Probiotics and Immune Health

I remain in a bit of a lull as I await the end of the course of Prednisone I’m on right now to calm my immune system’s reaction to the 6 pregnancies we’ve celebrated and then lost from March 2013 to May 2014 (the May one ended in early June but who’s counting?).

In the meantime, I have:

  • been working out with some increased regularity, which feels great;
  • not suffered allergic reactions to foods and pollens and all sorts of other stuff I could not even identify (I was reacting to anything and everything);
  • stopped all diminished ovarian reserve, fertility and recurrent pregnancy loss supplements except Royal Jelly, Vitamin D3, a prenatal (I use Platinum because of its lower iron content and the fact it’s easily absorbed as it’s a liquid in a massive gel cap – the massive gel cap is not so great but I can get it down so all is well), fish oil (I use NutraSea liquid and capsules kind of interchangeably but prefer the liquid when not travelling) and B-Complex (if this list sounds long to you, you should have seen the arm’s length list of stuff I took before!);
  • started a new blog inspired by the Blog Hop questions I answered – it’s about writing and art of sorts and not about seconday infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss or anything related per se;
  • been waffling endlessly about consulting a reproductive immunologist (I’ve settled on Dr. Braverman in Long Island) and if so, when and to what extent;
  • “camped” in our back yard with the Miracle Toddler (we haven’t made it through a night in the tent yet but that will happen);
  • joined the LP on the Whole 30 diet in late June and July (this was the LP’s idea, who is a now-recovering sugar, simple carbohydrate and dairy addict; I said I would take part to support him but I have not cut out soy entirely and I was already on an anti-inflammation diet so the only thing I had to eliminate was the gluten-free grain products);
  • discovered some interesting research about probiotics and immune system health that I did not previously know or appreciate, thanks to an online DE IVF friend.

I figured that the last bullet warranted some sharing of information for anyone reading this who may also have or wonder if you have immune-related fertility and/or recurrent pregnancy loss issues.  Here are some online resources I’ve discovered on the subject and a short synopsis of each:

1.  Priobiotic Bacteria Induce a ‘Glow of Health’

This interesting study involved mice who got sexy and attractive while on probiotics, displaying the “reproductive fitness” of much younger mice (as well as more luxurious fur).    The abstract boasts that “[f]emale animals displayed probiotic-induced hyperacidity coinciding with shinier hair, a feature that also aligns with fertility in human females.”  We may not get our take home babies, but we could look fabulous!

2.  Intake of Probiotic Food and Risk of Preeclampsia in Primiparous Women

This  Norwegian study indicates that women who consumed probiotics were less likely than their non-probiotic-consuming counterparts to develop pre-eclampsia.  Pre-eclampsia has been linked to immune function in pregnancy.  I also noted with interest the suggestion that “[p]robiotics have been suggested to modify placental trophoblast inflammation [and] systemic inflammation”, as well as blood pressure (all three are relevant for pre-eclampsia, the first two are of particular interest to me as I wonder whether inflammation is part of what has brought on some of our early losses in the past 18 months.  This article also talked about IgE levels being modified by probiotic consumption, which also keenly piqued my interest given that is the one diagnosis I’ve actually gotten that confirms my suspicions about an immune system gone wild.

3.  Cross-Talk between Probiotic Bacteria and the Host Immune System

This is a full-length 2007 article from the Journal of Nutrition that  reviews a number of research findings that suggest to me that, at least in 2007, the answers are inconclusive but we know gut flora can affect host immunity.  The article  concludes by saying that “the analysis of the impact of probiotics on the host immune system has entered a new and fascinating phase of research and that this effort is likely to offer novel and useful means to modulate host immunity for protection from, or treatment of, a wide variety of human and animal disorders.”

4. Immune System Stimulation by Probiotics

I was unable to get the full text of this article online but the Abstract indicates, among other things, that “Yogurt could inhibit the growth of intestinal carcinoma through increased activity of IgA, T cells, and macrophages.” Note: test subjects were non-human animals.

There are plenty more articles out there for anyone who is interested.

I will be back to update after I get my blood test results, which I expect will either be on Friday of this week or Monday of next week.  Until then, I’ll keep trudging along on my “break” from it all.

24 thoughts on “Probiotics and Immune Health

        • Thank you, MLACS, for sharing. I miss the days of being able to consume probiotic yogurt and it’s a whole new kettle of fish looking for non-dairy probiotic supplements, I’m very curious to know what works for others. I’ve ordered some Metagenics Ultra Flora IB even though I don’t have IBS because someone else said the NY RI, Dr. Braverman, approved it as she’s got a dairy sensitivity, too. I have used New Chapter which doesn’t use dairy either but did not like it. They’re a lot more affordable than the Metagenics though so I may go back to them. We’ll see – here’s to another new experiment!

          Hope you’re doing alright, my friend, I’m looking forward and keeping up the prayers for you.

        • So far it’s just a short phone consult but today I told the LP that if our current RE won’t do what Braverman would recommend I don’t know I can in good conscience leave our embies where they are and risk killing them too (and making me sick again). There is just so much unknown… but I’m really worn out on gambling and losing.

          I’m all giddy-breathless and worried for you, too, but I really do have a good feeling… and I’m sticking with that.

    • Thanks for sharing that. What is natural yeast bread?

      I’ve done probiotics before and felt no difference but maybe now that I’ve cut out all kinds of other stuff (gluten, dairy, grains for the most part) and that my immune system has been settled down, at least for now, I might see a difference. We’ll see!

      • Natural yeast bread uses live, active yeast instead of the dried packets. The dried packets have phytic acid in them, which robs your body of nutrients. Natural yeast bread allows your body to absorb those nutrients.

  1. I am loving this post! My iridologist and my acupuncturist have both brought up digestive health and immune issues to me. I’ve been working on improving my own for a while now. Recently switched to a new probiotic and am getting good results. BTW, will you share the new blog link? I’d love to read it.

    • Thank you, the link between our guts and our immune systems and our fertility is fascinating to me… and perhaps a little overwhelming. I don’t need another rabbit hole in which to bury myself. 😉

      I’m a little nervous about sharing the blog publicly, it still feels a little new and kind of impish. I’ll email you the link, though. Thanks for your interest, I really appreciate it.

  2. This is all very interesting. Thanks for sharing hon! My acupuncturist recommended I take probiotics about a year ago to help with inflammation and digestion, and I really have found that I feel so much better since I started taking them. I’ve always had skin issues and they are much better too.

    • My acupuncturist recommended probiotics to me years ago too but I noticed no changes when I took them so stopped as the quality dairy-free kind cost a small fortune. Now I’ve paid another small fortune and will see how I feel this time now that I am much healthier overall except for the immune issues. Fingers crossed!

  3. This is really interesting. I have battled with a terrible gastrointestinal system basically my whole life, bouncing around between lactose intolerance (I cut out all dairy) to IBS (I don’t think I had all the symptoms) until a new doctor ordered a course of probiotics about 14 months ago. Life changer! For the first time I have a reliable intestinal system, I feel healthier, no more awful cramping, etc.

  4. We have just been on a massive learning curve about how we eat in modern society and what it does to our health including issues to do with immunity. It’s crazy, scary and empowering all at the same time. The health of our guts seems crucial to me, so by taking probiotics and taking out damaging foods like grain, it seems like only good can come of that. We are working on getting wheat, sugar and inflammatory oils like vegetable oils out of our diets. These things seem to be at the root of so so many modern health issues to me. Xxx

    • Fascinating, isn’t it? I use avocado and coconut oil sometimes, do those count among the offensive vegetable oils (neither one being a vegetable I hope not)? Getting rid of gluten made me happy. I miss some grains but I never ate loads of them so it isn’t really so tough. Sugar is in so much – I threw out every salad dressing in our house when I realized sugar (including cane sugar) was the second ingredient in all of them – even the organic ones!

      • It really is. No, those two oils are great. I use coconut oil for lots of things now. I bake my own little treats with coconut oil and that use natural sugar like honey, or rice malt syrup which is very low in sugar. I also use coconut oil to cook meat up etc. It’s got quite a high smoke point so makes it good for cooking. I think they come under plant oils, as does olive oil (but don’t let that get too hot – a low smoke point). It’s the polyunsaturated oils you want to avoid. Coconut is pure saturated fat which despite what we have all even told for decades is actually essential to good health, hormone production etc. Sugar is so hard to avoid! It’s scary where it hides! Gluten seems to affect so many people. I feel better without it I think. It’s all about meat, veg, eggs, cheeses etc as much as possible here. I do have a sweet tooth though, but my home made stuff satisfies that. I may not be quite sugar free yet in that sense, but I’m a hell of a lot less sugar than I was, and the differences are noticeable very quickly. Check out I quit sugar on FB or online, and also Sarah Ballantyne who runs a website/Facebook page called The Paleo Mom. She also has a book out called the paleo approach which is all about immunity and health. It’s not fertility related but may interest you anyway 🙂 xxx

        • Thank you – that is awesome! I really appreciate you sharing all of this. I’ve never been a sweet tooth and gluten was easy to give up. I miss dairy in the sense that I love fine cheeses but I do feel better not eating it and the reactions I was having were scary (throat swelling and hurting for hours after even a bite). I’ve been doing AI for a bit now but was happy when the LP picked up this paleo challenge and now I’m quite keen on it. Good luck with everything, hope the diet changes lead to other positives!

        • Yum, cheese! That’s annoying you get reactions but definitely scary by the sound of it! Leave well alone! Hah! Just watched a documentary that was saying eating raw food helps your immune system by not overloading it. They talked about trying to include some raw food in each meal. That’s a new bit of information for me, so haven’t looked into it but might be of interest to you. Good luck to you too honey! Taking charge of our own health is the way forward for everyone I think! Xxx

        • The anti-inflammation diet (for immune health) includes lots of raw foods so I’ve been eating plenty over the past 4-6 weeks I’ve been on that. It’s such a contrast to my past TTC diet which was largely informed by traditional Chinese medicine’s view that cooked foods are easier to digest and keep warmth in the body, which is essential for reproductive health. Smoothies are an easy way to get in lots of raw food in an intense burst and a good way for me to enjoy “breakfast” (except today when I woke up starving and scarfed down eggs – heavy workout last night and no grains means hearty appetite upon waking!). It’s great to connect over health developments, I’m excited to be taking charge of my health, I just wish I had a clue about what’s in store on the baby-making front. All in good time, I guess.

        • The health stuff is a good way to keep focused and motivated. It is awesome to learn all this stuff about nutrition. We won’t get this info from an average GP Doctor, but with the internet and a bit of a food revolution happening we can all go out there and make our own choices for us and our families. Let’s keep our fingers crossed we will both be extending our families very soon! If not I will be throwing myself back to chocolate and white bread! Lol. Hugs xxx

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