A Better Way to Avoid the Flu?

Every year, flu-vaccine manufacturers guess which strains will be most predominant for the upcoming season.  Last year was considered a failure, at about 30% efficacy.  This year…it’s a disaster.  According to many news sources, including The Chicago Tribune[i], this year’s flu vaccine will be 10% effective…if that.  It’s expected to be a terrible year for the flu, especially since the strain that’s turned out to be predominant causes more severe illness than many others.

Fortunately, though, there’s potentially a better option anyway:  probiotics that contain lactic acid producing bacteria (such as you’d find in fermented foods like yogurt).  Researchers at Georgia State University tested this in 3 groups of mice.[ii]  Two groups were pretreated with a form (DK128) of Lactobacillus casei (one low dose, one high dose) and then infected with a lethal dose of influenza A (like the H1NI flu that made headlines a few years back).  The low dose group had significant weight loss, but survived the lethal infection.  The high dose group not only survived, but had no weight loss.  The control mice, which were not pretreated with the probiotic, showed severe weight loss and were all dead within 9 days.

More than that:  the mice pretreated with the probiotic had 18X less influenza virus in their lungs.

“The study’s results suggest that pretreatment with lactic acid bacteria, specifically DK128, equips mice with the capacity to have protective immunity against a broad range of primary and secondary influenza A virus infections.”

Previous research had already supported the notion that lactic acid bacteria provide at least partial protection against a wide variety of bacterial infectious diseases like strep, as well as cold and flu.   I did a little snooping around to see what I could find.   How about this:

“In this study, we analyzed the activity of probiotic strain B. subtilis 3 against the influenza virus. The antiviral effect of this strain has been demonstrated in vitro and in vivo A new peptide, P18, produced by the probiotic strain was isolated, purified, chemically synthesized, and characterized….The protective effect of P18 in mice was comparable to that of oseltamivir phosphate (Tamiflu).”[iii]

I can tell you that I’ll be loading my family up on hand-washing and probiotics this winter.

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[i] http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/health/ct-flu-vaccine-effectiveness-20171206-story.html

[ii] https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-12-lactic-acid-bacteria-influenza-virus.html

[iii] Starosila, D, Rybalko, S, Varbanetz, L, Ivanskay, N, Sorokulova, I. Anti-influenza activity of a Bacillus subtilis probiotic strain.  Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.  2017;Jun 27;61(7).


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