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Researchers have reported that consumption of probiotics can alter the immune system response to common causes of allergies. “These data show that probiotic supplements modulate immune responses…and may have the potential to alleviate the severity of symptoms,” Claudio Nicoletti and colleagues at Britain’s Institute of Food Research wrote in a report about the study.

There is suggestion that probiotics help prevent the development of allergies. The small study found that probiotics changed the immune system’s response to grass pollen, a common cause of allergies, and balanced antibodies in a way that might alleviate allergies in those suffering with the condition. “The probiotic strain we tested changed the way the body’s immune cells respond to grass pollen,” said Kamal Ivory, a researcher who worked on the study.

This is not surprising, because nearly 80 percent of your immune system is in your gut. Probiotic bacteria are micro-organisms living in the gut. They must exist in the proper ratio to the “bad” or potentially pathogenic bacteria that also live in the intestinal tract, or dysbiosis can result, causing digestive problems and symptoms. Probiotics also make certain vitamins needed by the body including folic acid, vitamin B6, niacin and vitamin K. Probiotic supplements can be used to restore the ecosystem of the gut after a dose of antibiotics, or to help stablize gut flora. Aside from supplements, you can get probiotics from fermented foods like cultured vegetables and yogurt or drinks like kefir, rejuvelac, or kombucha.

We have several pounds of bacteria in our intestinal tract, and they play a key role in digestion and immune system function. When your gut ecology is out of balance, bad bacteria may overtake the good and lead to illness, weakened immunity, or susceptibility to allergies – food, environment, or seasonal.

You may have unbalanced gut ecology if you experience gas and bloating regularly (more than once a week), have alternating constipation and diarrhea, frequent “indigestion,” or (for women) chronic yeast infections/vaginitis. Get more probiotics in your diet by increasing your consumption of cultured vegetables (krauts) or fermented dairy, or try a full spectrum supplement that contains acidophilus, bifidus, and lactobacillus.

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