Are They Telling Us Everything? Probably Not

If it weren’t for the fact there was so much conflicting information before the Covid-19 pandemic, it would be easier to believe the CDC, WHO, Chinese health authorities and other health professionals that White Lung Syndrome is really nothing to worry about. It wasn’t too long ago that a few months before Covid 19 was declared a pandemic we were told the same thing. And who can forget the infamous 2 weeks to flatten the curve?

The information on where, what, and how these outbreaks of M. pneumonia are occurring has been limited. We will continue to monitor this outbreak and bring reports periodically.

Be prepared, not scared

For now, we can get medically prepared. Check and refill (as needed) your stock of pain and fever relievers, nebulizer treatments and other supplies. One valuable supplement that can help keep your immune system in top shape are probiotics. Probiotics are even beneficial if you do get sick. For instance, they can treat antibiotic associated diarrhea.

Probiotics to curb antibiotic associated diarrhea.

Mycoplasma pneumonia is a bacterial pneumonia, and azithromycin is one of the antibiotics used to treat M. pneumoniae. Whether you or a member of your family are given an antibiotic, one common side effect is antibiotic associated diarrhea.

Probiotics are sometimes prescribed at the same time as antibiotic therapy are initiated to treat antibiotic associated diarrhea. Young children are more at risk for dehydration because of their smaller body size than teens and adults. Dehydration can be life threatening and lead to further complications.

A study titled “Role of Probiotics in Mycoplasma pneumoniae Pneumonia in Children: A Short-Term Pilot Project”  concluded M. pneumoniae can be successfully treated with azithromycin; however, antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) is a common adverse effect. This study determined the effects of probiotics (live Clostridium butyricum plus Bifidobacterium infantis) prevented AAD in children with mycoplasma pneumonia when co-administered with intravenous azithromycin. The probiotics also helped reconstruct the gut microbiota, especially the restoration of bacterial diversity, which is important to overall health.

Use probiotics with caution and under the guidance of your care provider

While it has been well documented that probiotics and probiotic rich foods enhance immune system function, there can be some drawback to their use. In the immune compromise population, beneficial bacteria can take over and turn pathogenic. Young children especially need to be monitored if given any probiotics. In addition to probiotics in supplement form, adding probiotic rich foods offer powerful immune boosting benefits to your diet.

Probiotics are powerful immune modulators. The gut-lung axis is poorly understood at this point, however there is undeniable evidence that probiotics, especially Lactobacilli modulate immune response via gut lung pathways. Even though the exact mechanism of action is still being researched, the following are some known benefits of probiotic supplementation.

  • Viral respiratory tract infection (RTI) is the most frequent cause of infectious illnesses including the common cold. Antibiotics don’t work on viral illnesses and there are limited medications available to treat viral respiratory infections.
  • Supplements with L. paracasei MCC1849 can provide protection against influenza virus.
  • Lactobacillus strains have a beneficial role in respiratory diseases including respiratory tract infections (RTIs), asthma, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis (CF) and COPD.
  • The combination of oral L. paracase, L. casei CRL 431 and L. fermentium PCC also reduces rhinovirus-induced common and influenza-like infection. (mainly Lactobacilli) can decrease the risk of respiratory failure in COVID-19 patients by 8-fold.
  • Rhamnosus GG, L. gasseri TMC0356, L. plantarum IM76, L. plantarum CJLP133 and CJLP243 can effectively improve the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. In clinical trials. L. gasseri KS-13, L. casei Shirota and L. acidophilus L-92 have been used to effectively prevent seasonal allergic rhinitis.
  • Common fermented foods, such as live culture yogurt, sauerkraut, miso and other foods are naturally probiotic rich. Check labels for the strain of probiotics the food carries.

Keep your immune system in top shape. Wash hands. Avoid being around sick people. Stay home and keep your child at home if you or your child are sick. In other words, use common sense.

This time of year is historically cold/flu season. Stock up on supplies you may need for all members of the family. Do you own a reliable thermometer? I am surprised how many people overlook thermometers as part of medical preparation!

- Brooke Lounsbury, RN

Medical Content Writer

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The Power of Probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms that are intended to have health benefits when consumed or applied to the body. They can be found in yogurt and other fermented foods, dietary supplements, and beauty products. They can also be found in soil.

Probiotics may contain a variety of microorganisms. The most common are bacteria that belong to groups called Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Other bacteria may also be used as probiotics, as are some yeasts such as Saccharomyces boulardii.

It is estimated our bodies house an estimated 100 trillion “good” bacteria, many of which reside in our gut. These bacteria are essential for our survival. They play an enormous role in our overall health.

A review of the many documented health benefits include:

  • A review titled “Effect of Probiotics on Central Nervous System Functions in Animals and Humans: A Systematic Review” concluded that common strains of probiotic bacteria found in some fermented foods “showed efficacy in improving psychiatric disorder-related behaviors including anxiety, depression, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, and memory abilities, including spatial and non-spatial memory.” They also concluded that certain probiotics could affect the gut brain interaction, from the vagus nerve, aka as the “traveling nerve”. This nerve originates at the brainstem and travels to almost every organ of your body. It is a part of the autonomic nervous system. Many of the strains of probiotic bacteria used in the research can be found in active culture yogurt and lacto fermented vegetables. There are probiotic supplements on the market, however the most concentrated form is in foods.
  • Improves glycemic control
  • Lowers inflammation
  • Improves immune function
  • Manufacture of vitamin K2- This vitamin, not to be confused with vitamin K1 which is responsible for blood to clot, k2 is a powerful transporter of calcium from the bloodstream and into the bones and teeth and prevents calcification of arteries and in kidneys. It is found most abundantly in natto, a fermented product. Other sources include cheese, beef liver, chicken, butter, sauerkraut.
  • Butyrate is a naturally occurring short chain fatty acid found in the lower intestine and is used by the lining of the intestine as an energy source. It is found in kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, breast milk, apple cider vinegar and resistant starches- cooked and cooled rice, potatoes, oats, etc. Butyrate also:
  1. Helps stabilize blood sugar levels
  2. Protects brain from diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
  3. Protects against cancer
  4. Can help prevent obesity
  • Saccharomyces boulardii, a probiotic found in supplement form and in fermented foods is commonly used in treatment of childhood rotaviral diarrhea and diarrhea resulting from antibiotic use. The brand Florastor is the most common probiotic used.
  • Kombucha, a fizzy drink made from tea, sugar and a scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) provides B vitamins and acetic acid, which kills pathogenic bacteria.

A word about prebiotics

Prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber that promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut. While probiotics are live bacteria that provide health benefits, prebiotics act as food for probiotics and help them survive and thrive. Examples are fiber from fermented foods, whole grains, bananas, greens, onions, garlic, avocados and artichokes.

Foods highest in prebiotic fiber are chicory root, garlic and dandelion.

- Brooke Lounsbury

Medical Content Writer

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