Build Immunity Before Kids Enter the Germ FactoryVitality Magazine September 1, 2012
By Caroline Farquhar, R.H.N.
It’s that time of year again when kids go back to the “germ factory.” In other words, school. Kids stay indoors more, get less exercise, and pass around germs. They’re stressed about school and peer pressure. Many have poor diets and bad sleeping habits, and all of this leads to increased stress levels, which spell disaster for the immune system. Once kids bring illnesses home to the family, it gets carried to the workplace infecting co-workers, who in turn bring it home, and round and round it goes.
Now that you understand the cycle is it any wonder that cold and flu season happens at the same time every year? The second biggest hit comes at Hallowe’en because of all the sugar we consume. Sugar suppresses the immune system by paralyzing white blood cells.
So, what can we do to survive this onslaught? Build your immune system.
One of the things that can help are probiotics. Probiotics, meaning “for life,” are the good bugs that keep our guts healthy. Eighty percent of our immune system is found in our bodies’ digestive tract, which means that if your gut is imbalanced, so is your immune system.
What do probiotics do for us? They support immunity, maintain intestinal barrier function (lets good things in and keeps bad things out), reduce inflammation, support nutrient digestion, manufacture vitamins, protect against pathogens, and enhance detoxification.
Probiotics offer three levels of immunity: while the virus is still in your intestinal tract, good bacteria surround and neutralize the virus; the good bacteria form a barrier along your intestinal lining to prevent the virus from passing though the intestinal lining and into the bloodstream; and if the virus gets past levels one and two, the friendly bacteria actually communicate with your body to produce substances that neutralize the virus before it causes damage.
Four things to look for in a probiotic:
1. A high culture count: The culture count refers to the total amount of live, friendly bacterial cultures in a single serving. Some people may need a higher amount depending upon age or health-related concern. More information can be obtained at renewlife.ca.
2. The number of strains: There are over 1,000 strains of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Look for the naturally occurring strains that begin with Ls and Bs, like lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. A good way to remember is that the L strains are good for the little (small) intestine. The B strains are good for the big (large) intestine or colon.
3. The capsule is designed for delayed release: Probiotics must travel through the harsh stomach environment and be delivered to the intestines to be effective. If they never make it through the stomach acid, they won’t do you any good. Delayed-release capsules are engineered to remain intact through the stomach and begin dissolving in the intestine, where they are needed most.
4. Potency at time of expiration, not manufacture: A probiotic is fresh when manufactured, but very few remain at full strength through their expiration date.
Other ways to support immunity: Wash your hands regularly; Get plenty of sleep; Drink lots of water; Eat a healthy diet of whole foods like fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, seeds and lean meats; Avoid processed foods and sugar;
Supplement with a good multivitamin; Maintain a healthy weight; Stop smoking; Reduce and manage stress.
Caroline Farquhar is an R.H.N. and the director of education at Renew Life.
Ultimate Flora 50 Billion is available at your local health food store or wherever quality natural health products are sold. To find a location near you visit www.renewlife.ca or call 1-800-485-0960