When most folks think about beneficial bacteria, the first thing that may come to mind is probiotic tablets for digestive support. And while these types of bacterial formulas can absolutely help maintain healthy digestion, that’s only a small part of a much bigger picture.
That’s because the gut is the foundation of overall wellness, and the friendly microbes known as probiotics that live there actually help keep every single one of your body’s systems in top shape—including your immune system!
Discover the fascinating connection between your microbiome and immune function, and how probiotics can provide some serious immune system support.
It’s All About the Gut...
Did you know that not all of you is actually, well, you? Each of us hosts a unique community of trillions of bacteria collectively called the microbiome—in fact, they outnumber your human cells by a landslide!
Don’t worry, ideally the vast majority of these bacteria (about 85%) are good guys, designed by nature to keep you healthy.1 They crowd out the kinds of bacteria you don’t want and help support your digestion, energy levels, sleep, moods, and even hormonal balance.
So what’s the connection between probiotics and the immune system? Well, the vast majority of your probiotic friends live in your gut, and (surprise!) that’s also where most of your immune system resides. The microbiome and immune system are in constant communication, so the state of one system continually affects the state of the other.2
And recent research indicates that when you maintain the populations of some of the most beneficial microbes, it’s easier for your immune system to keep you well throughout the seasons.3,4
Meet Your Microbial Superheroes
You’ve had beneficial bacteria in your body since before you were born, and that’s a great thing! These microscopic good guys are the beginning foundation of a baby’s immune system, and they continue to work throughout life to both discourage harmful bacteria and encourage a balanced immune response.
How do they work their magic? Your microbial heroes toil tirelessly to support your immune function by:
Helping to maintain a strong gut barrier. It may seem counterintuitive, but your gut is actually outside of your body! That’s right, it isn’t until food and nutrients make it through the gut wall and into your bloodstream that they are technically “inside” your system. Your friendly flora act as security guards at the gut barrier by encouraging the assembly of specific proteins and activating cells to make sure your gut wall’s tight junctions (the sealed spaces between cells) are strong—which works to keep out irritants, toxins, and unwanted microbes that can upset the immune system’s delicate balance.5
Competing with inhospitable microbes for space and food. Think of your intestinal wall like a huge parking lot. When you maintain a robust population of beneficial microbes, they take up the majority of the parking spaces and resources, helping to crowd out the bad guys you don’t want around. After all, if the microbial menaces don’t have space to settle near your gut barrier, their ability to park, establish a home, and push their way into your body is greatly diminished. Parking lot full!
Producing healthy compounds. Probiotics naturally produce a number of beneficial compounds—like metabolites, enzymes, and short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs)—that support your immune system.6 In fact, butyrate, an SCFA end product of prebiotic fermentation (aka a postbiotic) is a crucial source of energy for the cells that line and protect your gut.7 Some bacteria can also produce acids and antimicrobial substances that ward off harmful bacteria before they can make their way into your body.
TLC for Your Tiny Friends
Because of the complex way your gut and immune system interact, when you care for the probiotic community in your gut, you’re also helping to keep your immune system in good form. This means a gut-healthy lifestyle is one of the best things you can do to maintain a robust immune system. What else should be top of mind? Making sure you have enough of the good guys on board in the first place!
Modern life is tough on the microbiome, so it’s important to provide your body with plenty of helpful microbes. Adding a premium, chewable probiotic supplement formula like Hyperbiotics Immune Defense to your daily routine provides effortless support by replenishing your gut with two potent strains clinically studied to support immune function.
Then, it’s time to give your microbial helpers a feast! Prebiotics are plant fibers that provide the perfect nourishment for your probiotic friends, and they’re plentiful in foods like apples, blueberries, asparagus, onions, and garlic. It’s challenging to get enough prebiotics from diet alone, though, so try stirring some organic prebiotic powder into your healthy smoothies and soft foods for added support.
The loving care you give your friendly flora will return the favor with more gifts than you can imagine. When your probiotic community stays strong, you’ll enjoy a lifetime of glowing immune function that can keep you enjoying your happiest, healthiest, and most fun days ever!
1. Panda, S., Guarner, F., & Manichanh, C. (2014). Structure and functions of the gut microbiome. Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders Drug Targets, 4, 290–299.
2. Vijay-Kumar, M., Chassaing, B., Kumar, M., Baker, M., & Singh, V. (2014). Mammalian gut immunity. Biomedical Journal, 37(5), 246. doi:10.4103/2319-4170.130922
3. Fujimura, K. E., Demoor, T., Rauch, M., Faruqi, A. A., Jang, S., Johnson, C. C., … Lynch, S. V. (2013). House dust exposure mediates gut microbiome Lactobacillus enrichment and airway immune defense against allergens and virus infection. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(2), 805-810. doi:10.1073/pnas.1310750111
4. Van Baarlen, P., Troost, F., Van der Meer, C., Hooiveld, G., Boekschoten, M., Brummer, R. J., & Kleerebezem, M. (2010). Human mucosal in vivo transcriptome responses to three lactobacilli indicate how probiotics may modulate human cellular pathways. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(Supplement_1), 4562-4569. doi:10.1073/pnas.1000079107
5. Rao, R. K., & Samak, G. (2013). Protection and Restitution of Gut Barrier by Probiotics: Nutritional and Clinical Implications. Current Nutrition & Food Science, 9(2), 99-107.
6. Mu, Q., Tavella, V. J., & Luo, X. M. (2018). Role of Lactobacillus reuteri in Human Health and Diseases. Frontiers in Microbiology, 9. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2018.00757
7. Vanhook, A. M. (2015). Butyrate benefits the intestinal barrier. Science Signaling, 8(378). doi:10.1126/scisignal.aac6198
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