immune system

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.

How Do You Take a Probiotic?

So, you’ve finally realized there are many reasons why you need to take a probiotic, but that’s only the first step toward improving your gut health.

How you take a probiotic — ideally with multiple species of beneficial bacteria — is even more important, as it helps you get the best value for your family’s health and your pocketbook.

Healthy kids and adults

Most healthy adults will get a much-needed boost to their immune system and gut health if they take a probiotic, ideally, about 30 minutes before eating a morning meal on an empty stomach.

This simple routine for most adults makes sense, based on the findings of a 2011 study featured in the journal Beneficial Microbes, that showed fewer good bugs contained in multi-species probiotics survived in smaller numbers through the upper gastrointestinal tract after a meal (when stomach acid is usually at its highest).

For small children age 3 or under, parents can protect their developing immune systems and reduce episodes of colic or diarrhea by sprinkling a probiotic in a powdered form (like EndoMune Junior) in a noncarbonated formula or liquid or on soft foods before or with a meal once a day.

Then, once your kids reach age 3, they can “graduate” to a chewy, fruity probiotic of their own (like EndoMune Junior Chewable).

When you’re sick

Another important consideration is how to take a probiotic when you’re sick. In fact, it’s becoming more common to see people taking a probiotic when their doctor prescribes an antibiotic, based on growing concerns about antibiotic-resistant infections.

Antibiotics can do a great deal of harm by wiping out the healthy bacteria in your gut and allowing bad bugs to hang around and cause more problems, like the persistent diarrhea associated with Clostridium difficile (C.diff).

Ideally, you’ll want to give your body at least a two-hour break in between taking a probiotic and antibiotic to allow those live and very beneficial probiotic bacteria an opportunity to protect your gut.

Before you begin taking a probiotic, it’s also critical to talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have, especially if you have a health condition that requires taking specific drugs, like antifungal products or immunosuppressants.

Deciding on adding a probiotic to your daily routine is one of the easiest things you can do for your health. But knowing how and when to use a probiotic effectively can make all the difference in your health for the long haul.

A diverse gut protects your health during immunotherapy treatments for cancer

For many cancer patients, undergoing chemotherapy or radiation are often a necessity, but they come with lots of risks depending on the severity and length of treatments.

Rather than bombarding tumors with chemo and radiation, however, some patients and their teams of doctors are choosing other cancer-fighting approaches like immunotherapy that work far differently.

Immunotherapy focuses on treating your body’s immune system to fight cancer either by supercharging a patient’s immune system or teaching his/her body how to spot cancer cells and eradicate them. Also, in some cases, immunotherapy can aid in a cancer patient’s recovery long after treatments have ended.

But not everyone responds well to immunotherapy, which has researchers scrambling for answers.

Over the years, cancer researchers have learned how good gut health plays a critical role in protecting cancer patients during chemo treatments.

A diverse gut microbiome may also be very important in how well the human body handles certain forms of immunotherapy, according to a study presented at a recent symposium sponsored by American Society of Clinical Oncology.

A team of researchers, led by senior study author Dr. Jennifer Wargo from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, studied the connections between a healthy gut and the benefits of immunotherapy by examining fecal and oral bacteria samples taken from more than 200 patients fighting metastatic melanoma, an advanced form of skin cancer.

Ninety-three patients received an anti-PD1 immune drug that blocked a pathway protecting tumor cells from a patient’s immune system equipped to fight it.

From that smaller group, scientists studied fecal samples provided by 30 patients who responded to immunotherapy and 13 more who didn’t.

No surprise, patients who responded to the anti-PD1 drug had greater diversity of gut bacteria and for a specific type of bacteria (Ruminococcaceae). Plus, an examination of their tumors uncovered a greater number of cancer-fighting immune system cells (CD8+T).

On the other hand, patients whose bodies didn’t react to immunotherapy drugs had much lower gut diversity and one specific family of gut bacteria (Bacteriodales).

“Meanwhile, we need concerted research efforts to better understand how the microbiome may influence immune responses, as well as an in depth view on how we can tweak the microbiome so that more patients can benefit from immunotherapy,” said Dr. Wargo, an associate professor of genomic medicine and surgical oncology, according to a press release.

Some of that tweaking may come from changing a patient’s dietary habits or boosting the diversity of their gut by recommending a probiotic, scientists said.

Although taking a probiotic is beneficial for your health, many believe eating a cup of yogurt or taking a cheap supplement containing one or two strains of bacteria is good enough.

The real value of taking a multi-strain probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic: Ten strains of beneficial bacteria plus the prebiotic FOS provide 20 billion allies that protect your health every day.

Could one molecule affect your immune health?

Since the development and wide use of penicillin during World War II, and a long time afterward, antibiotics were considered the Holy Grail of modern medicine.

That was true until our bodies became exposed too often to antibiotics and anti-microbial substances in the foods and soaps we use, cancelling out any benefits, crippling our immune systems and creating more serious diseases and conditions in their wake.

Researchers at the University of Chicago may have discovered a missing link on white blood cells that tie our immune system to higher amounts of good bacteria, according to a study appearing in the journal Immunity.

In tests on mice, scientists learned intestinal immune cells — type 3 innate lymphoid cells (ILC3s) — were crippled in responding to bacterial infections when lacking a single, binding ID2 protein.

Without this protein, ILC3 cells were unable to produce IL-22 molecules that spur other intestinal cells to create antimicrobial peptides, which protect our bodies from infections.

Researchers confirmed these results after transplanting ILC3 cells with or without the ID2 protein into germ-free mice. Animals not receiving the ID2-enriched immune cells were unable to fight off infections when exposed to bad bacteria, while those given protein-enriched cells resisted them.

“Given the rapid rise of harmful bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, it is paramount that scientists find methods of limiting harmful bacterial infections without the use of antibiotics,” says Dr. Yang-Xin Fu, senior author of the study in a press release.

“For future patients who are infected with harmful bacteria, it might be beneficial to promote the development of good gut microbiota to indirectly kill harmful bacteria, instead of using antibiotics.”

Back to penicillin, Dr. Alexander Fleming discovered the wonder drug in 1928 and was one of three scientists awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for its development 17 years later.

During his acceptance speech 70 years ago, Dr. Fleming warned people that overuse of penicillin to fight disease might be linked to the very same bacterial resistance problems we face today.

However, there are very natural and safe ways to maintain the balance of good bacteria in your gut that antibiotics deplete, with the help of probiotics.

A rule of thumb about taking probiotics: Waiting about two hours after taking an antibiotic to take a probiotic will lessen the risk of the drug diminishing the billions of live, beneficial bacteria that protect your health.

Also, you’ll want to take a probiotic that contains multiple strains of beneficial bacteria, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Junior.

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