CAN PROBIOTICS PREVENT FLU AND COLDS?

CAN PROBIOTICS PREVENT FLU AND COLDS?

Respiratory tract infections and probiotics During the 2013-2014 winter, my family accounted many episodes of Respiratory Tract Infections (RTIs). I, my husband, and both my daughters were experiencing recurrent RTIs, and this saga lasted for about 6 months. My older daughter missed about 60% of her daycare days and my younger one about 90% of daycare because of RTIs. It was a tough burden (physically, emotionally and financially) for me and for my husband. Luckily, the last winter of 2014-2015 was much better; my daughters were only sick a few times and it was quite mild. Having the entire family suffering from recurrent RTIs, it was a wake-up call for me to look for ways to improve our health. The changes we have made were mostly around our diet and included the consumption of probiotic supplements, more fermented food, more vegetables, more salads, more fiber, more bone broths, less sugars, reduced intake of diary milk products, reduced consumption of wheat and gluten, and no processed food. Even though it’s not the season of colds and flu now, I want to give some attention to “RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTIONS AND PROBIOTICS”. RTIs typically include cold, upper respiratory tract infections, influenza-like illness and flu, the majority of which is caused by a virus.  Associated symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough, sometimes fever and may last between 5 to 10 days. Children, on average, suffer from 6 to 12 RTI incidents annually, whereas adults average from 1 to 5 incidents. The management of RTIs typically includes the use of over-the-counter medications to relieve some of the symptoms. The average cost of...
RIGHT FROM THE START: GUT MICROBES IN INFANCY

RIGHT FROM THE START: GUT MICROBES IN INFANCY

Bringing my daughters into this world was quite an unforgettable experience. I had a lot questions and uncertainties prior to giving a birth for the first time so I took birthing workshops, pregnancy yoga classes, and a lactation workshop to prepare myself better for what was going to happen. These preparations certainly gave me some degree of confidence, yet looking back I feel like there was still something missing. Everybody kept elaborately telling how the baby goes through the birth canal and how to push, but nobody mentioned anything about the importance of the surrounding microorganisms in the first minutes, days, weeks of a newborn’s life. As governed by Mother Nature, babies acquire their first significant dose of microorganisms from their mothers during the birth. Bacteria colonize the newborn’s every surface, including their skin and the mucosal membranes of the digestive tract, respiratory tract and urogenital tract.  This population of microorganisms (microbiota) remains with us from birth to death, helping us maintain balance by constantly responding and adjusting to internal and external factors. Learning more about human microbiome, in infancy and through the lifespan, can help answer some fundamental questions, such as its importance in our health and disease. Interestingly, the most recent findings contradict the common belief that the healthy maternal womb is a sterile environment, and that the fetus is not colonized with bacteria until the birth. Thus, the new studies have found commensal bacterial species in placenta, amniotic fluid and fetal meconium, suggesting that the microbial acquisition actually happens before the birth. During the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, as the fetus matures it swallows more amniotic...
Gut feelings – gut microbes contribute to our MOOD and BEHAVIOR

Gut feelings – gut microbes contribute to our MOOD and BEHAVIOR

It seems weird to think that our gut microorganisms may have something to do with our mood and our behavior. We know now that they play a role in many diseases, but do they also have a say in how we feel? Actually, yes, they do! There is a growing number of publications on the subject and I was prompted to write this piece after reading a recent (April 2015) article about the effect of probiotics on the activation of negative thoughts associated with sad moods. Please read on if you want to find out more about the results of this study. In the human body, in nature, nearly everywhere, microorganisms form complex and sophisticated communities of cells that communicate with each other by means of a special language, a sort of microbial language. They produce so called “language” molecules that they can sense and respond to accordingly. During my doctoral research, one of my study topics was to look at the signaling (“language”) molecules of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic human pathogen. It uses the signaling molecules to communicate with other bacteria of the same species or other species, to switch on and switch off certain genes/functions. The great spectrum of molecules produced by bacteria plays various functions within the bacterial community itself and within their host, affecting thus other bacteria and affecting their host, for example a human body. There are up to 1000 microbial species in our gut and the molecules produced by these microorganisms help them to occupy certain intestinal niches (neighborhoods), to compete with other microorganisms for food, to communicate, to establish their role within...

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