Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that are known to help digestion and a host of other concerns. Studies now indicate that specific species of probiotics may help elevate mood, enhance our immune system, protect the heart and are even known to protect our teeth and gums.
The specific make-up of these probiotic bacteria in the gut is determined by your genetics, eating and drinking habits and other lifestyle factors such as stress. These beneficial bacteria in the gut release lactic acid which inhibits pathogens from thriving in the gut and thus preventing infections.
Scientists have also discovered that complex interactions between these bacteria are responsible for the optimal function of the immune system. Our bodies secrete an antibody called immunoglobulin A, IgA, which is normally found around the membranes lining the nose and the upper respiratory tract. It is this antibody that acts as a first line of defence against bacteria and viruses. Unfortunately, as we age, levels of IgA decline making many of us susceptible to bacteria and viruses.
Can probiotics prevent respiratory infections?
Scientists have found that specific strains of probiotics encourage the production of IgA and other antibodies which may help to protect the body against colds. This is termed “secretory immunity”. This brings us to the question; how can taking a probiotic lead to increased secretion of IgA in the nose and throat?
Every day we swallow billions of bacteria and viruses through our mouth and through our respiratory system. The linings of the nose and respiratory tract contain specialised antigen cells called dendritic cells which play an important role in adaptive immunity. These dendritic cells detect molecular patterns on the bacteria and viruses which enter the nose and respiratory tract. Depending upon the nature of the threat, they then signal the appropriate amounts of IgA to be secreted by immune system cells. Larger quantities of IgA are secreted if there is an increased threat of infection.
However we know that as we age, our adaptive immunity is under threat because we simply do not secrete sufficient amounts of IgA which means that when there is a threat of infection, our bodies cannot cope with the threat.
A specific probiotic called FLORASSIST® Immune Health contains selected strains of bacteria which are capable of stimulating the intestinal immune system. This in turn results in an increase in secretory immunity which means greater levels of IgA. IgA antibodies work to deactivate bacteria and viruses presenting them for destruction by the immune system. Blocking viruses from attaching to the mucous membranes prevents viruses injecting their genetic material which prevents their replication.
Studies indicate that supplementing with the specific strains of probiotic strains found in FLORASSIST® Immune Health resulted in significant reductions in the number of incidences of infections. There was an 81 percent reduction in cold-type infections when compared to the placebo group. Additionally, these studies also indicate that the duration of respiratory infections is markedly reduced.
A respiratory infection can pose serious threat to adults and more so for ageing individuals. Taking a specific probiotic supplement such as Life Extension’s FLORASSIST® Immune Health may be invaluable to protect against respiratory infections and the complications which may arise from these.