This past flu season was a particularly bad one. In many cases, the flu was more severe than it has been in years past. And we saw many more flu-related deaths than normal, even in seemingly healthy people. A lot of those deaths turned out to be due to sepsis, which is when the body is fighting so hard to destroy bacteria or other toxins that it ends up damaging its own tissues and organs. Fortunately, new research is investigating a surprising new way to protect yourself from sepsis. Here’s what you can do to prepare your body before the next flu season hits.
This new research first outlines the connection between blood levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies and sepsis. In mice, increased IgA levels help protect the body from the rapid spread of bacteria that can lead to sepsis. Other studies have confirmed that people with IgA deficiencies are more vulnerable to sepsis. So, the researchers wanted to know whether there was an easy way to boost IgA levels and thereby increase protection from sepsis.
Previous research has found a connection between gut microbes and IgA levels. Research has also found that gut bacteria could trigger a different kind of antibody, IgG, to block bacterial infections. But a direct link between gut bacteria, IgA, and sepsis protection hadn’t yet been established, so researchers from the University of Pennsylvania decided to investigate this potential link in mice.
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They found that if they exposed the mice to a natural microflora with strains of friendly bacteria, then sure enough, their IgA levels increased. This also increased the mice's resistance to sepsis. The researchers confirmed that IgA was at least partially responsible for the sepsis resistance by exposing mice without IgA and mice with enriched IgA levels to sepsis. All but one of the mice lacking IgA died within two days, while those with the IgA boost were able to fight off the infection for much longer.
This study is just the latest in a long line of research showing how important gut bacteria is to our health. For this reason and for many other reasons, I strongly recommend a probiotic at least once or twice a week, such as Advanced Probiotic Formula. It will give you some of the essential strains of friendly bacteria that you need for good gut health - and good overall health.
This probiotic should supplement, but not replace a healthy, fiber-rich diet, as friendly bacteria rely on the prebiotics found in fiber-rich foods to survive. As we head into summer, flu season may feel like a distant memory, but it’s never too soon to give your body the tools it needs to fight off infection effectively.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD