The Probiotics and Asthma Benefit: Does it Exist?
Bacteria. Viruses. Yeast. Yuck! These microorganisms can play a big part in making you sick. Yet are you aware that to the other extreme, some forms of bacteria may also help your body function at its best?
You may not know it, but a host of helpful bacteria and yeasts make their home right in your gut, where they play an important role in regulating your digestive system. Many people also supplement what nature gave them by eating foods that contain "good" bacteria (commonly known as probiotics) to help bring on a variety of health benefits, including a possible improvement in asthma symptoms.
A Balancing Act
In an ideal world, bacteria that occurs naturally in your body will be enough to keep your stomach feeling well and your digestive system operating to its full extent. But sometimes some extra help is in order, either because of illness, extended medicine usage, or even poor eating habits. Any of these and a variety of other circumstances can throw things out of whack.
When such an imbalance occurs, probiotics (which can be found in certain yogurts, milks, juices, and cheese, as well as in supplement form) can help to make things right again.
Some research studies have also found that taking probiotics can strengthen the immune system and reduce people's risk of contracting a variety of ailments and illnesses, too. In addition, some scientists believe that probiotics can alter the immune cells contained in your stomach area and as a result, may lessen or prevent the immune system response that causes asthma. However, a handful of research efforts have explored this theory in recent years and haven't been able to prove that probiotics make any significant difference in reducing asthma symptoms.
Exploring the Preventative Effects
While the advantages of probiotics on your respiratory system haven't panned out yet, it's worth noting that most of the current science to date in this area has looked at using probiotics to treat existing asthma cases, rather than working to head them off. Therefore, further efforts are planned to explore the asthma prevention aspect to see if any hope on that front exists.
Play it Safe
In the meantime, experts don't advise relying on probiotics to relieve or control your asthma symptoms. However, if you're intrigued by the idea nonetheless, you can talk to your doctor to see if it's okay to try adding them into your daily menu. If you do get the go ahead to try probiotics, just be sure that you continue to follow your asthma action plan and take your medications exactly as prescribed.
It's also important to make sure your doctor and pharmacist knows exactly what types of complementary practices you use, so they can help you avoid any side effects or medication interactions.
The bottom line is that while probiotics for asthma may not provide any significant improvements, some people do find they can help lessen allergy symptoms and bring some welcoming digestive benefits.
Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology (AACI)
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)/National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
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