Research appearing in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism (Feb 2011) looked at the use of probiotics and their effect on the immune systems of 58 athletes. The 58 subjects of the study were randomly assigned to receive either a probiotic supplement (Lactobacillus casei Shirota) for a period of 16 weeks. The placebo group had 36% higher incidence of upper respiratory infections (URTI) compared to the group receiving the supplement. According to the authors, “regular ingestion of LcS appears to be beneficial in reducing the frequency of URTI in an athletic cohort, which may be related to better maintenance of saliva IgA levels during winter period of training and competition.”
Let’s put this into words that most people can understand.
The number of microorganisms in your gastrointestinal tract greatly outnumber the cells in your body; your gut has about 100 trillion microorganisms and your body has about 10 trillion cells. This gut “ecosystem” has dramatic affects on many different body systems, especially your immune system.
Essentially, stress in any form (structural, chemical, or emotional) can irritate the sensitive lining of your digestive tract and thus, affecting the amount of gut bacteria that are actually attached to the lining of your digestive tract.
For example, many times long distance runners find that while they are training for competition their immune system will crash and flu type symptoms appear. Why is that and what does that mean? Intense training for competition, especially a marathon, can be very physically stressful. And…stress (of any kind) can irritate the lining of your gut. And as I noted above, your gut has a big affect on your immune system.
Another common situation is antibiotic use. Antibiotics will not only kill “bad” bacteria, but will also kill the “good” bacteria. Which is why people notice antibiotics affecting their immune system and their digestive tract.
Here are some things that you can do to help yourself in this situation:
add natural probiotic rich foods to your diet like kefir, sauerkraut, and good quality yogurt.
avoid sugar. this alters your gut environment and can feed other microorganisms like candida (yeast).
use coconut oil for cooking. This oil has caprylic acid in it which has anti fungal properties.
supplement with a good quality probiotic that has mainly Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium. These make up the majority of the “good” bacteria in your gut.
Hopefully this sheds some light on a sometimes confusing topic and helps you RECLAIM YOUR HEALTH.