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Probiotics in Cheese Boosts Immune Response in Seniors

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Cheese, consumed daily, can boost immune response in elders. Declining immunity experienced with aging puts elders at risk for infection that can lead to hospitalization and debilitation. Eating probiotic containing cheese daily could help reverse the effect of deteriorating immune function associated with aging.

The findings come from researchers in Finland. Lead study author Dr. Fandi Ibrahim from the University of Turku in Finland explains, "The increase in the proportion of aged individuals in modern society makes finding innovative ways to thwart the deterioration of the immune system a priority." Dr. Ibrahim says cheese carries the same probiotic bacteria as other products, and can be an easy way to "enhance the immune response".

Decreased immune function that occurs with aging is known as immunosenescene. Decreased immunity is linked to cancer, infection, and chronic inflammation. Ibrahim's team found that probiotic cheese activated NK (natural killer) blood cells and increased the body's ability to destroy invading bacteria, known as phagocytosis.

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Blood tests were performed among nursing home residents age 73 to 103 to find the immune boosting activity of cheese. One group of seniors was given placebo, and other ate probiotic containing Gouda cheese, found by researchers to boost immune response in the elders studied.

The researchers say "We have demonstrated that the regular intake of probiotic cheese can help to boost the immune system and that including it in a regular diet may help to improve an elderly person's immune response to external challenges." Foods that enter the intestinal tract change bacteria in the gut. Eating the right foods can help the body fight disease and keep the immune system healthy.

Earlier studies from the researchers evaluated the effect of yogurt and milk as probiotic immune boosters. The current study involved 31 elders who ate cheese containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 and Lactobacillus acidophilus. The scientists say they have not determined long term outcomes on the general health of elders from consuming probiotic cheese. Blood tests showed that eating cheese with probiotics enhance immunity and could help elders fight infection and other diseases related to immunosenescene.

FEMS Immunology & Medical Biology