Dear Pharmacist: What is your go-to supplement for immunity? I want to get through the season without getting sick this year. — L.S., Long Island, New York
Answer: Probiotics, because your immune system is in your GI tract. Probiotics also improve energy and metabolism by activating thyroid hormone. This makes you feel energetic and helps you lose weight.
Your microbiome includes beneficial bacteria that extract vitamins and minerals from your food, thus “feeding” your cells. A person can eat and eat, and it won’t support you nutritionally at a cellular level unless the nutrients are extracted from your meals. This is why overweight people are actually malnourished at the cellular level.
Probiotics improve allergies by retraining your immune cells to tell the difference between harmful and non-harmful things you are exposed to. This is particularly helpful to asthmatics. Probiotics improve autoimmune conditions by helping your system differentiate between “self” and “non-self” particles. That way, your immune cells (born in your intestines) don’t over-react to your thyroid gland or your myelin, for example.
Probiotics relieve constipation, which reduces headaches. If you eliminate waste properly then toxins don’t build up in your body. My rule is if toxins build up in your blood, they back up in your head. These toxins are “migrenades” — they go off in your body like a grenade causing migraines. Probiotics get rid of some migrenades.
Probiotics help rid you of excess neurotransmitters. If you are stressed, nervous, sad, overwhelmed or you cry easily, I suggest taking probiotics. They influence hundreds of genes in your body, including the genes that help you fight infection, which is a terrific perk this time of year.
I suggest taking them while you’re on the antibiotic. Don’t make the mistake of waiting. After you swallow your antibiotic pills, it eventually exits your gut and enters your bloodstream, and that’s the time to take your probiotic supplement. Wait about two hours after your medicine, then take your probiotic. High-quality products are sometimes fermented to combine different strains.
Here are some of the most popular strains found in supplements:
Bifidobacterium breve — Prevents diarrhea and supports natural antibody production.
Bifidobacterium infantis — Fights E. coli and protects against inflammation of the colon and stomach.
Bifidobacterium longum — Protects you from the negative effects of nitrates in food, ease lactose intolerance, diarrhea and food allergies.
Enterococcus faecalis or TH-10 — Very potent against some deadly organisms, this strain also removes toxins in the colon, digests proteins (proteolytic) and helps allergies.
Lactobacillus acidophilus — Neutralizes yeast, campylobacter and some flu strains, while helping to lower cholesterol levels. You often see this in yogurt, though I am not convinced it’s alive for long in yogurt.
Lactobacillus bulgaricus — May help digestive problems and acid reflux.
Lactobacillus plantarum — Protects against some gram-negative bacteria and produces natural antibodies. Often found in sauerkraut and pickles.
Streptococcus thermophilus — Possesses strong antioxidant activity due to “superoxide dismutase,” an enzyme known to have anti-tumor activity.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. For more information about Suzy Cohen, visit her website at www.suzycohen.com.