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BellaOnline's Allergies and Colds Editor

Probiotics and allergies

Your gut may seem a long way from your stuffed up nose but the health of the two are interrelated. Recent studies have shown that you may be able to reduce your allergy symptoms by improving the health of your gut. A good place to start may be by taking probiotics.

What are probiotics?

It may sound disgusting but our guts are filled with a trillion bacteria, some of which are good and some just plain ugly. The important thing is to keep the good and bad guys in proper balance. Stress, antibiotics, and diets high in processed foods and sugar can tip the balance in favor of the bad ones.

Thatís where probiotics come to the rescue. Probiotics are good bacteria, taken as a supplement, which balance out the bad bacteria and reduce inflammation in the gut.
Scientists are still studying why adding probiotics to oneís diet helps reduce allergies but the theory is that exposure to a variety of bacteria strengthens the immune system.

Sorting out what probiotics to take

Yogurt used to be the recommended source of good bacteria to fix your gut but the simple truth is the creamy food doesnít contain enough bacteria to get the job done. There also is that whole problem of yogurt being laden with sugar, artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup which actually contributes to an unhealthy digestive tract. These days there are numerous foods available with added probiotics but again they probably do not contain enough.

Think at least one billion active cultures and upwards from there when considering which probiotics to buy. According to scientists, you need to have at least one billion for them to have an effect. Look for a mixture of good bacteria, including bifobacterium bifidum, lactobacilius acidophilus, lactobacilius rhamnasus and bifobacterium longum.

I take a probiotic with 50 billion bacteria and ten different strains of good bacteria. It costs about $36 for a 30-day supply but it is well worth the investment for someone with a compromised immune system.

The next steps

Adding probiotics to your diet is only the beginning of the process of healing your digestive tract and strengthening your immune system. Youíre likely to see greater improvement if you add better eating habits and exercise, reduce your stress and avoid taking antibiotics and other medications that have a similar effect.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Sheree Welshimer. All rights reserved.
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