We can all appreciate the beauty of autumn—relief from summer heat, beautiful changing leaves, crisp cool nights—but sometimes the changing of the seasons isn’t so pleasant, especially when it comes to the dreaded sneezing, itchy eyes, and runny noses that seem to crop up at this time of year. The truth is, as summer comes to an end and the kids head back to school, we all can become more susceptible to ear, nose, and throat issues.
Whether it’s the billions of ragweed pollen grains traveling hundreds of miles through the air or the inhospitable microbes quickly making their way through your child’s second-grade class, fall is a time of challenge for your immune system. While summer usually gives a reprieve from these common irritants, fall often requires your entire body and immune system to step it up!
The good news is that making sure your oral microbiome is in tip top shop will help you to usher in this season while feeling your best.
Your Oral Microbiome
You’ve probably heard about the gut microbiome, which houses the majority of microbes in your body. But when it comes to upper respiratory health, did you know that your oral microbiome is just as important? It’s true!
The oral microbiome is the ecosystem of over 700 different species of bacteria living in your ears, nose, mouth, and throat. If your gut is the hub (where 80% of your immune system resides), your oral microbiome is the gatekeeper, monitoring what goes in and how far it gets into your delicate system.
Considering that you ingest and inhale billions of microbes every day (a vegan diet alone includes around 6 million microorganisms 1), it’s no wonder your oral microbiome plays an important role in your health and well-being.
You see, when your oral microbiome is full of beneficial microbes (called probiotics), common irritants and bad guy bacteria are less likely to be able to settle in and give you sinus or other upper respiratory issues.
Beneficial Bacteria for Common Fall Issues
As late summer begins to turn to fall, weeds all over North America start to pollinate and grains float through the air, making their way into our noses, mouths, and throats - creating issues for an estimated 50 million Americans.
Fortunately, studies show that you may be able to fortify your system by making sure you have plenty of the good guy bacteria working on your behalf to keep you healthy during this time of year 2. In one research trial, five weeks of supplementation with L. paracasei led to significant relief and quality of life improvements in patients struggling with seasonal sniffles 3.
And, if you struggle with that unpleasant stuffy, full head feeling, you’ll be happy to know that researchers have discovered that patients who experience sinus issues have different, less beneficial sinus microbes than non-sufferers and that the probiotic, L. sakei, protects against the bacteria that can cause problems4.
Certain probiotic strains, like S. salivarius K12 (BLIS K12™), can even travel to your throat and inner ears to crowd out and destroy bad guy bacteria trying to settle there. In one study, supplementation with BLIS K12™ led to a 65% decrease in ear issues, even up to 6 months after treatment5!
We know that probiotics work year-round to support our digestion, modulate our immune system, balance our blood sugar, and regulate our moods (among many other things), but which of the good bugs should we take for upper respiratory health?
Oral Probiotics to the Rescue
Of course, your gut microbes play a big part in keeping you healthy, but when it comes to your upper respiratory system, the other superstars are the probiotics living in your sinuses, throat, ears, and mouth.
While digestive probiotics are meant to make their way all the way to your gut, oral probiotics need to be chewed or dissolved in your mouth and travel locally within your oral cavity to your ears, nose, and throat to promote health and well-being.
Here’s what you can do to encourage optimal ENT health this season:
1. Take a probiotic specifically designed to support the oral microbiome. For adults, Hyperbiotics PRO-Dental includes four targeted strains of oral probiotics for both dental and ENT health. PRO-Kids ENT is formulated for kids, with the same four strains plus L. sakei for sinus wellness.
2. Stay away from products that can deplete the probiotics in your oral microbiome, such as sugary foods, smoking, and antimicrobial ingredients and antibacterial chemicals common in many mouthwash and toothpaste brands. Try natural toothpaste and coconut oil instead!
3. Only use antibiotics when absolutely necessary. Antibiotics in food and as medicine can indiscriminately wipe out all the beneficial bacteria in your body, including the good microbes in your mouth, nose, throat, and ears.
4. Eat for your microbes! Did you know that what you eat can affect your microbiome? Choose foods that support your beneficial oral bacteria, especially prebiotics that come from plant-based whole foods like asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke, dandelion greens, and bananas. Steer clear of artificial sugars, emulsifiers, and processed foods—all of which can deplete probiotics.
As the summer sun fades and the days get shorter this fall, taking care of your oral microbiome can help you continue to live your healthiest and most vibrant days!References:
Emily Courtney is a Writer and Editor at Hyperbiotics and mom to two fun and active boys. Emily is passionate about natural wellness and helping others learn about the power of probiotics for vibrant health! For more ideas on how you can benefit from the power of probiotics and live healthier days, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.