial bacteria for adults, while EndoMune Junior Advanced Probiotic Powder and EndoMune Junior Advanced Chewable Probiotic contain all but Lactobacillus rhamnosus.)

Over that time, more than twice as many children (14 girls and two boys) on the placebo side experienced a recurrent UTI, compared with only six girls who took a multi-strain probiotic.

Given the success of this study, scientists recommended further research, including more testing with older adults.

Until that time comes, taking a probiotic like EndoMune with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria may be a wise choice to treat a UTI safely, with or without an antibiotic.

Before giving your young child a probiotic, be sure to check with his/her pediatrician first!

Resources

Infectious Disease Advisor

University of Colorado Women’s Health

WebMD

CDC

Journal of the Infectious Diseases Society

Harvard Medical School

Medical News Today

Healthy Children.org

Childhood Kidney Diseases

Medscape

cancer awareness ribbons lined up.

Fighting Cancer With Prebiotics

Prebiotics are the unsung heroes of gut health.

Made of non-digestible plant fibers and carbohydrates, prebiotics do much of the dirty work behind the scenes by feeding the good bacteria living in your gut and stimulating their growth.

But that’s not all they do…

More recently, science has discovered new benefits of prebiotics related to protecting your bones from osteoarthritis and promoting better sleep.

A new role may be emerging for prebiotics as a natural cancer-fighting agent.

Prebiotics vs. Cancer

Among the therapies used by physicians to fight melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, are drugs that target mutated groups of genes (BRAF and MEK inhibitors).

Unfortunately, some of these therapies don’t help everyone and, in other cases, patients can develop a resistance to these treatments.

Researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in San Diego had observed how the addition of prebiotics to therapy regimens had helped in fighting cancer in previous studies but were unsure how those mechanisms worked.

They observed how the action of two prebiotics (inulin, a starch-like substance found in herbs, vegetables and fruits like onions, asparagus, bananas and leeks, or mucin, an intestinal protein) shaped the gut microbiotas of mice to boost their tiny immune systems and aid in the effectiveness of the medicines they were given.

Scientists fed these animals water and food containing inulin or mucin, then transplanted either melanoma or colon cancer cells into their tiny bodies.

The winner is…

The addition of prebiotics made a great deal of difference in a number of ways:

  • Stimulating the number of immune cells that fight tumors.
  • Helping mice develop more distinct gut health signatures, thus generating more anti-tumor immunity.
  • Slowing the growth of melanoma.
  • Improving the response to the presence of mutated cancer genes.

“Prebiotics represent a powerful tool to restructure gut microbiomes and identify bacteria that contribute to anti-cancer immunity,” says Dr. Scott Peterson, co-author of the study.

Certainly, prebiotics do a lot of the work to keep your good guys in your gut fed and healthy, but not all of it.

You may recall a small study I wrote about in which multi-strain probiotics played a critical role in improving the health of colon cancer patients by protecting their gut bacteria diversity.

Medical researchers are taking a very cautious approach about the use of probiotics and prebiotics when treating serious diseases like cancer, as they should be.

However, there’s little doubt that it takes a community of beneficial bacteria in a multi-strain probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic — that contains the natural prebiotic fructooligosaccharide (FOS) — to make a daily difference in your gut health and so many parts of your overall health too.

Resources

Cell Reports

Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

Mayo Clinic

American Cancer Society

WebMD

Warning sign that says "CORONAVIRUS"

Coronavirus: Protect Your Immune System

Just when you thought you were prepared for the worst of the cold and flu season, here comes COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus. As the coronavirus has spread across the globe and made its way around the world to America, most of you are concerned, as you should be.

However, there’s been lots of fear-mongering conspiracies shared about the coronavirus by media sources choosing to scare you rather than truly help you.

Still, your number one priority during this coronavirus pandemic —protecting your immune system — remains the same as it does during our annual flu fight.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus doesn’t have a vaccine on the market preventing it, and there may not be one available for quite some time. Some researchers estimate that a vaccine may not be available for 12-18 months.

So, what can you do?

Your updated healthy habits list

With no vaccine coming for a while, here’s your updated healthy habits list. This time there will be a greater emphasis on protecting your immune health.

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water often. It is recommended to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating and after toileting, sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose.
  2. Work on not touching your nose, mouth and eyes so much. (Yes, it’s very hard to do!)
  3. Cover your nose or mouth when sneezing or coughing with a facial tissue. Be sure to throw it away afterwards!
  4. Keep common surfaces you use a lot (your kitchen sink, countertop and bathroom lavatory) as clean as you can. Household sprays will do perfectly fine for this task.
  5. Eat healthy meals and get as much exercise as you can.
  6. Avoid close contact with the sick and stay home when you’re sick. The CDC recommends not spending money on a mask unless you wear it to protect others from the coronavirus.

Boosting the bugs in your gut with a probiotic supports your immune system too… but how?

Multiple strains of bacteria make a difference

Although there has been no testing of probiotics against the coronavirus, a group of researchers examined the effect of 12 strains of beneficial bacteria contained in probiotics to fight viral diseases in a review published in Current Pharmaceutical Design.

In most instances, these strains of beneficial bacteria reduced the severity of symptoms (diarrhea, coughing, fevers) from colds and flu and upper respiratory infections in young children and healthy adults.

(Scientists tested a number of strains including Lactobacillus caseiLactobacillus rhamnosusLactobacillus plantarum and Bifidobacterium lactis contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.)

Follow my updated healthy habits list, monitor news reports from trusted sources like the CDC and World Health Organization and take a probiotic. By taking these simple steps, you’re doing all you can to protect you and yours from the coronavirus.

References

World Health Organization

CDC

Current Pharmaceutical Design

New York Times

NBC News

The Hill

 

 

Graphic with healthy habits for flu season: 1. wash your hands often 2. Cover nose and mouth 3. Pay attention to overall health 4. Get your flu shot 5. Take a probiotic

Take a Probiotic During This Dangerous Cold/Flu Season!

Are you REALLY prepared for the cold and flu season?

Depending on where you live in the United States, the flu season has already arrived much earlier than expected, and with a vengeance — spreading even more quickly in the Southern states.

Experts believe the flu season may peak much earlier than usual. As of now, more than 1.7 million cases have been diagnosed so far, according to the CDC — because one of the viruses now in circulation (a B/Victoria strain) usually doesn’t spread until Spring.

The signs point to many Americans being sick with the flu at the same time, leading some experts to suggest preparing for the worst.

We’re already in the “season” when we spend more time inside than outside. And, our respiratory systems are dealing with changes in humidity, thus creating opportunities for sore throats, and runny noses.

Fortunately, there are a lot of simple things you can do to protect and fortify your health during the cold and flu season.

Follow these healthy habits!

  1. Wash your hands often, especially during the cold and flu season. Avoid using soaps, toothpastes or shampoos containing antimicrobial chemicals like triclosan.
  2. When you’re sneezing or coughing, cover your nose and mouth.
  3. Pay attention to your overall health. Get the right amount of rest, keep stress at a minimum, stay active and eat nutritious foods.
  4. Be sure to get the flu shot, even now!

But, are you taking a probiotic too?

Improve your immune system!

There are good reasons for taking a probiotic, especially if you’re older. However, one of the most important reasons for taking a probiotic right now is boosting your immunity to the flu.

Based on a systematic review of studies, researchers concluded taking a probiotic or a prebiotic anywhere from 2-28 weeks, boosted the overall effect of receiving a flu shot — especially when taken for longer periods of time and by healthy older folks, too.

Take fewer antibiotics!

Patients and health professionals rely way too much on antibiotics. People fall back on antibiotics for many health problems, and doctors are all too happy to write prescriptions for them.

Yet, the CDC estimates about 47 million prescriptions written every year for antibiotics are completely unnecessary, raising the risks that when you really need them, they will not work as they’re intended.

However, a recent economic modeling study found taking probiotics may be the better (and safer) option to fight flu-like infections.

A daily probiotic could save the American economy (and your pocketbook directly) as much as $1.4 BILLION, not to mention decreasing the need for antibiotic prescriptions by at least 1.39 million.

Protect your kids!

When it comes to the immune health of your kids during the cold and flu season, don’t forget to protect your little ones with probiotics too.

A team of Swedish researchers recently found giving young children a daily dose of probiotics (containing strains of Lactobacillus) in a day care setting was very beneficial in treating common cold infections, according to t a study appearing in the European Journal of Nutrition.

Not only did their severity of symptoms fall sharply, so did the use of medications, absences from day care and even fewer instances of fussiness and crying.

Maintain your good health by taking a probiotic!

I cannot stress enough that a healthy immune system is the foundation that will help to protect you when everyone else around you is fighting colds and the flu.

Following the steps I outlined above plus taking a daily probiotic containing multiple strains of beneficial bacteria can go a long way toward keeping you and your family healthy.

EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Jr. Advanced Probiotic feature strains of beneficial bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families plus a prebiotic (FOS) that feeds the good bugs in your gut.

References

NBC News

Nutrients

WebMD

CDC

Frontiers in Pharmacology

European Journal of Nutrition

McMaster University

Fast Company

Associated Press

probiotics and IBS written on a paper on a clipboard.

Probiotics and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the number one reason patients are referred to gastroenterologists.

IBS is a chronic disorder that creates a variety of painful symptoms, including diarrhea, cramping, bloating, gas, constipation and other abdominal pain.

Anywhere from 10-20 percent of Americans commonly experience IBS symptoms (usually younger than age 45). Typically, IBS affects twice as many women as it does men and often begins during young adulthood.

Despite the ability of modern medicine to spot the symptoms of IBS, nailing down a culprit has been far more difficult.

Certainly, stress may be a trigger for IBS, given the role the gut-brain axis plays in connecting your intestines, emotions and brain. The kinds of foods and the amounts we consume (too many carbohydrates) can also be big problems. Ditto for alcohol.

Although there’s no definitive tests for IBS, your gastroenterologist will want to perform some of these procedures to help him/her rule out other health problems.

  • Blood work
  • Stool culture
  • Colonoscopy or upper GI endoscopy
  • Hydrogen breath test

Another aspect that makes treating this disease really tricky: There’s different subtypes of IBS: Diarrhea-predominant (IBS-D), constipation-predominant (IBS-C) and alternating type (IBS-A).

And, IBS is a health problem that patients can switch from one subtype to another.

Treating a moving target

Many doctors will recommend some very basic lifestyle changes that may make a difference, especially if a patient’s IBS symptoms are mild:

  • Avoiding high-gas foods and gluten.
  • Eating more fiber and low FODMAP meals (with supervision from a physician or dietician.
  • Getting more sleep and exercise.
  • Reducing stress as much as possible.

(If some of these lifestyle changes sound familiar to you, health care professionals recommend them for fighting the obesity epidemic too.)

Physicians can prescribe medications, but shifts in an IBS patient’s subtype make that problematic too. For example, one drug for IBS-D — alosetron (Lotronex) — is recommended only for women with IBD-D and with special precautions and warnings.

Should stress also play a role, your doctor may want to prescribe an antidepressant drug, like a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (fluvoxamine or sertraline), an older tricyclic drug (amitriptyline or imipramine) or an antispasmodic drug (dicyclomine).

The probiotic approach

Out of the many non-drug therapies medical experts cite to control IBS, however, probiotics always seems to rise to the top of the list because they are among the safest ways to treat this condition effectively.

Why? Probiotics are much more versatile in the ways they work in your body, compared to a drug.

They do a great job in maintaining the motility in your intestines and lessening constipation, a key symptom of IBS.

And, probiotics are a safe, effective means to treat diarrhea and reducing its duration.

When emotions and stress begin to manifest in problems with your gut-brain axis, probiotics can be a difference-making tool.

But not just any probiotic will do.

The evidence

A very recent review of studies appearing in the medical journal Nutrients that examined controlled trials over the past five years underscored the effectiveness of multi-strain probiotics in relationship to IBS.

Of the 11 studies that met the final cut for the review, seven of them reported significant improvements among IBS patients taking probiotics. But that’s not all.

Eight of those 11 trials evaluated how IBS patients benefit from taking a daily multi-strain probiotic. When IBS patients were given multi-strain probiotics for eight weeks or more, the benefits were far more distinct, especially over a long period of time.

Probiotics containing a single species of bacteria may be good for treating one specific problem, but not several health challenges like those that occur with IBS.

Your gut contains a diverse accumulation of bacteria, 10 times more than the cells in your body (in the tens of trillions) and more than 1,000 different species.

That’s why a multi-species probiotic is built to be a more effective way to treat the symptoms associated with IBS and give your body’s immune system a healthy boost.

Taking a probiotic with 10 strains of beneficial bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families (plus a prebiotic that feeds the bugs in your gut) like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic can be a safer, better alternative for treating IBS that may help you avoid taking a prescription drug too.

Flu Season Ahead Sign

Are You Ready For The Flu Season? Take Your Probiotics!

Are you REALLY ready for the upcoming flu season?

Medical experts agree you can never be too careful — or too early — when it comes to being prepared for the flu season.

Preliminary numbers from the CDC estimate up to 43 million Americans were affected by the flu during the 2018-19 season and as many as 61,000 died from the flu.

If those early estimates of deaths attributed to the flu shock you, it’s an improvement on the 2017-18 season when some 79,000 Americans died.

The first takeaway for this article I cannot stress enough is to get your entire family vaccinated for the flu NOW. Please don’t put a flu shot off until it gets colder or even as late as Thanksgiving.

This advisory is especially true for seniors whose immune systems aren’t as robust as those of younger adults, according to the experts.

Plus, if you’re dealing with any of the risk factors associated with heart disease, protecting your body from the flu becomes far more important.

You may be six times more likely to experience a heart attack after being diagnosed with the flu, according to a 2018 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Help your gut and the flu shot do their work

The health of your gut plays a critical role in how well the flu shot does its work too.

Your gut can be an important anchor to a stronger, healthier immune system, until a very familiar culprit — broad-spectrum antibiotics — enters the picture, according to a very recent study appearing in the journal Cell.

Researchers from Stanford University and Emory University examined the effect broad-spectrum antibiotics plays in reducing the effect of the flu vaccine by testing 33 human subjects (ages 18-45) over two consecutive flu seasons.

In the first group of test subjects conducted over the 2014-15 flu season, exposure to antibiotics did the expected damage, reducing bacteria in the guts of patients by 10,000 fold. Also, the loss of bacterial diversity in the gut lasted for up to a year.

However, patients still had enough of the antibodies from the flu shot to protect them, suggesting exposure to current or previous vaccines may have been helpful.

So, researchers tried a different approach for a second group of 2015-16 subjects who hadn’t been vaccinated for the prior three years before the study, and the results were very different.

Like before, these newer patients lost huge amounts of their gut bacteria after receiving antibiotics, but this exposure also lowered levels of an antibody that reduced the immune response of one of the three virus strains contained in the vaccine, making patients more vulnerable to the flu.

But that’s not all…

Those who received antibiotics along with a flu shot showed signs of systemic inflammation only seen by researchers in seniors age 65 and older in a previous study. This inflammation mirrored a depletion of metabolites in the blood requiring help from the human gut to replenish.

These key metabolites (secondary bile acids) are responsible for easing inflammation process in the body’s immune system.

Probiotics to the rescue

As we know, probiotics are a great natural tool that may help in protecting your body from the flu. Did you know taking probiotics may mean taking fewer antibiotics and missing less work too?

Those are the key findings in a systematic review of studies conducted by the Cochrane Collective and York Health Economics Consortium, featured in Frontiers in Pharmacology.

Scientists were tasked with assessing how much the use of probiotics in the management of acute respiratory tract infections — from mild colds to the flu — would save Americans, and it’s a lot.

Based on increased productivity (using fewer sick days), taking fewer drugs and overall medical bills, Americans could save as much as $1.4 billion on their total health costs.

The only catch: Those savings apply if everyone takes probiotics regularly. No one enjoys having the flu, or taking an antibiotic that may do as much harm to your body as good.

Taking a probiotic, formulated with 10 strains of beneficial bacteria and a prebiotic that feeds the bugs in your gut, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic may be a great way to avoid the doctor’s office during this flu season, but only after getting your annual flu shot!

Don’t forget to increase your child’s chances of avoiding the flu too with a daily dose of EndoMune Junior Advanced Chewable Probiotic, fortified with four essential strains of beneficial bacteria along with a prebiotic.

sterile white couch in an all white room

Your House Paint May Contain Gut-Harming Antimicrobials

I’ve talked about all of the trouble associated antibacterial products (preventing the development of bacteria) and antimicrobial products (preventing the spread of fungi, viruses and bacteria) too many times to count on my blog.

Over-sterilizing your life creates lots of problems for your gut microbiome. And, this doesn’t include exposures to all sorts of things under our very noses — from yoga mats to common personal care products like toothpaste — that contain gut bacteria-robbing chemicals.

Could the latex paint that lines the walls of your home be another problem hiding in plain sight?

Antimicrobial latex paints put to the test

Researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago tested the effect of three kinds of antimicrobial, synthetic latex paints (formulated to improve indoor air quality) on bacteria in a study featured in the journal, Indoor Air.

To reproduce the typical home environment, scientists painted a group of 2×2-inch squares of drywall twice (with a day in between applications for drying), added tiny drops of water and placed them in sealed glass jars.

Then, some of the samples were exposed to five forms of bacteria taken from gym facilities that are commonly found in homes.

Within a day, all but one of the bacterial species — the spore-forming Bacillus timonensis — had died. The concern: Most bacteria die on dry, cold surfaces, but why not this one?

Spreading bacteria where it shouldn’t be

When bacteria are attacked with antimicrobial chemicals, they will mount a defense, says lead researcher Erica Hartmann. “Bacillus is typically innocuous, but by attacking it, you might prompt it to develop more antibiotic resistance.”

Spore-forming bacteria like Bacillus timonensis protect themselves on painted surfaces by lying dormant for a time, and resisting harsh conditions until they reactivate.

By now, you’re probably wondering why paint companies don’t test their antimicrobial products on common forms of bacteria. That was the gist of the test, Hartman says.

All too often, companies test their products on how E. coli — considered by some to be the “lab rat” of the microbial world — and Staphylococcus survive, yet ignore other microbes people encounter every day.

“We should be judicious in our use of antimicrobial products to make sure that we’re not exposing the more harmless bacteria to something that could make them harmful,” Hartmann says.

Protecting your immune health

The presence of antimicrobial cleaners and paints in our lives can create a “too clean for our own good” environment that hurts our health in many ways.

Exposure to antibacterial and antimicrobial products, even those seemingly as benign as paint, can harm us by eroding the delicate balance of bacteria in our gut.

Maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria helps our body do critical things like fortifying our immune systems and creating nearly all of the serotonin our bodies need.

Taking a good probiotic, ideally with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, is an easy way to protect your overall health and your gut from antibacterial products that may hiding on your walls, countertops and elsewhere.

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