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Probiotics could help with flu prevention

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Food containing probiotics

Probiotics are associated with intestinal health, but the benefits are shown to extend to respiratory health. Probiotics can boost systemic immunity, and may help with flu prevention.

A study published last year in the August issue of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) Pathogens showed that probiotics can reduce inflammation. Lead investigator, Dr. Liam O'Mahony, explains, "Inflammation is a major factor in a number of chronic diseases affecting millions of people and can cause an unwanted impact on healthy tissueā€¯. Recent studies show that inflammation may be a major factor leading to respiratory complications from flu.

Researchers found immune fighting capability of probiotics containing Bifidobacterium infantis 35624, taken from healthy human tissue, from studying mice infected with Salmonella. After being treated with the probiotic for three-weeks, the mice showed a dramatic increase in T-cells that boost immunity, as well as a host of other helper immune cells. Keeping immunity in top shape could help with flu prevention in upcoming months.

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Probiotics that might help prevent flu include yogurt, and some cheeses. Some experts believe a diet rich in prebiotics, combined with probiotics are best for help prevent diseases such a flu and respiratory illness.

Prebiotic and probiotic foods combined could be helpful when considering ways to keep from getting flu and reducing risk of other infections. Foods containing beneficial prebiotics include honey, whole grains, onions, leeks, dietary supplements, fortified foods, garlic and bananas.

Probiotics that can help fight flu and other diseases are found in food and supplements. The probiotic Bifidobacterium infantis offered a significant amount of protection from infection, as well as acting as a mediator to inflammation, concluded in the aforementioned study.

Immune fighting foods containing probiotics could help with flu prevention. When considering ways to boost immunity and fight against flu, consider the benefits of disease fighting foods containing prebiotics, combined with foods and supplements containing probiotic Lactobacilli or Bifidobacteria strains. Using probiotics to boost immunity and help prevent disease is not a substitute for immunization or other recommendations from healthcare experts.

Functional Foods Fact Sheet: Probiotics and Prebiotics