If you take nothing else away from this article, let it be this: you have at your disposal tools to bolster your immune system and drastically reduce your risk of colds and the flu. You do not need a vaccine to do this. In fact, a vaccine could easily make your health worse.
And one of these "tools" that I urge you to look into right away is good bacteria, or probiotics.
Eighty percent of your immune system is located in your digestive system, so it makes perfect sense that probiotics would be very effective at warding off cold and flu viruses
Remember, a robust immune system is your number one defense system against ALL disease, and in order to keep your immune system in top working order you must have a healthy balance of good to bad bacteria in your gut (the optimal balance is about 85 percent "good bacteria" and 15 percent "bad").
The researchers in this new study actually found quite significant benefits among 3- to 5-year-old children who received either a single strain or combination of probiotics twice a day for six months.
Compared to the placebo group, the single and combination probiotic groups had reduced fever by 53 percent and 73 percent respectively, decreased coughing by 41 percent and 62 percent, and reduced runny noses by 28 percent and 59 percent.
Antibiotic use was also 68 percent and 84 percent lower, respectively, which is a major gain in and of itself because antibiotics are vastly overused in children and contribute to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Why are Probiotics so Important?
Probiotics are one of only two supplements that are recommended to all new patients who come to the Natural Health Center that I stared in 1985 (the other being an omega-3 fat supplement). It's also one of the few supplements that I personally take every day.
In many cultures, probiotic-rich food and drinks, such as the fermented superfoods natto, kefir, lassi (an Indian yogurt drink) and sauerkraut, are an integral part of the daily diet.
If you eat a diet rich in fermented foods like these that have NOT been pasteurized (pasteurization will kill the probiotics), then you will likely enjoy great digestive, and immune system, health.
However, if you find yourself strongly drawn to processed foods or rely on mostly cooked foods, as is commonplace in the United States, the balance of bacteria in your digestive tract will have a hard time staying optimal.
This is most unfortunate because this ratio between the "good" bacteria and the other bacteria is one of the critical factors determining your optimal health, as the good bacteria are essential for:
The probiotics in your gut also play a role in helping numerous bodily functions, such as:
Sugar is also an incredibly efficient fertilizer for growing bad bacteria and yeast in your gut, so if you indulge in a lot of it you're fueling the bad bacteria rather than the good.
Likewise, stress, pollution, and taking antibiotics can further upset the balance in a negative way.
Since helpful bacteria are increasingly absent in most people's diets, it is important to purposely include foods that contain live probiotic bacteria in your diet, or take a probiotic supplement especially since flu season is just around the corner.
Here's What You Need to Know to Avoid the Flu This Year
Now is the time to start making healthy changes that will keep you virtually immune to cold and flu viruses. If you follow the tips I recommend, you can easily sail through each and every winter (and fall, spring and summer) without so much as a case of the sniffles.
How do I know this?
Because I have not caught the flu in over 20 years, and you can avoid it too without getting vaccinated by following these simple guidelines.
If you feel that stress is taking a toll on your health, consider using an energy psychology tool such as the Meridian Tapping Technique (MTT), which is remarkably effective in relieving stress associated with all kinds of events, from work to family to trauma
Also, be careful not to overdo it. Washing your hands too much can actually remove much of the protective layer on your skin and increase your chances of acquiring an infection.
August 18, 2009
Copyright © 2009 Mercola.com