Protect yourself and your microbes

March 28, 2020

TAKING vitamin C and eating nutritious food would certainly help boost your immune system.

Among the superfoods recommended during this coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is eating yogurt and other fermented foods like kefir, kombucha or sauerkraut that would help enhance immune function. Yogurt is a convenient and common source of probiotics as well as vitamin A and zinc.

The more probiotics, or healthy bacteria introduced to your body the better. Bacteria, fungi and viruses can make us ill. All of us have our “own” trillion of microbes in our body and most of these are harmless. They help us digest food, protect against infection and even maintain good reproductive health.

These friendly bacteria boost our immune system and they help fight bad bacteria trying to invade our body.

As you try to increase your body defense system, taking care of good ones may be even more important during these COVID emergency.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), researchers from around 80 institutions published a landmark series of reports earlier this year. They found that more than 10,000 different species occupy the human body. Health experts, humans need bacteria and their genes more than most of us thought.

They added that microbes also play important role on our skin, the body’s first lines of defense against illness and injury. Skin health depends on the delicate balance between your own cells and the microbes that live on its surface.

NIH scientists also said microbes are also important to the body’s infection-fighting immune system. In one study, they examined special mice that were born and raised to be germ-free. The germ-free mice were exposed to Staphylococcus epidermidis, one of the most common bacteria on human skin. The mice with S. epidermidis were able to defend against a parasite, whereas the bacteria-free mice weren’t.

Washing our hands is important during this health crisis for removing harmful microbes and viruses.

On the other hand, some of our healthy or beauty routine could affect our good bacteria. The lotions and creams we use can have adverse effect on skin health. Although lotions can provide a barrier to protect the skin’s moisture, Dr. Julie Segre of NIH said these lotions and creams could also be a “fertilizer” for other microorganisms. “You are really changing the food source for the bacteria that live on your skin,” she said.

Many researchers worry that some people are trying to get too clean. Though the use of sanitizers and alcohol is a necessity during this period, “if we go overboard as we try to get rid of the bad bacteria, this has had a collateral effect on the good bacteria,” says Dr. Martin J. Blaser at the New York University School of Medicine.

As we now spent more time indoor because of the Enhanced Home Quarantine (ECQ), try to make the all-time-favorite miso soup and grab a bottle of yogurt at a convenient store near you.