The gut flora controls your immune system
Up to 80 per cent of the immune system's cells are in the gut. Good gut bacteria can support the immune system and help you not to get tired, cold or get the flu. A quick way to strengthen the immune system is to take probiotics, such as lactic acid bacteria from the genus Lactobacillus.
Probiotics can help improve mood and cognitive function as well as mitigate stress and anxiety. A 2016 study showed that Alzheimer's patients who consumed milk containing four probiotic bacterial species for 12 weeks performed better on a test that measured cognitive function compared to those who drank regular milk. Another study found that women who ate yoghurt with a mixture of probiotics, twice a day for four weeks, were calmer when exposed to images of angry and scared faces compared to a control group. The yoghurt group also had lower activity in the part of the brain that processes inner body experiences - such as those derived from the intestine.
The bacterial flora looks different in different people. The research has not yet succeeded in giving a clear picture of what the optimal gut flora should look like to keep us healthy. However, many point out that a variety of bacteria provides better immune systems, stronger resistance to disease and better health.
In the sensitive intestinal tract, most of your immune cells live. There are also a variety of neurotransmitters, such as neuropeptides. These can be likened to a small brain that is partially independent, but which also communicates with your “ordinary” brain and tells what happens, especially when something is wrong. If there are too much stress, worry and pathogenic bacteria in your intestinal tract, then signals are sent to the brain that the intestine is not feeling well, which means that you are not feeling well.
The immune system you can strengthen
It is therefore vital to eat a diet that promotes healthy gut bacteria, strengthens the immune system and produces beneficial vitamins and fatty acids. The food you eat is nutrition for all inhabitants of the body – everything from your cells and the good bacteria to the malignant disease-causing bacteria.
The basis of the immune system is already laid at birth when the child inherits some of the mother’s bacteria, but the intestinal flora develops until the child is four years old. You get the bacteria through you through the food and through the surroundings. The intestinal flora affects the non-innate immune system, the so-called adaptive immune system, and is the part of the immune system that we can affect ourselves.
You can build the adaptive immune system by adapting your body to a life where it is exposed to bacteria and viruses. There is no solution to try to avoid viruses and bacteria altogether. Then you do not give the body the right conditions to strengthen the immune system. However, you should make sure you take care of the immune system properly so that it stays healthy and can defend your body against attack.
Stress degrades the immune system
It is quite fast to change the gut flora – both for the worse and for the better. This means that a lot of junk food, sugar and fat can quickly leave room for unpleasant disease-causing bacteria, while a large plate of vegetables fertilizes the good bacteria.
Stress releases a variety of neuropeptides and other neurochemical substances that can eventually affect the essential functions of the immune system. Stress can be the most difficult to fight, and stress affects digestion, which can contribute to bowel problems.
Studies on astronauts who are considered to live under constant stress have shown a severe deterioration of the diversity of the gut flora. For example, a decrease in the probiotic lactobacilli was detected while the deadly bacteria increased sharply. Also, athletes and students under pressure and stress lose large parts of the bacterial flora and get a weakened immune system that can make them sick.
Better nutrition and less stress are the basis for a good immune system, but to be on the safe side, you can add one more thing – probiotics. A well-studied preparation is ProbiFrisk where each tablet contains one billion probiotic bacteria. ProbiFrisk has two bacterial strains – Lactobacillus paracasei 8700: 2 and Lactobacillus Plantarum HEAL 9.
Clinical studies have shown that the supplement reduces the risk of getting a cold by almost 30 per cent and that the symptoms also decreased by 30 per cent. Most of the subjects who participated in the studies also recovered faster than those who received placebo. Analyzes show that it is the combination of these two bacterial strains that strengthens the body’s resistance to infections while allowing researchers to identify an apparent anti-inflammatory effect.
The immune system is affected
Other studies have found that the so-called NK cells increase upon intake of probiotics in the supplement. NK cells are the body’s first defence against bacteria and viruses. The researchers also saw that the memory cells got some increased activity, which indicates that the body is increasing its readiness to defend itself against infections.
When you are exposed to a virus, the body responds that you have a headache, sniff or sore throat. In conjunction with this, T helper cells and B lymphocytes increase. Analyzes showed a decrease in B lymphocytes that could also be linked to a reduction of T-helper cells, which indicates that these probiotics have an anti-inflammatory effect. It is the explanation for why the cold is relieved, and you heal faster is already cold.