How probiotics build your immunity?
There are many factors that can influence our immune system. One involves our gut and bugs or microorganisms called probiotics.
You may have heard of probiotics before and wondered what they are? What they do? And how to include them in your diet?
What are probiotics
The word probiotic has come from the Latin preposition “pro,” meaning “for” and the Greek word “biotic” meaning “bios” or “life”.
Probiotics are natural live microorganisms (or ‘good bacteria’), when in adequate (live) amounts promote health and wellbeing. Some benefits include: keeping the lining of the gut healthy, aiding in digestion, absorbing nutrients, influencing our mood and supporting the immune system.
Keeping our good bacteria healthy?
This ‘good bacteria’ feeds off a type of fibre called prebiotic fibre. This fibre is like a food or fertiliser for the probiotics, stimulating the growth. Prebiotic fibres are found in foods such as apples, pears, onions, nuts and cooked, cooled potatoes or rice that form resistant starch (starch resistant to digestion).
The good gut bacteria ferment the prebiotic fibre producing fatty chain fatty acids that are responsible for many of the health benefits probiotics provide.
The greater the diversity of good gut bacteria the better it seems. We still have a lot to learn about this whole microorganism system.
Probiotics and the immune system
Did you know a healthy gut microbiome may help keep our immune system strong? It does this by:
- Sending signals to the immune system with the help of the short chain fatty acids produced by the good gut bacteria. The fatty acids cross the gut lining into the blood stream and travel around to various parts of the body’s immune system
- The good gut bacteria can also form a barrier along the lining of the intestinal (gut) wall, that prevents the viruses (bad guys) from entering the bloodstream
- Probiotics help with digestion and absorption of nutrients in the gut
Absorbing a variety of nutrients is important for the functioning of the immune system, therefore when the gut is not working well nutrients can miss out on absorption and you may not have all the nutrients you need, for your immune system.
Common types of probiotic bacteria
The common beneficial types of probiotic bacteria are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. You will commonly see the types of bacteria present in the ingredients lists of food products as well as in the number of bacteria; CFU (colony forming units). Bifidobacterium are particularly useful for digestive issues and may increase bowel regularity. This is the main probiotic found in Rokeby Farms Probiotic Yoghurt.
There are thousands of different gut bacteria. It is important to look for probiotics that have a known health effect for a condition you may be trying to treat.
Where can you find them?
Beneficial bacteria can be found in fermented foods, in particular yoghurt, sauerkraut, miso and kimchi. They are considered probiotic if there are sufficient numbers with a known health benefit. That doesn’t mean fermented foods with smaller amounts aren’t beneficial. It may just mean research is yet to show what the health benefit of these bacteria are.
Rokeby Farms probiotic yoghurt, Filmjolk has 15 different cultures including Bifidobacterium. You may also find them fortified (added) in foods or as supplements.
Favourite way to enjoy probiotic containing foods are:
- Using a mix of Rokeby farms Probiotic Yoghurt (Filmjolk) with muesli and seasonal fruits for a pre or post training snack or breakfast.
- Yoghurt and berries
- Using kimchi in poke/nourish bowls
- Having sauerkraut or kimchi in a sandwich
Fermented and probiotic foods are just another way to aid our health and wellbeing.
If you have symptoms it is always best to seek advice from a health professional such as your GP or Accredited Practising Dietitian.