Medicinal plants, vitamin C supplements, recipes with garlic and onion, grandma’s tips: we’ll try anything to keep cold and flu germs away. All of these tactics—whether or not they actually work or are backed by scientific evidence—aim to do the same thing: improve the immune system’s effectiveness.
Boosting our immune system to help prevent cold and flu is not a myth. We can train and support the immune system. Good hygiene and regular hand washing are a must, but to create a bona fide army to fight viral or bacterial intruders, we also need to eat a proper diet and take our daily probiotics.
Our diet provides us with the building blocks we need to keep our immune system strong. Consuming enough high-quality protein on a daily basis has been shown to increase our white blood cells. These 'soldier' cells are responsible for fighting off intruders, so keeping them healthy is critical. Other micronutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, selenium, and iron also have a positive impact on our resistance to infections if consumed in high enough quantities.
But a healthy diet is only one part of the equation in cold and flu prevention. New scientific discoveries have linked the number of good bacteria in our body to our ability to resist infection - its why we need a daily probiotic to help prevent cold and flu.
Our Intestines, Our Stronghold
Our gut plays an important role in the immune system. The intestines have a mucous membrane which secretes antimicrobial molecules. These secreted molecules can destroy or inhibit the growth of illness-causing bacteria. We call this the 'chemical barrier'.
Our intestinal defense doesn't stop there. The cells of our intestines also provide a physical barrier to the outside world. When our microbiota is healthy, the intestinal cells stick tightly together, preventing bacteria or viruses from passing into the bloodstream. When our gut-bacteria is out of balance, however, the cells may become inflamed creating 'gaps' that allow germs to enter the bloodstream, making us ill.
Feed Your Bacteria: Probiotics to Boost Your Immune System
A healthy intestinal mucous membrane needs a diverse microbiome, primarily dominated by good bacteria. Feeding these families of microorganisms to optimize their concentration is a critical step in a healthy digestive tract.
Consuming a daily probiotic, like Bio-K+, has well-documented effects. Thanks to Bio-K+'s high active bacteria content (50 billion CFU), and ability to resist stomach acid, the probiotic bacteria reach the large intestine, allowing the product to work effectively.
But consuming good bacteria is not enough - you have to keep them well nourished, to boost their effectiveness. What foods to consume to strengthen your immune system? Fiber! Fiber is to bacteria what dessert is to people - Yum!
At the International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine, a committee of physicians recommended the consumption of 50g of fiber per day to improve and maintain intestinal health. That’s a lot of fiber! But we can start to increase our consumption of fiber simply by eating more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, instead of processed foods.
From Theory to Practice
It’s so easy to change out your daily yogurt for a bottle of Bio-K+. It is enriched with calcium and vitamin D and contains less sugar than most commercial yogurts because the bacteria in Bio-K+ feed on the natural sugars that are added to the product. As a bonus, taking Bio-K+ gives you 50 billion good live and active bacteria that work together to boost your immune system by preventing illness-causing bacteria from developing.
We also need to take advantage of rainy fall days to cook healthy meals full of colorful seasonal vegetables, full of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. And why not take on the added challenge of making one vegan meal per week, to increase your fiber consumption?
If you top this off with good stress management and regular physical activity, you have the perfect cocktail for preventing colds, flu, and seasonal infections.
Let’s start preventing cold & flu this season!
Do you have a question about staying healthy this season or a topic you would like us to discuss? We’d love to hear from you. Contact us, or find us on Facebook and Instagram. For more healthy tips, join our community. If you’re looking to stock up on Bio-K+ products, head to our store locator.
Sonnenburg, E. and Sonnenburg, J. (2016). L’étonnant pouvoir du microbiote, Montreal, Éditions Édito, p. 152.
Desautels-Marissal, M. (2016). Mille milliards d’amies: comprendre et nourrir son microbiome. Montreal, Éditions Cardinal.
Henrike, M. Hamer, et al., “Review article: the role of butyrate on colonic function,” Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, vol. 27, no 2, January 2008, p. 104-119.
Les milles et une avenues du microbiote et l’approche FODMAP: Pour qui et comment?, Roxanne Papineau Dt.P.
Hogenauer et al. 1998. Mechanisms and management of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. CID. 27:702–710.CPS, CPhA 2008- Individual Monographs
Preidis and Versalovic. 2009. Targeting the human microbiome with antibiotics, probiotics,… Gastroenterol. 136(6):2015-2031
Gao et al. 2010. Am J Gastroenterol.
Beausoleil et al. 2007. Can J Gastroenterol.
Psaradellis and sampalis. 2010. Arc Med Sci.
Maziade et al. 2013. CMRO