Living through a global pandemic is a bit strange, isn’t it? One day, you’re feeling energised about all the things you can accomplish with all this extra time. The next, you’re binge-watching Netflix and eating chips for dinner.
The one consistent thing? We’re all looking for ways to stay as healthy as possible (chips for dinner notwithstanding). From regular hand-washing to researching how to boost your immune system, keeping your body strong and protected against viruses is a definite priority right now.
So did you know that probiotics can offer amazing immune system benefits? Yup! They’re not just good for tummy upsets and digestive issues. Incredible, right? No wonder we love ‘em so much at Nexba HQ; and we reckon you will, too.
What are probiotics?
When most of us hear the word ‘bacteria’, we think about germs and other nasties. We assume they’re something we need to get rid of (antibacterial wipes, anyone?) But, actually? Some bacteria are the good guys.
Our bodies are home to trillions of live bacteria – both good and bad. The good ones help us to digest the food we eat and extract all the good stuff (aka nutrients) from it. They also help our bodies to create important vitamins.
So, what does all this have to do with probiotics? Well, probiotics are the good guys – the live bacteria that are beneficial for our bodies.
You can find them in the food you eat or take them as supplements, and they’ve been linked to a whole range of health benefits including:
- supporting gut health
- improving immunity
- lowering cholesterol
- reducing eczema symptoms
- helping our bodies to create vitamins.
If you’re into the science, you can read more about the studies that have uncovered these health benefits here.
So how exactly do probiotics benefit your immune system?
Your gut plays an important role in protecting your body from toxins, harmful bacteria, viruses and other potential nasties. It acts as an immune barrier for your body, and the good bacteria living there help to guard your health.
According to research, the good bacteria in your gut may help your body to fight off harmful bacteria by:
- crowding them out
- producing acids that inhibit their growth
- stimulating your immune system.
Once probiotics get to your gut, they can grow and multiply there, helping you to maintain a healthy bacterial balance and strong immune defences.
How to take probiotics for immune system benefits
Things get a little tricky when we start to look at the variety of probiotics available on the market. Researchers have discovered 11 different species of good bacteria, with some species each having several different strains.
And research has linked different strains of bacteria to different health benefits. That’s not surprising – after all, just think about the wildly different health issues that different harmful bacterial strains cause. For example, the bacteria Salmonella strains cause food poisoning, Streptococcus strains cause strep throat and Staphylococcus strains cause golden staph infections.
Now, while there’s solid research on how some strains of bacteria work and what they do, not all strains have been put through rigorous testing. So, it’s important to check whether the probiotics you take have actually been linked to the specific health benefits you’re hoping to gain.
The other thing to consider is whether your probiotics will make it to your gut intact. They can be delicate little blighters that don’t cope so well with changes in temperature, humidity and acidity. That means the journey through your digestive tract can prove treacherous for them.
The key takeaway? If you’re going to take probiotics, always check:
- which strain you’re taking, and what the research says about them
- whether they’re actually live when you take them
- whether they’re guaranteed to stay that way, so they can do their job when they reach your gut.
Nexba’s favourite probiotic
Our Nexba nerds have looked into the world of probiotics a lot and the one they’ve settled on to boost the health-giving profile of our drinks? Bacillus coagulans – a smart, robust little guy that’s primed to deliver a good-gut-punch. But why do we think it’s the best probiotic to take? Because…
- it’s been widely researched with proven health benefits
- it’s very stable, meaning it can stay alive without needing to be kept in the fridge
- it’s encased in hard, protein-like shells that help them to survive the harsh conditions of your stomach and make it all the way to your gut intact.
Better for your immune system than chips for dinner
But still easy to do while you’re binge watching Tiger King. Grab a gut-loving, health-giving probiotic drink today.