immune system

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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

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

 

 

sterile white couch

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.

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.

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