Global Application of Probiotics on Immune Health
Probiotics, also known as beneficial flora, have long been known to be present in the human gut, but for years our knowledge of why they are there was limited. We knew that they helped our body produce some of its own B vitamins, as well as vitamin K, but not much was known beyond that. As a result, the beneficial flora did not get a lot of attention despite the fact that these two functions alone should have been enough for us to highly value and protect our beneficial flora. B vitamins play a huge role in human health from energy production to production of important neurotransmitters that help fight stress. Vitamin K is crucial for helping us utilize calcium in our bones, and that proper utilization dramatically im- pacts heart health by keeping the calcium from building plaque in our arteries.
Later we learned that beneficial flora also support overall intestinal health by fermenting fibers and producing something called short chain fatty acids, which are the fuel that intestinal cells use for their various activities. So I have long been an advocate for the use of probiotics for human health, and for reasons beyond even the nutritional ones – the immune health reasons. For example, it was known that probiotics seemed to be protective against the development of allergies. This came from observations in studies of children with allergies which found that children who developed allergies had taken several rounds of antibiotics in young childhood compared with children with no allergies. So we knew that probiotics played some kind of role in immunity, but the exact mechanisms by which it did that were not known until more recently.
This article is available in full in the Spring 2020 issue of Nutraceuticals Now