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Probiotics – The Big Cheese In Improving Elderly Immune Systems

Probiotics, often referred to as the “good” bacteria, are live microorganisms thought to be healthy for the host organism. Probiotics are most often consumed as part of fermented foods with specially added active live cultures such as in yogurt, soy or in dietary supplements. They are thought to aid in the alleviation of chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases, prevention and treatment of pathogen induced diarrhea, urogenital infections and atopic or allergic disorders. Profound and complex changes in the immune response occur during the aging process. Age related deterioration of the immune system is known as immunosenescene. This deterioration means the body is unable to kill tumor cells and reduces the immune response to vaccinations and infections. Infectious diseases, chronic inflammation disorders and cancer are hallmarks of immunosenescene. This can leave elderly people more vulnerable to infection and disease because it is harder for the body to kill cancerous cells and reduces the immune response to vaccinations and infections.

Scientists at the University of Turku in Finland discovered that probiotic cheese can tackle the age related deterioration. Dr. Fandi Ibrahim, lead author of the study published in the medical journal FEMS Immunology & Medical Microbiology said, “The increase in the proportion of aged individuals in modern society makes finding innovative ways to thwart the deterioration of the immune system a priority. “The intake of probiotic bacteria has been reported to enhance the immune response through other products, such as yogurt and certain milks, and now we have discovered that cheese can be a carrier of the same bacteria.” The team asked volunteers aged between 72 and 103, all of whom lived in the same care home, to eat either one slice of probiotic Gouda cheese or a slice of placebo cheese with their breakfast for four weeks. The study said the fact that all the volunteers were living in the same building helped to reduce any differences caused by variations in diet and other environmental factors.

I LOVE CHEESE. by *bendwater88 on deviantART

Both the Gouda cheeses used in the experiment were commercially available, said the scientists. The probiotic Gouda cheese was rich in the bacteria Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 and Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM. Blood tests were carried out to discover the effects of the probiotic bacteria contained within the cheese on the immune system. Ibrahim said the results revealed a clear enhancement of natural and acquired immunity. “The aim of our study was to see if specific probiotic bacteria in cheese would have immune enhancing effects on healthy older individuals in a nursing home setting,” concluded Ibrahim. “We have demonstrated that the regular intake of probiotic cheese can help to boost the immune system and that including it in a regular diet may help to improve an elderly person’s immune response to external challenges.

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About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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