While probiotics primarily support healthy digestion and nutrient absorption, they also play important roles in supporting our immune system.

Backed by an ever-growing body of research, probiotics have a role to play as a valuable tool to support a healthy gut microbiome and a well-functioning immune system this winter. 

There are numerous roles that probiotics – the trillions of beneficial bacteria that live in your digestive system – play in our overall immune function.

This includes an immunoregulatory function that keeps harmful bacteria in check to prevent them from colonising the gut and causing potential infections, and they help destroy pathogens like viruses that enter the digestive system.

These beneficial bacteria also interact with the immune cells (lymphocytes, epithelial cells, monocytes, and macrophages) that live in the gut, influencing their production and activity to promote a balanced and effective immune response. Specifically, probiotics play a role in cytokine and white blood cell production¹, including interleukins, which are important cell-signalling molecules in the immune system.

Some probiotic strains even strengthen the intestinal lining by repairing damage and tightening junctions between cells², which creates a more robust physical barrier to stop pathogens from entering the gut.

Furthermore, research³ shows that probiotics have anti-inflammatory effects, which could potentially help control the immune response throughout the body as chronic inflammation can weaken the immune system’s ability to fight off infections.

Estimates suggest there are over 50 genera and over 500 different species of probiotic bacteria, with variations in each leading to different subspecies. As such, it is important to understand which probiotic bacteria offer the most immune benefits.  

Across numerous studies, two specific strains stand out for their impact on the immune system – Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. The human gut hosts about 30 species of Bifidobacteria and 52 species of Lactobacillus.

Probiotic products in the Biogen Supreme Probiotic range include various Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains. 

For instance, Biogen Supreme Probiotic 9 Strain contains: 

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Bifidobacterium longum

Biogen Probiotic Chews provides a suitable product for use by children to support their immune systems, with a range of potentially beneficial strains, including:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus reuteri
  • Lactobacillus gasseri
  • Lactobacillus salivarius
  • Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Bifidobacterium longum

A large body of scientific evidence affirms that Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains help prevent intestinal permeability caused by inflammatory responses, help fortify physical barriers, and support immune cell production.

In this regard, species like Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG®) have been linked to increased production of immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies, which play a vital role in protecting mucous membranes in the gut and respiratory tract from pathogens.

This strain has also been studied⁶ for its potential to reduce the frequency and duration of respiratory infections in children and adults, including COVID-19.

A 2021 study³ suggests that both Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains offer potential in reducing inflammatory responses.

Furthermore, Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium animalis (subspecies lactis Bi-07) reduced the incidence of coughing (41.4%), a runny nose (28.2%), and fever (53%) in one study⁷ on 326 children during the winter season.

A 2017 study⁸ also highlighted how four Lactobacillus strains (L. rhamnosus GG, L. rhamnosus KLSD, L. helveticus IMAU70129, and L. casei IMAU60214) affected innate immunity by modulating the production of cytokines.

And Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus were shown to suppress allergen sensitisation and were effective against allergic rhinitis in one study⁷.

When selecting the ideal product, it is important to consider your individual needs, which is best achieved in consultation with a qualified healthcare provider. 

In general, ideal probiotic products to support your immunity this winter should contain a combination of probiotic strains, particularly Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains

It is also important to consider the amount of colony-forming units (CFUs) in a probiotic supplement, as this can impact its effectiveness. 

Products like Biogen Probiotic 9-Strain offer a CFU count in the billions (> 5 billion). These higher doses are generally more potent and effective as more bacteria make it into your intestines after passing through the stomach and its acids. 

A product with a CFU count of 5 billion or higher is ideal for chronic use while products with higher CFU counts of 10 billion or higher, like Biogen Travel-Biotic 9-strain acute are ideal for acute ‘loading’ to treat specific conditions or following antibiotic use. 

For the best results, it is vital to use probiotic supplements as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to provide prebiotic material to support probiotic colonies, along with regular exercise and sufficient quality sleep to support a strong immune system.

Biogen Probiotic Range
  1. Mazziotta C, Tognon M, Martini F, Torreggiani E, Rotondo JC. Probiotics Mechanism of Action on Immune Cells and Beneficial Effects on Human Health. Cells. 2023 Jan 2;12(1):184. doi: 10.3390/cells12010184. PMID: 36611977; PMCID: PMC9818925.
  2. Xie Z, Zhang G, Liu R, Wang Y, Tsapieva AN, Zhang L, Han J. Heat-Killed Lacticaseibacillus paracasei Repairs Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Intestinal Epithelial Barrier Damage via MLCK/MLC Pathway Activation. Nutrients. 2023 Apr 4;15(7):1758. doi: 10.3390/nu15071758. PMID: 37049598; PMCID: PMC10097264.
  3. Cristofori F, Dargenio VN, Dargenio C, Miniello VL, Barone M, Francavilla R. Anti-Inflammatory and Immunomodulatory Effects of Probiotics in Gut Inflammation: A Door to the Body. Front Immunol. 2021 Feb 26;12:578386. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.578386. PMID: 33717063; PMCID: PMC7953067.
  4. Rao RK, Samak G. Protection and Restitution of Gut Barrier by Probiotics: Nutritional and Clinical Implications. Curr Nutr Food Sci. 2013 May 1;9(2):99-107. doi: 10.2174/1573401311309020004. PMID: 24353483; PMCID: PMC3864899.
  5. Mikulic J, Longet S, Favre L, Benyacoub J, Corthesy B. Secretory IgA in complex with Lactobacillus rhamnosus potentiates mucosal dendritic cell-mediated Treg cell differentiation via TLR regulatory proteins, RALDH2 and secretion of IL-10 and TGF-β. Cell Mol Immunol. 2017 Jun;14(6):546-556. doi: 10.1038/cmi.2015.110. Epub 2016 Mar 14. PMID: 26972771; PMCID: PMC5518813.
  6. Darbandi A, Asadi A, Ghanavati R, Afifirad R, Darb Emamie A, Kakanj M, Talebi M. The effect of probiotics on respiratory tract infection with special emphasis on COVID-19: Systemic review 2010-20. Int J Infect Dis. 2021 Apr;105:91-104. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2021.02.011. Epub 2021 Feb 9. Erratum in: Int J Infect Dis. 2021 Sep;110:337. PMID: 33578007; PMCID: PMC7871912.
  7. Raheem A, Liang L, Zhang G, Cui S. Modulatory Effects of Probiotics During Pathogenic Infections With Emphasis on Immune Regulation. Front Immunol. 2021 Apr 8;12:616713. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.616713. PMID: 33897683; PMCID: PMC8060567.
  8. Rocha-Ramírez LM, Pérez-Solano RA, Castañón-Alonso SL, Moreno Guerrero SS, Ramírez Pacheco A, García Garibay M, Eslava C. Probiotic Lactobacillus Strains Stimulate the Inflammatory Response and Activate Human Macrophages. J Immunol Res. 2017;2017:4607491. doi: 10.1155/2017/4607491. Epub 2017 Jul 5. PMID: 28758133; PMCID: PMC5516745.