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Going probiotic

Most people have heard that supplementing with probiotics can help alleviate a range of digestive health problems. But did you know that probiotics can also be a force for helping boost your immunity as well as rebalancing the body after a previous illness?

We spoke to naturopathic doctors Erik Altmann, at our La Jolla store, and Catherine Orsi, at the West Seattle Pharmaca, about why probiotics can be a beneficial addition to your flu-season routine.

"A large component of the immune system exists in the intestinal tract," says Dr. Altmann. "If there's an imbalance between the good and bad flora, it can affect immunity." One reason is because the intestinal tract is like real estate says Dr. Altmann. "If there are more of the good guys present, then there's less room for the bad guys to take root."

Dr. Altmann adds that when disease-causing bacteria take up residence in the gut, they can secrete toxins that in turn weaken the protective mucosal layer on the intestinal wall, as well as your lymph nodes. This makes fighting off flu germs that much harder on the body.

Having a healthy intestinal tract also helps the body absorb immune-supporting nutrients. Dr. Orsi recommends Pharmax HLC Maintenance for this job. "If your intestinal tract is not healthy, everything is going to start falling apart because you're not getting what you need from food."

Dr. Orsi also champions probiotics for their ability to heal the damage done from infections, inflammation and antibiotics from previous bouts of cold and flu. "Antibiotics not only kill off the bug you're trying to get rid of, but they kill off the beneficial bacteria as well," says Dr. Orsi. "Even one course can throw it off, but if you've had more it's even more important." She says a product like Pharmax Symbiotic Intensive is best for a post-antibiotic treatment.

Dr. Orsi also warns that nasal sprays can dry out mucous layers, making it difficult for good bacteria to thrive. She recommends using PretzNasal Moisturizing Spray, or a neti pot, instead. Additionally, upper respiratory infections may lead to inflammation and impair mucous membranes, creating an unsupportive environment for good flora.

Finally, Dr. Altmann adds that good bacteria can be diminished by stress and poor nutrition, so it's especially important during flu season to support your system and immunity with plenty of sleep and healthy eating. For more information about the benefits of using probiotic support this flu season, speak with a practitioner at any of our Pharmaca stores.

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