Probiotics are introduced to our bodies through the foods we eat, health products we use, and supplements that we take. Probiotics have been shown to positively affect our immune health. Probiotics are good bacteria that are beneficial to our health. Probiotic bacteria come in many different types known as strains.
Knowing which strains have been studied can make a difference in how you choose to add probiotics to your diet. It’s important to pay attention to what strains have been studied by researchers when you’re looking at taking the product for a specific condition.
The medical community isn’t completely certain how probiotics work with the immune system. Some products that claim to boost or support your immune system may not have scientific evidence behind them to support such claims. With that said, researchers at Harvard Medical School and others have found a connection between the bacteria in your gut and your immune system. In an article published by Harvard Publications, probiotics expert and director of the Division of Nutrition Dr. Allan Walker was quoted as saying “Probiotics have been shown to secrete protective substances which turn on the immune system and prevent pathogens from taking hold and creating major disease.”
Here are four probiotic strains that have been studied and show evidence of improved immune health:
Lactobacillus GG, is among the most researched probiotics in the world. Over 400 published studies have documented its remarkable affects on immune health. In the past few years, researchers have discovered new benefits of this strain far beyond basic digestive health. This includes its inhibition of pathogens and their toxins, as well as its role in helping to restore and re-set immune function. Similar to C in the world of vitamins, Lactobacillus GG is both the most researched and the most trusted, effective, and safe immune system boosting probiotic known.
According to a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a subspecies of B. animalis was found to increase cellular immune response. Another study using B. animalis showed that 84% of children taking two doses per day experienced a decrease in the number of cold symptoms. These findings are consistent with the theory that immune system functionality is influenced by the use of probiotic supplements.
“Early studies found that L. acidophilus supplementation may affect early immune responses to allergens and vaccines. However, there is conflicting evidence. Effects on other immune disorders remain unclear,” according to an article from the Mayo Clinic.
A subspecies of L. paracasei was examined in a study published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases. The study found that sub species paracasei appeared to act as a barrier to damage caused by Staph infection. Other studies have also showed positive immune responses from L. paracasei.
Note: Probiotics are widely regarded as safe for consumption by the general population. Some conditions are potentially serious however and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.