Probiotic-packed foods boost body’s immunity

By Efrosini Costa

Probiotic-packed foods boost body’s immunity
Autumn is almost upon us, and with it comes a plethora of common infections such as cold and flu, making it an optimum time to safeguard our immune systems.

While most of are familiar with the benefits of probiotics on gut health and balancing good and bad bacteria, what is less known is the knock-on affect this has for your overall health and immunity.

Your digestive tract is where good health begins.  Pathogens and toxins can enter the body through your skin, lungs and even your mucous membranes. But the largest source of microbial agents comes from your digestive system.

With a  very large surface area the digestive tract comes into direct contact with infection-causing bacteria, parasites and viruses and it’s surface area presents a natural defensive challenge, thanks in part to many immune cells that protect against such illnesses.

In fact the digestive tract is a very active immune centre and is thought to contain almost 70 per cent of the body’s total immune system.

While bacteria often gets a bad wrap, during the dreaded cold and flu season it can be your best friend. Our intestines – both large and small – are hoem to roughly 100 trillion live bacteria, most of which are vital to good health.

This intestinal microflora consist of both friendly probiotic bacteria and harmful pathogenic bacteria that co-exist in a complex ecosystem.

The balance of ‘friendly’ bacteria can easily be disrupted by lifestyle factors like stress, poor diet, antibiotics and exposure to toxins. These disruptions can compromise your health and even lead to digestive issues and a weakened immune system.

Replenishing your gut with probiotics, or good bacteria, so that they outnumber the bad bacteria and prevent them from multiplying and growing, can help prevent imbalances in gut ecology – helping digestive system and also the overall function of your immune system.

The best way to do this is through your diet. Foods that contain probiotics like yoghurt.

Probiotics are yogurt’s key ingredient. But surprisingly, not all yogurt sold in supermarkets and health food stores actually contains “live and active cultures,” as the bacteria in yogurt are known.

Some companies heat-treat yogurt after culturing, which kills off bacteria, both good and bad, to make it more shelf-stable and reduce tartness.

Designed to taste good and help regulate your digestive system, Activia yoghurt is made with an exclusive probiotic culture, bifidus regularis.

Bifidus Regularis has been shown to survive passage through the digestive tract in sufficient amounts for Activia to help regulate the digestive system*

Other probiotic-packed foods include miso, sauerkraut, kefir, natto, tempeh and even kimchi, korean fermented cabbage.

To maintain a healthy microflora, small amounts of probiotic foods need to be consumed several times a week.


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