Add the title of “flu fighter” to the already impressive list of health benefits associated with probiotic supplementation.  A recent scientific study measuring the effectiveness of the immune system, when supplemented with probiotics, against the flu virus, demonstrated daily probiotic usage may improve response, especially in patients over 70 years of age.

Probiotics Join the Battle Against the Flu

The flu is responsible for 30,000 to 40,000 deaths each year.  Annual flu deaths are a result of direct infection with influenza, as well as a result of secondary infections and complications of the flu.  It is also estimated that the flu affects between 300,000 and 500,000 people worldwide each year.  Any case of flu that results in death, or even illness, is a direct result of infection resulting from a failed or weakened immune system; this is especially true in elderly flu victims.

This new research into the relationship between probiotics and flu response is especially promising; there appears to be a positive correlation between probiotic usage and immune response to influenza virus.  Adding to the interest of the medical community, these findings demonstrate to be especially effective in people over 70.

Specifically, the research found that daily supplementation with probiotics appears to increase the production of the immune system’s production of influenza antibodies, strengthening the body’s response to fending off the flu.  Considering that the elderly are particularly susceptible to contracting the influenza virus, supplementing with probiotics could prove to be a life-sustaining practice.

Probiotics are the “good” bacteria found mostly in healthy digestive systems.  There are over 100 trillion bacteria in our digestive systems; for optimal health, experts recommend 85% of these bacteria be probotics.  In addition to supporting healthy digestion and digestive function, probiotics also support healthy immune function.

While not widely known, the digestive system is an integral component of the immune system; it is estimated that 90% of all immune system function starts in the digestive tract.  So, not only are probiotics important in supporting proper digestive function, they are vital in ensuring our body’s immune system is able to fend of foreign bacteria and viruses, including influenza.

Probiotics are available in a variety of products, but are mostly consumed through yogurt, kefir, or supplemental sources.  Nutritionists recommend consuming at least 10 billion colony forming units, or cfus, of probiotics each day; this is typically the amount found in a serving of yogurt or kefir.

While probiotics are available in several food sources, probiotic supplements seem to be the most convenient way to introduce good bacteria into your system.  Perhaps the key benefit to probiotic supplements is they come in controlled amounts, meaning you control the amount you consume.

Ranging anywhere from 10 billion to 250 billion cfus per serving, probiotic supplements allow you to consume enough good bacteria to effectively introduce them to the digestive tract and improve your immune and digestive health. This is especially important the protect the health and wellbeing of our aging population.

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