Ask most New Zealanders what they think of when they hear the word “bacteria”, and they’ll probably tell you something harmful. But not all bacteria are bad guys – and some are not just friendly, but actually essential for our overall wellbeing. These strains of bacteria are often referred to as “beneficial” or “probiotic” bacteria.
Billions and billions of probiotic bacteria from over 400 species thrive naturally in a normal digestive system. Not only do they play a role in keeping your digestive tract healthy, but they also support your entire immune system.
Many people don’t realise the extent to which a healthy digestive system influences their overall health and wellbeing. However, given that most of the micro-organisms that enter your body do so through your digestive system, the association makes sense.
Your intestinal lining provides one of the single greatest surface areas through which illness-causing viruses and bacteria can enter your body. So if the lining isn’t acting as the barrier it should be, it may well be letting harmful organisms through.
The link between probiotic bacteria balance and a healthy immune system
Beyond this general interaction of your digestive and immune systems, the probiotic bacteria in your gut can support your immunity in several ways. Five of these include:
It’s important to realise that a vast number of specific probiotic strains exist, and each can affect our bodies differently.
If you’re looking for a scientifically researched probiotic supplement to support your immunity, speak to your local pharmacist or health food store expert. They’ll be able to explain which products contain which strains, and what you can realistically expect from taking each one.