Probiotics for Immune Health

Updated: Sep 2

Probiotics can help support our immune system.

We talk about probiotics for gut health and metabolism, but did you know they play an important role in our immune system?

Probiotics can help reduce the incidence of colds, as well as improve influenza vaccination on some strains commonly affecting our health. Below are the top strains studied for their benefits in reducing incidence of the common cold and influenza virus.

What to consider when choosing a probiotic

Be I always look at the company's quality, focus, and research related to their supplements. While almost every supplement company these days has a probiotic on the market, is it their specialty? Choosing a company that specializes in probiotics is something to consider when deciding on a product. Research is another important factor when choosing a product. Third party testing means that there is a separate quality check by a private company to ensure potency, quality, and purity.

  1. At least 1 billion CFUs (colony forming units) per serving.

  2. Potency guarantee, should have a guaranteed potency expiration date.

  3. Third-party tested, a private company is testing for potency and purity.

Our microbiome plays a major role in our health and particularly our immune health. The goal for supporting overall health and disease prevention is to have a large variety of bacterial strains present in our microbiome. I also recommend incorporating natural fermented foods to help keep your microbiome strong.

Fermented foods should always be refrigerated in order to preserve bacteria. Fermented foods include: yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and you can find many other vegetables and fruits that have been fermented and jarred for preservation.

In addition to eating a healthy diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables (all carry some bacteria naturally on them), you will want to properly manage stress, sleep, and avoid antibiotic treated animal products. All these factors affect our microbiome health. Below are the top studied bacterial strains for their benefit on immune health. Incorporating a probiotic helps to boost our protection, especially during the cold and flu season.

The Common Cold

  • 1 billion CFU of Lactobacillus paracasei & Lactobacillus plantarum, once per day for three months was found to reduce the incidence of developing more than one cold and the number of days with a cold. (1)

  • It is believed these protective bacterial strains reduce the growth of B-lymphocytes, which are the immune cells that initiate the antibody response. This can help to reduce symptoms.

  • Find my top probiotic recommendations for immune health below.

The Flu (Influenza)

  • 10 billion CFU of Lactobacillus fermentum, once per day for two weeks before getting a flu vaccine and continued for two weeks after was found to reduce the incidence of getting the flu five months after compared to getting the flu vaccine alone. (2)

  • It is believed this specific strain increases our body's natural killer cells and T helper cells which help the body adapt to immune responses.

  • 10 billion CFU of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, twice per day for four weeks after influenza vaccination was found to increase our body's protection against the viral strain influenza A. (3)

  • 500 mg of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (EpiCor®), once per day for twelve weeks helped to reduce the incidence of cold and flu symptoms with or without a flu vaccination. This strain was also found to reduce the length of symptoms. (4)

  • Find my top probiotic recommendations for immune health below.

When choosing a supplement, make sure you are choosing high-quality brands that use third-party testing, clean ingredients, and avoid artificial fillers.

If you haven't already, create your free account on Fullscript dispensary to find practitioner-approved supplements with trusted quality control at lower prices.

My Top 5 Probiotics for Immune Health

1. Metagenics Ultraflora Immune Booster

This probiotic provides a blend of highly viable, pure strains of “friendly” bacteria, Lactobacillus paracasei and Lactobacillus plantarum, which support healthy nasal, sinus, and respiratory function. These are the two strains used in the study on reducing the common cold.

2. Klaire Labs Therbiotic Complete Probiotic

This high-CFU, hypoallergenic blend of 12 probiotic species offers a complete spectrum of microorganisms providing broad coverage to support a healthy balance of microbiota across the entire gastrointestinal tract. Scientifically formulated with a full spectrum of synergistic and complementary species.

3. Ortho Molecular Ortho Biotic Probiotic

Ortho Biotic includes a carefully assembled cast of probiotic organisms to support microflora balance and maintain a healthy environment for vitamin uptake and optimal immune function.

4. Klaire Labs Therbiotic Factor 1

L. rhamnosus is gaining recognition for its systemic immune-enhancing ability and is known to produce the biologically desirable lactic acid. This product has 20 billion CFUs per capsule and ensures maximum delivery of live microorganism throughout the intestinal tract.

5. Jarrow Formulas Saccharomyces boulardii + MOS

This strain helps protect and maintain a normal intestinal microflora. It also works to restore the normal intestinal microflora when possible disruptions may occur, such as, during travel or the intake of certain medications. MOS (MannanOligoSaccharides) is an oligosaccharide from the cell walls of S. cerevisiae that can discourage harmful bacteria.

It is always recommended to consult with your physician before starting a new supplement. Those with severe illnesses or compromised immune systems should avoid using probiotics.

Create your free account on Fullscript dispensary to find practitioner-approved brands you can trust for quality control and lower prices.

Interested in taking next steps to balancing hormones and healing your gut? Check out my Hormone Hub group program here!

Liz Riesen, Registered Dietitian

specializes in digestive and hormone imbalances. Often these conditions coexist and share common disruptive symptoms including mood changes, bloating, pain, irregular cycles, inflammation, and more. Liz is trained in identifying and healing food sensitivities, as well as balancing hormones naturally through nutrition and lifestyle.

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