It’s part of aging...our immune systems start to decline in effectiveness. However, there are many things we can do to counteract this decline. A healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, adequate sleep, reduced stress, and a healthy diet will go a long way in keeping us healthy in the second half of our lives. Part of a healthy diet includes making sure the “good” bacteria in our GI tract is not compromised. These good bacteria or microflora of the gut help with digestion, regularity and reduced risk of allergies, cancer and GI immune function. That’s quite a big job!

The GI tract contains 60% of our body’s immune cells. It stands to reason that we should do everything we can to keep it happy and functioning properly. This is where probiotics enter the picture. Probiotics are live microorganisms found in foods or in supplements in the form of capsules, powders or liquids. They regulate proper intestinal function and digestion by balancing intestinal microflora. Research is still ongoing, but there have been encouraging reports that support an improved immune function in aging adults who use probiotics.

Probiotics occur naturally in yogurt, kefir, aged cheeses, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh. There are even products available which are probiotic-fortified such as juices, chocolates, flour and cereal. Probiotics must be alive and ingested in adequate amounts to be effective.  As usual, it’s always best to investigate before you buy any supplement. Quality is very important when it comes to probiotic supplements because they are regulated as foods, not drugs. They don’t require any proof of potency or testing of ingredients. Talk with your doctor at GI Associates about the best way to ensure you are getting enough “good” bacteria to support your immune system.

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