What are probiotics and how do they help strengthen the immune system
Include yogurt, miso, kefir, or tempeh in your daily diet and your body’s natural defenses will be grateful.
A sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, stress, and lack of sleep are only a few of the factors that weaken the immune system, making it vulnerable to attacks. Ámina Alani, head of the Digestive Health Unit at SHA Wellness Clinic, tells us that, “the intestinal immune system makes up the largest and most complex part of the body’s immune system. It receives an enormous antigen load every day and is able to distinguish between invasive pathogens and innocuous antigens in foods and commensal bacteria.” Because of this, what we eat is essential for a strong defensive system and probiotics help us to attain it because, as the doctor explains, “these live microscopic organisms provide a wide range of benefits such as contributing to the strengthening of the immune system, balancing the intestinal flora, stimulating vitamin production, and supporting digestion.”
Of course, according to the Spanish Society of Probiotics and Prebiotics, in order to consider a microorganism a probiotic, it has to meet these five characteristics:
- It must produce antimicrobial substances such as acids, bacteriocins, or hydrogen peroxide.
- It should be resistant to certain characteristics in the cavity where it will remain or has to travel through. For example, it should be resistant to gastric acid or bile secreted in the duodenum.
- It should not be able to transmit its resistance to antibiotics.
- It should be easily culturable and must not go bad during storage.
- It should successfully pass an in-vitro test and should also be effective once it is introduced into the body.
Also, Ámina adds, “probiotics enrich intestinal microbiota and both are key for the functional maintenance of the intestinal immune system in adults. The beneficial effect of these probiotics is applied through different mechanisms, such as contributing to the expansion of lymphocytes in the intestine or the production of immunoglobulin A (IgA), which is essential for neutralising enzymes, viruses, and toxins, and the control of processes in which the immune system can be affected such as chronic inflammation or autoimmune processes. Consequently, continuous contact between the immune system and certain healthy bacteria, such as intestinal microbiota or exogenous probiotic bacteria, can provide daily training so it is able to control a possible pathogen attack.”
All in all, if you want a strong immune system, include natural probiotics in your diet such as fermented products (kombucha, kefir, chucrut, umeboshi, yogurt, miso, or tempeh), or get them through prepared probiotics, as in SHA Probio dietary supplements (https://shawellnessclinic.com/sha-boutique/es/producto/sha-probio-110-capsulas/). Either way, and as the doctor recommends, “natural probiotics should be present in our regular diet, because they enrich the microbiota and help maintain its balance.”