With one of the worst flu seasons in recent decades upon us, building immunity this winter should be top of mind. There’s nothing worse than seeing sick days dwindle knowing that we may need a few extra to fight an office bug. Most of us have heard that taking a probiotic is a great first defence against digestive illnesses. But probiotics are also an all-purpose remedy for overall wellness. Why? Well, it all starts with the health of our gut.

Our gastrointestinal tract is filled with trillions of bacteria, both good and bad. These tiny microorganisms are in a battle of good versus evil every day to keep our bodies healthy, and need to be in proper balance to keep everything functioning well. Because approximately 70 percent of our immune system’s cells and tissues exist in the gut, it’s the good bacteria found here that help fight pathogens and viruses that have snuck into our system.

Probiotics support the growth of good bacteria in our bodies, which supports our immune system. Probiotics boost our immunity by helping to regulate the immune system, allowing it to respond more appropriately to external pathogens. However, certain lifestyle habits such as following an unhealthy diet or not taking the time to de-stress can all disrupt the balance of bacteria found in the gut. And in winter, with our immune systems taxed even more, it’s essential to keep our gut health in an optimal state. In fact, regularly taking probiotics can aid in righting the balance to help boost our immunity.

Not all probiotics are the same

One of the most important things to look for is a probiotic formula with multiple bacteria strains. Our body is an intricate ecosystem and each strain supports other good gut microbes.

Bacteria are living microorganisms and need to be kept at a stable temperature to survive. Search for products that feature a temperature-controlled process during the packaging of the probiotics. Probiotics packaged in blister packs offer greater shelf stability and reduced chance of die off due to humidity.

Also, look for a probiotic that is free from potential allergens like gluten, dairy, or soy. Taking a supplement meant to boost your digestive system’s health that contains ingredients you might be allergic to is simply counterproductive!

Finally, look for a probiotic that guarantees the number of bacteria at expiry. The best probiotics have 15-50 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) once expired — not at the time of manufacture.

How to find the best product

Genuine Health has four products available in their line of probiotics. The first, Advanced Gut Health Probiotic 15 billion CFU, is great for anyone looking to try probiotics for the first time.

Advanced Gut Health Probiotic 50 billion CFU is an extra-strength probiotic that’s good to take if you’ve just finished a course of antibiotics, you’re fighting a cold or the flu or have a compromised digestive system.

Women are encouraged to use the Advanced Gut Health Probiotic Women’s Daily as it also delivers support for vaginal and skin health. Advanced Gut Health Probiotic Women’s UTI includes organic cranberry extract to help prevent recurring urinary tract infections. Both of these products have 50 billion CFU.

With a range of products available to build your immunity and offer you a cold and flu-free winter season, there’s no better reason to think about adding probiotics to your health regimen to help you keep those sick days away.