Los Angeles, CA—Social distancing could be preventing vital microbe exposure, according to the International Probiotics Association (IPA).
“We are living in strange times,” said Jessica ter Haar, Ph.D., Scientific Director of IPA. “We try to prevent transmission of the virus, but end up avoiding all contact to be safe. At this point in the pandemic our bodies are challenged in new ways, but at the same time, with much less support. People are isolated, stressed, and alone, but are advised to self-isolate and practice social distancing. Many of us are living in that proverbial protected bubble that we previously condemned.”
That distance, Dr. ter Haar says, may have consequences, microbially speaking: “Many microbes are good for your health. We sterilize everything to protect ourselves from the virus, but at the same time by not exposing ourselves to germs we are weakening our body’s own natural defenses to everyday threats.”
The press release notes that most bacteria are not dangerous—less than 1% of all bacteria cause diseases, and many bacteria help keep us health. Most people are familiar with the gut microbiome; there’s also a skin microbiome. And bacteria are different from viruses, which have no cells of their own; they function by invading healthy cells, where they start multiplying.
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Dr. ter Haar’s suggestion: probiotics. “Probiotics can be the hero in our current germophobic environment to help counter this lack of microbe exposure and stimulate our body’s own bacterial population in the gut microbiome and cells. Probiotics can literally wake up sleepy bacteria and cells and assist in protecting our health,” she says, explaining that those microbes support the immune system, metabolism, digestion, and the ability to focus.
The press release adds that a recent global analysis of clinical trials with probiotics found that more than 1,600 human clinical trials have been published on probiotics.
“People report feeling better when they’re taking a probiotic, which makes perfect sense because when the gut is happy the rest of the body seems to be in sync,” said George Parakevakos, Executive Director of IPA. “There’s a ton of science that continues to evolve, but everything we’ve seen points to positive health outcomes. There are no documented adverse events and probiotics are one of the safest supplements on the market.”