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Many know probiotics as digestion related microorganisms. But the reality is that the intestinal flora has a lot more applications than this. First of all, probiotics are not necessarily linked to the digestive system. These are bacteria that are present throughout the human body, both in and out.
However, they are mostly crowded around the gut area and, as the study have revealed, around 80% of the immune system is also based on that region. Is it a coincidence? Well, no. As a matter of fact there is an interdependent relationship between gut health and the effectiveness of the immune system.
The microbiota seems to influence how well our organism copes with harmful agents and how well the system reacts against biological, chemical or any other type of threats. This all starts when we are young, immediately after our birth. As the baby finds himself into the real world, the immune system immediately begins to grow.
But how exactly? What is the process behind the facts? It is all about the bacteria. They are everywhere and while some are harmful and have the potential of triggering all sorts of diseases, there are others that are not and they actually work quite the other way around. These are commonly known as good bacteria and their initial role is to fight off the intruders and help the organism develop its own natural defense.
While this only happens in the first stages, these bacteria never cease to act in the same manner throughout our entire life. Their influence over the immune system never stops and it helps it to improve over time. This is because new strains of harmful bacteria appear as the agents multiply and adapt to the environmental changes. These changes may be caused by us, by the fact that we are talking medications to expel them, or vaccines to get protection, or by our microbiota.
Let’s have a closer look on vaccines
There is an interesting fact here and that is that bacteria are always evolving. Let’s take vaccines, for instance, because there is a lot of fuss about them on the internet. People are claiming that vaccines are in fact harmful, and one of the reasoning that they are using to support their claims is the fact that we have to do the same vaccines every year.
Take the flu, for instance. If it were true that the anti-flu vaccine would immunize you against the said virus forever, then why do you have to do the same vaccine over and over again? If the immune system becomes familiarized with the virus through the said vaccine, then why is there necessary for another similar shot one year later? What, does the immune system forgets?
Actually, the explanation is pretty simple. Viruses evolve. It may seem awkward, but they are evolving as our immune system is evolving. In other words, you could say that they vaccines are causing the viruses to evolve and adapt, which is true, but this is what the circle of life is.
The reality is that vaccines did not cause the viruses in the first place. They are naturally occurring organisms. All that the vaccines have done was to help the body grow a better protection against them. As a response, the viruses adapted and looked for a way around it.
With every vaccine you take, the body releases antibodies to cope with the intruders, in this case with the flu virus. But, at the same time, the virus itself will try and go around it and will develop new features that will allow it to avoid and beat the immune system and resist to the antibodies a lot better.
This means that the virus has adapted and that the vaccine you took in the past is now useless. You need another one in order to teach the immune system about the newly developed strain, for it to take measures accordingly. Another set of antibodies will be created, this time ready for the modified bacterial strain.
It is all an interdependent relationship. The viruses are trying to pierce our natural defense, we are trying to withstand their threat as best as we can. This only means that we should have a proper developed immune system in order to cope with the intruders. At the same time, an equally effective microbiota is crucial in the process.
The bacterial mass living in the gut area is doing the same thing. It is evolving over time, becoming more effective and constantly creating new strains to deal with the intruders. But before we move along, I still have a last addition to make, since we are still at the Vaccines area.
There are also a lot of arguments coming from increasingly more people according to which vaccines are dangerous since they imply inserting a sample of the virus inside the body. In other words when looking to immunize yourself against flu virus, you are injecting the said virus into the body, and cause it to release antibodies to deal with the intruders.
In this case, are not the vaccines dangerous? What if, by doing it, something goes wrong and you become infected? What if the intruders are not destroyed by the vaccines and they end up multiplying instead?
You could call this a valid argument, if the viruses were alive. But they are not. Vaccines only contain either dead or intentionally damaged viruses, that cannot reproduce nor do any harm. They only serve as food for the antibodies and the biological microbiota, thus teaching the bacteria how to deal with the same agents when the threat becomes real.
We have written this section as a response to a somewhat public frenzy regarding vaccines and their effects. People need to know the reality and not take for granted any claims coming from either those who have no credentials, or those who are trying to deceive people on purpose.
How do probiotics work in relation to the immune system?
First of all, you have to think of these microorganisms as disposed in layers. There are some that are active at skin level, others in the gut area, liver and basically everywhere throughout the body, even in the respiratory system. They each have their own role and they belong to different strains.
However, we will be focusing on those in the gut area, because this is the region that has to deal with all sorts of toxins and harmful pathogens all the time. It is because the digestive system is the biggest bacterial entry in the organism. It is all natural that the immune system is located in the gut in 80%.
Aside from benefiting the digestive system by helping smoothing the digestive system, and improve the nutrients absorption, these microorganisms composing the gut flora also deal with any potential intruders. In this regard we have to consider both harmful pathogens and various toxins or potentially hazardous substances.
Now we are coming to the serious part and we have to talk about the factors that may influence the development and the preservation of a perfectly efficient and fail-proof gut flora. There are a lot of factors that could quickly destabilize the digestive environment, like:
- An imbalanced diet, consisting in mainly junk food, for instance and lacking fibers and vegetables
- Excessive fatigue and daily stress and depression, leading to an immunity drop and the multiplication of the foreign unwanted agents
- Antibiotic intake, which will kill both the good and the bad bacteria. In these cases, probiotic supplementation is definitely required
- Contaminated food, leading large numbers of dangerous bacteria into the digestive system, like Staphylococcus and Clostridium
As you may have guessed, these are not the only causes, but these are those which you need to really pay attention to.
What does science say?
This is the realm of facts. Enough talking, there is time to present some real studies and findings that have linked probiotics with a more effective and reactive immune system. Here are some of them, these being just a tiny fraction of all the studies and researches that are constantly taking place all over the world:
- 2 double blind experiments took place in 2005, during which several hundred subjects received both probiotic supplementation and placebo pills. Those in the probiotic intake group were receiving Lactobacillus Rhamnosus and Lactobacillus Reuteri over the course of 3 months. At the end of the period, around 35% of those in the placebo group reported to have been suffered from various digestive problems, as well as having experienced certain illnesses. Those in the probiotics group have had none of that. The percentage was 0, which was quite an astounding discovery.
- A similar study took place in 2008, when the researchers have studied the possibility that certain probiotic strains could be useful in fighting off allergic rhinitis. Over the course of 5 months the subjects received probiotic supplementation and the results were even more than the researchers have expected. They identified changes in the production of cytokines, which was an indicator for an increased immune response against this condition.
However, what you see here are just some of the studies, because there are literally hundreds that have been made over time, aiming to deal with one or more probiotic claims. Although there are more to be discovered, certain benefits cannot be questioned. Probiotics are truly effective in providing you with undisputed biological support, which makes them incredibly efficient and sought after in the today’s health market. It is no wonder that there are hundreds upon hundreds of probiotic supplements available and even more are being produced weekly.
There are several aspects that we need to discuss here. First of all, keep in mind that probiotics are not medication. They are simply live organisms flourishing in the human body. The supplements that are being produced using them contain high quantities of live bacteria. That is right, the bacteria is alive when entering the body. After that, whatever happens inside is part of the nature.
This is why people are so fond of buying these supplements, because everything is natural, there is no risk of contracting side effects or any health hazards whatsoever. They seem to be the most effective alternative to all those ineffective and useless health products that are promoting fake benefits.
Probiotics are perfectly natural and you can even purchase them in pharmacies around the country. The professional supplements are even more effective. This being said, go for them and stay healthy!