In a time of pandemic, we want to build our immunity in order to avoid getting sick. Some of the ingredients we may use are beneficial for the health of our pets too.
Protecting our health
During this COVID-19 crisis, we all want to protect the health of our family as much as we can. We stock up on protective gear, antiseptics and supplements, and some of us tend to be more mindful about the regular exercise and eating healthy. We want to build our immunity to avoid getting sick. And we want the same for our pets.
Still, we have to be cautious when it comes to true meaning of words used to get our attention, like ‘boosting immunity’. This expression is very vague in a medical sense and often not backed by science. The more proper wording would be ‘improving or supporting the immune response’ and the whole process of scientifically proving it is a complex task.
So, which food ingredients can support the immune response in humans and animals? The evidence of beneficial effects of probiotics is mounting and no wonder, since probiotics primarily support gut health.
One study showed how consuming probiotics every morning decreased the incidence of viral respiratory infections in children. In another recent study, on dogs, probiotics ( and ) had the most beneficial effect on elderly dogs, and led to improved host immunity by stimulating antibody and cytokine secretion through gut microbiota.
Insects are interesting as an alternative protein source for pet food and their effects on immune response are also coming to light. Recent research suggests that some of the bioactive components of insects, such as lauric acid, antimicrobial peptides and chitin, can improve gut health and immunity.
And when it comes to insects, honeybee-based products like propolis, pollen and honey have been used for centuries to improve human and animal health.
There is already a vast amount of scientific evidence that these products are a great source of natural antibiotic alternatives with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties. Their use in companion animals is relatively new, but surely will become a standard of care, especially given the increase in consumer demand for natural and sustainable health solutions.
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