Flu symptoms protection: A healthy gut with pre-biotics and probiotics
Flu symptoms are a common winter ailment as temperatures drop and viruses begin to circulate. When it comes to supplements for combating winter illnesses, vitamin C – and more recently vitamin D – come to mind. However, there could be a key area of the body you’re neglecting when it comes to building up your body’s natural defenses through diet: Probiotics and prebiotics are integral to a happy digestive system – and they could help boost your immunity too.
Gut health and immunity are closely related. Healthy gut flora is positively associated with good overall immune status. That’s because probiotics look after the health of your gut – an organ in which 70 to 80 per cent of the immune system lives.
So, how do probiotics and pre-biotics help our gut? “The gut is host to the gut flora which is an environment of billions of microbes,” said Dr Cunliffe. We can boost our gut flora by consuming probiotics or by consuming pre-biotics, which are the food for probiotics. According to which pro- and pre-biotics we consume, we can encourage and boost the growth and numbers of specific strains of organisms.
The principal is that by boosting the ‘good bacteria’, we are by definition ‘squeezing out’ the bad bacteria. Therefore, consuming pre and probiotic foods we can re-balance our gut flora and improve our feeling of well being.
As well as boosting the immune system, a healthy gut enables us to properly extract nutrients from our food. It can also prevent dysbiosis – an overgrowth of bad bacteria – which can cause bloating, cramps and irritable bowel symptoms.
Research also indicates that the right balance of gut flora can positively influence our mood and stress levels.
Probiotic foods may already be in your refrigerator! Eat Yogurt, Miso, Kefir, Saurkraut or Sourdough bread. Feed your gut flora Onion, garlic, chicory root, cocoa, apples, barley or flax seed to help those probiotics work better.