Probiotics can benefit more than our gut health. Consider chewing probiotic gum to help keep your mouth and throat healthy.
We’ve all heard of probiotics. These are the beneficial bacteria that live within our bodies, protecting us against a host of health conditions.
For a long time, most research into the beneficial effects of probiotics has been focused on gut health, restoring crucial intestinal flora, and for their use in preventing or treating gastrointestinal infections and diseases.
But recently, new research has been focusing on the helpful bacteria that live in our mouths. One probiotic in particular, S. Salivarius, has been showing much promise in improving oral health.
Probiotics for infection protection
“Everyone knows about the importance of probiotics for the digestive tract,” explains Professor John Tagg, a world-renowned microbiologist affiliated with the University of Otago in New Zealand. “But for good oral health and overall immunity, we also need probiotics that are specific to our mouths.”
“Beginning with the very first kiss our parents give us when we are newborns, our mouths come in contact with billions of bacteria,” says Tagg. “Some are friendly, health-promoting bacteria (probiotics) that help to restore the healthy balance of microflora and raise our natural resistance to infection from harmful germs.?But other bacteria, the pathogenic kind, cause bad breath, strep throat, earache, upper respiratory infection, and sinus infection.”
According to Tagg, chewing gum is an ideal way to “seed” the S. Salivarius oral probiotic throughout the mouth and throat where it will begin to colonize and grow. He suggests chewing one piece of probiotic gum daily.
Research into the possible benefits of S. Salivarius is promising from many perspectives. A 2012 study, for example, found that children who were treated daily for 90 days with S. Salivarius experienced a reduction in strep throat and ear infections. And in a 2013 study, with the same probiotic given to adults experiencing recurrent strep throat and/or tonsillitis, the results showed a significant reduction in recurrence.
As well, lab studies showed promise in S. Salivarius for treating oral candidiasis, which often comes with severe inflammation.
Oral health is proving to be far more important to our overall health than we realized. Researchers now know that the health of our teeth and gums is also definitively linked to heart disease, diabetes, inflammation, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
One of the core principles of holistic health is to prevent illness rather than merely managing symptoms. Protecting ourselves from a host of oral health-related diseases may include the simple pleasure of chewing a little piece of probiotic gum every day.