The past decade has seen a surge in probiotic sales, thanks to an increased scrutiny on the powerful benefits associated with good bacteria. While there are many who cringe at the thought of consuming bacteria, probiotics are actually crucial for the functioning of your digestion, mood, and even bone health. No longer are probiotics being relegated to supporting only digestion. In fact, it turns out these beneficial microorganisms may also support the immune system. Vitamin C used to be the main dietary component attributed to immune support; however, recent reports are showing that probiotics (as well as vitamin D) offer an added benefit. The question is, does your probiotic supplement contain the strains responsible for supporting immune health?
Probiotics: The Key to Immune Health
Keeping your immune system in check ensures that your body is doing a good job in fighting viruses and other foreign invaders known to cause illness. Supplementing with vitamin C may work, but it's not the only piece of the puzzle. In fact, research is showing that probiotics may be helpful in not only preventing but also reducing the duration of certain immune-related conditions.  For example, the two strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium animalis may decrease the severity and duration of upper respiratory tract infections.  In addition to these strains, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus helveticus may also be helpful for reducing infection risk. 
Are You Getting Enough?
Probiotics are quickly becoming a recognized nutrient, simply because their health benefits are so vast and significant. Unfortunately, many people are going without notable consumption of probiotics. Why? Fermented foods are one of the largest food sources of probiotic bacteria, and most people simply aren't opting for raw sauerkraut as their dinner side dish. The easiest way to receive beneficial bacteria is through a high-quality supplement, particularly one that combines a number of different strains. The strains mentioned above (L. rhamnosus, B. animalis, B. bifidum, and B. helveticus) are just a few to look for if you're seeking a way to support your immune system. 
Do you have any experience using probiotics to support your immune system? Let us know how it worked for you in the comments!
- Rostyslav V. Bubnov, Mykola Ya Spivak, Liudmyla M. Lazarenko, Alojz Bomba and Nadiya V. Boyko. Probiotics and immunity: provisional role for personalized diets and disease prevention. EPMA Journal. Clinical Nutrition and Health Psychology. 2015, 6:14. doi:10.1186/s13167-015-0036-0.
- Smith TJ, Rigassio-Radler D, Denmark R, Haley T, Touger-Decker R. Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG® and Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis BB-12® on health-related quality of life in college students affected by upper respiratory infections. Br J Nutr. 2013 Jun;109(11):1999-2007. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512004138.
- Valentina Taverniti and Simone Guglielmetti. Health-Promoting Properties of Lactobacillus helveticus. Front Microbiol. 2012; 3: 392. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2012.00392.
- Todd Runestad. Probiotics are now kings of immune health. NewHope360.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.