Did you know that every day you take 25,000 breaths? Each breath of air you take isn't just oxygen; it also carries billions of diverse communities of microbes plus other foreign bodies such as pollutants. Your lungs are exposed to this air, and they have an important protective role in your body, which is to prevent unwanted invaders from getting in and affecting your immune system.
Can we help our body to ward off the common cold or worse, which is so prevalent at this time of year? The human body is already home to trillions of microbes, collectively called the microbiome, and most research to date on the microbiome has focused on the intestinal tract. But according to Emily Cope, assistant professor of biology and assistant director of Northern Arizona University (NAU) Pathogen and Microbiome Institute (PMI), the airways also have a diverse microbial community.
Until recently, scientists believed that the lungs and airways were sterile, but we are now discovering that the surfaces of the airways also house a resident community of microbes known as the lung microbiome. There are one to two hundred different kinds of bacteria in the lungs, and normal colonisation of the airways most likely begins after birth, initially coming from the mother, similar to the gut microbiome.
Environment is a major factor in how your microbiome continues to grow. Research shows that rural lifestyles encourage the diversity of beneficial bacteria and can also protect against asthma, allergies and upper respiratory infections. The upper respiratory tract includes the sinuses, nasal passages, pharynx and larynx. This pathway directs the air we breathe to the trachea and eventually to the lungs to complete the respiration process.
An upper respiratory infection (URI) can affect any part of this upper airway. URIs, caused by viruses, are among the most common health problems in humans. They can occur at any time but are most widespread in the autumn and winter. URIs include the common cold and inflammation of the trachea and larynx, with symptoms including fever, cough, pain and headache. They are generally caused by the direct invasion of the inner lining (mucosa or mucus membrane) of the upper airway by a virus or bacteria. In order for the pathogens (bad bacteria) to invade the mucus membrane, they have to fight through several physical and immunological barriers. The hair in the lining of the nose acts as one physical barrier, potentially trapping the invading pathogenic bacteria. The wet mucus inside the nasal cavity can also engulf bad bacteria that enter the upper airways. And small hair-like structures (cilia) that line the trachea constantly move foreign invaders up towards the pharynx to be eventually swallowed into the digestive tract and into the stomach.
The immune system does its part to fight off pathogens entering the upper airway; the Adenoids and tonsils located in the upper respiratory tract also help fight infections. There are a number of causes of URIs which is why they are so common and why treatment is often medicinal.
But how can we best support our body's arsenal of barriers and immune responses, so that URIs can be minimised or even prevented from taking hold in the first place? Bio live cultures (also known as probiotics) may provide an additional defence so that URIs can be managed or even eradicated during the onset of infection. Of course, we need to be aware of the four key aspects that underpin our own health: our diet, our exercise, our sleep and our relaxation.
Our living fermented liquid microbz breathe (previously Bio-Live Breathease) has 15 live active cultures mainly from the Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria family that can help to reduce the number and length of coughs and colds. microbz breathe is suitable for those suffering from breathing difficulties such as asthma, bronchitis, COPD and chest infections. The powerful combination of bio live cultures and herbs found naturally supports your respiratory system's ability to function as nature intended in our increasingly polluted environment.