flu shot

Beat The Flu With Probiotics

If you and your family have stayed healthy throughout this latest flu season — one that many experts say may be one of the worst ever — consider yourselves lucky.

The huge majority of this year’s flu cases in America originates from the H3N2 strain, one that hit Australia hard last year, sending countless patients to hospitals and killing four times more people than the most recent five-year average for a flu season.

Also, treating the flu is very expensive for all of us, accounting for more than $27 billion annually in direct medical expenses and lost wages.

A very timely study appearing in Scientific Reports demonstrates how a single strain of beneficial bacteria may protect you from some of the worst symptoms of the influenza A virus and its many variations.

Scientists at Georgia State University treated mice with a proprietary strain of Lactobacillus casei (one of the 10 strains of beneficial bacteria used in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic) before infecting them with a lethal dose of the influenza A virus.

Surviving the flu

All of the mice that were treated with Lactobacillus casei survived their run-ins with influenza A, according to Dr. Sang-Moo Kang, lead study author and a professor at Georgia State’s Institute for Biomedical Sciences.

Among the survivors, their immune systems were strong enough to resist deadly primary and secondary strains of the flu and protect them from losing weight.

By comparison, the control mice that weren’t treated with Lactobacillus casei experienced severe weight loss within nine days after being infected with the flu, had 18 times more influenza virus in their tiny lungs and eventually died.

These results aren’t surprising, considering the findings of an older study that found treating patients with another proprietary strain of Lactobacillus after giving them a flu shot held onto a protective amount of the vaccine for at least four weeks.

Even if you hate getting a flu shot in the first place, there’s many simple steps you can take to boost your immune system, from washing your hands early and often with plain soap and water (no antibacterial soaps) to getting the right amount of sleep and staying hydrated.

Taking a multi-species probiotic with important strains of beneficial bacteria, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Junior Probiotic (for kids), can also be a safe and effective non-drug way to protect your family’s health from the flu too.

Ready for your flu shot?

As the fall colors come and the temperatures get cooler, you realize it’s time to start thinking about getting that annual flu shot.

All the reminders — signs galore along with being asked many times at your neighborhood grocery store, local pharmacy and even your workplace — are already in place. But you just say, “No, not today,” as politely and quickly as you can, then change the subject (or walk away quickly).

There are good reasons why some people shouldn’t get a flu shot (or a nasal spray vaccine). The most popular ones are linked to severe allergies to vaccine ingredients, age restrictions, problems with Guillain-Barre Syndrome and the current state of your health (review the full list on the CDC website).

Still, we know what you’re probably thinking…

  1. The last time I had a flu shot, it made me sick.
  2. The last time I had a flu shot, I caught it anyway.
  3. I never get sick, so I can’t spread the flu around.
  4. I take a probiotic… Isn’t that enough to keep the flu away?

Before you risk going it alone during the upcoming flu season, let’s address those aforementioned reasons/excuses with some solid health information.

The last time I had a flu shot, it made me sick. If a flu vaccine made you slightly sick, that’s not uncommon. Most people develop temporary soreness or swelling where the flu shot is delivered. Some reactions may include a low-grade fever and aches, and can last up to two days.

The last time I had a flu shot, I caught it anyway. Flu vaccines are made from an inactive or weakened virus that doesn’t make you sick. Also, the flu shot may take up to 14 days to create a protective effect in your body.

I never get sick, so I can’t spread the flu around. You may eat a healthy diet and wash your hands regularly, but you can pass the flu to others without showing any symptoms.

I take a probiotic… Isn’t that enough to keep the flu away? By itself, protecting your gut health helps. However, a recent study showed how good gut health may increase the beneficial effect of vaccines, and exposure to antibiotics diminishes it.

Taking a probiotic filled with multiple species of beneficial bacteria — like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Junior — along with a flu shot, can provide the extra boost you need to stay healthy during this flu season.

Probiotics may boost the benefits of the flu shot

With the 2014-15 flu season coming, you may decide to forgo most of those 10 easy ways to boost your immune system naturally we discussed previously and, instead, go straight for a flu vaccine.

Unfortunately, you’ve probably also heard from some of your vaccinated and angry friends and family members coming down with the flu anyway. If you decide to get a flu shot, you’ll want to consider taking a vaccine-boosting probiotic too, based on recent research.

Lactobacillus improves flu shot response

The trick to making many vaccines work is much more than the inclusion of key antigens to help them recognize and attack diseases later on. Actually, many of these molecules aren’t able to provoke strong immune responses at all, according to the National Cancer Institute.

What’s just as important are the inclusion of adjuvants, substances that enhance the ability of vaccines to trigger protection against infection. Adjuvants work by activating the immune system, thus enabling antigens (pathogenic ingredients that provoke an immune response) in vaccines to stimulate long-term protection, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

A 2011 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed how probiotic bacteria — a proprietary strain of Lactobacillus — would be effective as an adjuvant of a live-attenuated flu vaccine in a double-blind study.

During the study, all patients received a flu shot, then a placebo or Lactobacillus twice a day for four weeks. For the H3N2 strain of flu, 84 percent of patients who were given Lactobacillus had a protective amount of the vaccine in their bodies 28 days later, compared to 55 percent who were given a placebo.

Take a probiotic with your flu shot

A more recent study in the journal Immunity that linked vaccines to the health of your gut microbiota — not depleted by antibiotics — may dictate how effective a flu shot may be.

The roots of this study date back to similar research in 2011 that monitored the response of healthy patients to the flu shot. Scientists discovered a link between the response of antibodies to the vaccine and the expression of the Toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5) gene.

This gene stimulates a healthy immune response by detecting flagellin, a component of tail-like appendages used by bacteria in the body, including the gut, to help them move.

The latest study took the next step by comparing the immune response of these three groups of mice to a flu shot to a vaccinated control group of germy mice: Genetically modified animals that lacked the TLR5 gene, germ-free mice and those that had spent four weeks drinking antibiotic-laced water.

A week after being inoculated, all three groups experienced up to an eightfold reduction of vaccine-specific antibodies in their blood compared to the vaccinated, germy control group, according to Science. However, blood antibody levels appeared to rebound within four weeks in all groups, but dropped again 85 days later among genetically-manipulated mice.

(It’s also important to remember, compared to normal, germy mice, the bodies of animals raised in a sterile environment — too clean for their own good health via the hygiene hypothesis — also produced fewer antibodies.)

In another test, mice given the polio vaccine (made of viral molecules but, like the flu vaccine, not an active virus) produced fewer beneficial antibodies too, suggesting “weaker” vaccines lacking active adjuvants require more help from bacterial signaling, according to Science.

“These results demonstrate an important role for gut bacteria in shaping immunity to vaccination, and raise the possibility that the microbiome could be harnessed to modulate vaccine efficacy,” says Dr. Bali Pulendran from Emory University.

These studies underscore how important it is to take a multi-species probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Advanced Junior (for kids) to boost your immune system, especially if you’re considering getting a flu shot.

10 Ways to Protect Yourself this Flu Season

With autumn upon us and cooler temperatures on the way, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already begun posting comprehensive dos and don’ts about the 2013-14 flu season (that can begin as early as October and end as late as May). These reminders include all the reasons you absolutely need to get a flu shot.

However, if you’re feeling a little shy about getting a flu shot, there’s plenty you and your family can do to protect yourselves from the flu. Here are 10 completely safe, effective and natural ways to protect your health from the flu and boost your immune system naturally without a flu shot.

1) Wash your hands early and often with plain ol’ soap and water for at least 15 seconds to get rid of germs that may linger. There’s no need to use antibacterial soaps.

2) Don’t forget the exercise. Staying active with some kind of exercise program will help you stay a few steps ahead of the flu.

3) Get the right amount of sleep you need every night. Skipping valuable sleep time to catch the end of a late football game will catch up to you over time, leaving your body vulnerable to diseases like the flu.

4) Don’t overdo the antibiotics. Taking antibiotics every time you’re sick can deplete your immune system residing in your gut, leaving your body more vulnerable to disease.

5) Drink plenty of water. Depleting your body of the natural fluids it needs is one more variable among many that makes your body more vulnerable to the flu.

6) Keep your home extra clean to repel the bugs. According to the CDC, human flu viruses can survive as long as 8 hours on common surfaces (doorknobs, books and doors).

7) Take care of your emotions. Our go-go-go lifestyles don’t leave much time for you to handle stress as well as you should, so give yourself the gift of time—ideally 30 minutes a day—for you.

8) Eat the right foods, every day all the time. Even something as simple as a hot liquid like chicken soup may more helpful in treating congestion than consuming the same thing at room temperature.

9) Get enough vitamin D. However, before supplementing your diet with vitamin D, health experts like the Vitamin D Council recommend getting your blood levels checked often.

10) Take a multi-strain probiotic every day gives your body’s immune system a much-needed boost. Not only can taking a multi-species probiotic restore the healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut, but it also boosts your body’s immunities naturally and safely.

Also, studies have shown probiotics containing lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium lactus strains like EndoMune Jr. can decrease cold and flu symptoms in kids, too.

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