Image: William Brawley
Did you know that taking a daily dose of a prebiotic fiber supplement helps fight the flu? Inulin and oligofructose, two plant-based soluble fibers that enhance the production of healthy gut bacteria, enhance the body’s natural powers of immunity.
An Effective Home Remedy
Although it’s true that flu shots and mists help ward off nasty bugs that typically lay people low during the winter months, it turns out that certain home remedies — and yes, that includes chicken soup — also help us stay healthy. Prebiotic fiber and probiotic bacteria, according to the Cochrane Library, reduce the length of time people suffer flu symptoms. The good bacteria in the gut fight off harmful bacteria that flourish under flu-like conditions, while also increasing the strength of the body’s immune cells. Of course, gaining these benefits requires ingesting enough prebiotic fiber to do the trick — and most Americans already eat too few fibrous foods.
Where to Find Prebiotics and Probiotics
Prebiotics and probiotics: the names may sound similar, but they are extremely different and act differently from one another in the human body. Probiotics are bacteria that are frequently found in yogurt products. They can aid in digestion — if they survive the time spent in your fridge and the trip through your stomach acid. Probiotics also come in pill form, but are no less sturdy in pill form than in yogurt.
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are plant fibers. They are not affected by time, heat, cold or stomach acid. Although foods such as onions, garlic, chicory root and Jerusalem artichoke contain prebiotic fiber, most people can’t or won’t eat enough to reap their benefits. When getting prebiotic fiber is a priority, taking a daily supplement is the easiest route to success. Plus, not only do prebiotics boost immunity, they also aid digestion, improve mineral absorption and have been shown to reduce anxiety, enhance weight loss efforts and more.
More Ways to Beat the Flu
In addition to probiotics and prebiotic fiber, some tried and true home remedies have been clinically shown to fight the flu. A high-quality chicken soup with plenty of protein really does work; protein contains carnosine, a chemical that produces nitric oxide and kills bad bugs. Honey eases cough — in fact, it may be more effective than popular cough suppressants containing dextromethorphan. Vitamin D also provides a protective effect; however, taking extra Vitamin C does not. Experts are also skeptical that the popular herb Echinacea or that inhaling steam is effective; neither remedy has been shown to work definitively.