Most Important Facts In Brief
- All fermented foods are produced by the growth of controlled bacteria and enzymes
- Consuming plant foods alternated with probiotics can improve your intestinal and lung health
- In addition to probiotic foods that you can add to your diet, you should also include foods that contain prebiotics such as fiber, fruits, and vegetables
Results Of Human Trials
Several small studies have shown that probiotics reduce the number of upper respiratory tract infections, as wellas the average length of illness, need for antibiotics, and work absences.7-9
Based on these findings, scientists set out to test the effectiveness of a blend of fiveprobiotics in fighting colds and flu.
The probiotics are:
- L. rhamnosus LR05.
These fiveprobiotic strains were combined withgalactooligosaccharides, a prebiotic, to further enhance effectiveness.
In a randomized, double-blind study, 250 healthy adult volunteers receivedeither the probiotic-prebiotic blend or a placebo daily for 90 days during flu season.4
In those who took the probiotic-prebiotic blend, the number of flu and flu-like respiratory illnesses was reduced by 75%,4 and thenumber of colds was reduced by 39%.4
Even in those who did develop an illness, theprobiotic-prebiotic combination led to:4
- A 37% reduction in the severity of flu symptoms,
- A 19% reduction in the severity of cold symptoms,
- An average one-day reduction in theduration of colds,
- About a three-day reduction in theduration of coughs, and
- Close to a 1.5-day reduction in the duration of all acute respiratory tract infections.
These five probiotic strains, supported by an effective prebiotic, enhance the bodys immune defenses against colds, flu, and other respiratory illnesses.
Probiotics Vs Influenza A Virus
A lot of studies investigating the effect of probiotics conclude that they confer their benefits on health by boosting the immune system. However, this study published in the journal, Scientific Reports, in 2003 indicated that probiotics may have a direct antiviral effect against the influenza virus.
In the study, the researchers introduced heat-killed Lactobacillus pentosus b240 into a mouse model infected with the influenza A virus .
Although their study did not show that the probiotic affected the replication of the virus and cytokine production, it showed that the probiotic regulated gene expression in the influenza viruses found in the lung of the mouse.
This result is important because it demonstrates that probiotics may disarm cold and flu viruses without necessarily killing them off.
The task of destroying the viruses rests with immune cells such as leucocytes and NK cells.
In addition, the results showed that this inhibition of the influenza virus occurred in the lungs. This shows that the antiviral effect of probiotics occurs in the respiratory tract, the very organ-system most affected by cold and flu.
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Probiotic Effects On Cold And Influenza
Gregory J. Leyer, Shuguang Li, Mohamed E. Mubasher, Cheryl Reifer, Arthur C. Ouwehand Probiotic Effects on Cold and Influenza-Like Symptom Incidence and Duration in Children. Pediatrics August 2009 124 : e172e179. 10.1542/peds.2008-2666
OBJECTIVE: Probiotic consumption effects on cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration were evaluated in healthy children during the winter season.
METHODS: In this double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 326 eligible children were assigned randomly to receive placebo , Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM , or L acidophilus NCFM in combination with Bifidobacterium animalis subsp lactis Bi-07 . Children were treated twice daily for 6 months.
RESULTS: Relative to the placebo group, single and combination probiotics reduced fever incidence by 53.0% and 72.7% , coughing incidence by 41.4% and 62.1% , and rhinorrhea incidence by 28.2% and 58.8% , respectively. Fever, coughing, and rhinorrhea duration was decreased significantly, relative to placebo, by 32% and 48% . Antibiotic use incidence was reduced, relative to placebo, by 68.4% and 84.2% . Subjects receiving probiotic products had significant reductions in days absent from group child care, by 31.8% and 27.7% , compared with subjects receiving placebo treatment.
Probiotics For Respiratory Tract Infections And Common Colds
Last updated on By Ken Silvers
Respiratory tract infections are common during the cold and flu season. A study in 2011 shows that probiotics is a safe way to prevent common colds.
Most colds are caused by viral infections and are usually resolved by themselves after three to seven days. Probiotics for common colds is not new but a new study indicates probiotics help limit the number of sick days.
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Can I Make Probiotics At Home
Yes, you can make probiotics at home, and it’s easy! I have instructions on the site for making:
Any naturally fermented product that is not heat treated can introduce good bacteria into your body.
You can buy cultures to get started online, and you may be able to find them from friends . There are also online culture swap groups. Many vegetable ferments can be started with just some salt, salt water, or salt and whey.
I am an affiliate for Kombucha Kamp, and I trust them to provide quality cultures, including scobys and kefir grains.
What Else Can You Do To Avoid Catching A Winter Bug
Aim to eat the rainbow every day and ensure half your plate is fruit and vegetables at each meal. Eating a well-balanced plant-based diet is one of the best ways to stay healthy and productive during cold and flu season in addition to controlling stress , sleeping 7-9 hours per night, washing your hands and moving your body. It is worth it to make these things a priority, even when you are busy your productivity and mental performance are best when your body is healthy!
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Does Your Child Have A Cold
Youve only just put away the tissues from last time, but it seems your child has yet another cold. Whats going on?
Kids can get 7-10 colds per year, making them a rather frequent occurrence for most families.
Main symptoms of a cold
Kids with colds will usually have a runny or blocked nose, sneeze a lot, and experience a sore or scratchy throat, or headaches.
At the beginning, your child will seem to need endless boxes of tissues and lots of extra love. After the first couple of days, their symptoms will usually start to ease before finally disappearing in a week to a fortnight. Remember though, if they persist or worsen, take them to your family GP for a proper check-up.
Why do kids get so many colds?
Young children get more colds than older kids and adults because theyre still building up their immunity to the many different cold viruses they encounter.
Childrens behaviour also helps colds to spread. Some cough and sneeze onto their hands and wipe snot away with their fingers. Then they touch thingsa toy or another childand pass on those germs. Lovely!
The good news is that once your child has had a cold, they can become immune to that particular virus, meaning they may get fewer colds as they get older.
What can you do about your childs cold?
We now know that building up your childs immune system can help to reduce the frequency of the common cold. But how exactly do we achieve this?
Got A Cold Try Probiotics
Whether it is summer or winter, there’s never a bad time to consider protecting yourself against common cold and flu viruses. Especially when the results of a human trial1 published in the clinical journal Synthetic and Systems Biology have us feeling much more clued up on those dreaded winter bugs!
Research from the adult study showed that three particular probiotic strains found in a probiotic drink are safe and effective for fighting the common cold and influenza-like respiratory infections by boosting the immune system. The probiotics used included two strains of Lactobacillus paracasei, and Lactobacillus fermentium PCC®.
Up to 70% of the immune system is based in the gut, hence why good bacteria supplements are thought to be a great option for restoring balance when cold or flu-like symptoms appear. Go gut health! The authors expand on this concept in relation to their study, saying:
The human gut microbiota is an important environmental factor for human health with evolutionarily conserved roles in immune health, metabolism, development, and behaviour of the host. Probiotic organisms are claimed to offer several functional properties including stimulation of immune system. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of a probiotic supplementation on adults who have contracted the common cold four or more times in the past year.
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Improve Your Immune System
There are good reasons for taking a probiotic, especially if youre older. However, one of the most important reasons for taking a probiotic right now is boosting your immunity to the flu.
Based on a systematic review of studies, researchers concluded taking a probiotic or a prebiotic anywhere from 2-28 weeks, boosted the overall effect of receiving a flu shot especially when taken for longer periods of time and by healthy older folks, too.
Do Probiotics Help Your Immune System
Foods that affect gut health may help with more than just digestive ailments. Heres what the latest research says.
Between the upcoming flu season, seasonal allergies, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there are lots of reasons to give your immune system a boost. For that big job, more people are turning to a tiny resource.
Probiotics are living microorganisms, and you already have some of them in your body. Others come from food, specifically fermented foods such as yogurt, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health .
Probiotics are sometimes called good bacteria: They can help your body digest food and even fight cells that cause disease. Probiotics have shown promise in helping ease diarrhea, ulcerative colitis, and periodontal disease, according to the NCCIH. Research about other benefits of these beneficial bacteria is ongoing, and one area of particular interest is how they impact immunity.
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Which Probiotics Are Best
If you purchase probiotics for colds and flu, make sure you look for live and active cultures. Read the label you want good bacteria that are still frisky. Watch out for brands that are full of sugar and/or artificial ingredients. These work against your bodys ability to heal.
Fermenting at home can provide healthy foods for pennies on the dollar compared to store products. You can also sneak probiotics in for fussy eaters by making snacks such as probiotic smoothies.
If you are in the middle of an active cold with phlegm production, non-dairy probiotic options are probably a better choice.
Probiotics are not a magic bullet and there is no guarantee that you won’t get sick. Adding live culture foods to your diet is just one thing you can do to stay healthy.
Remember to always wash your hands, cough into your elbow, and contact a trained health care provider in case of serious illness.
A Healthy Gut Supports Your Bodys Immune System
80% of your immune system resides in your gut. Therefore, its no surprise that the bacteria in your gut heavily influence your immune system.
Luckily, we are starting to understand more and more how we can positively influence the environment in the gut, and with that our overall health and wellbeing, by supplementing with probiotics. Probiotics ensure that good bacteria are replenished in the gut in order to maintain a healthy intestinal system and overall organism.
Studies show that certain probiotic bacteria are especially effective when it comes to boosting your bodys immune system. OMNi-BiOTiC® BALANCE contains specially selected and combined bacterial strains that strengthen the gut barrier which we know helps protect against harmful bacteria and viruses from spreading in the body and helps balance the immune system in two critical ways.
First, OMNi-BiOTiC® BALANCE contains probiotic strains that are known to increase IL-10 production in the body, thus helping your body manage inflammation. IL-10 is a messenger substance of the immune system that protects against exaggerated inflammatory processes and autoimmune diseases.
Second, OMNi-BiOTiC®BALANCE can help strengthen mucosal membranes to help protect against respiratory infections.
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Do Probiotics Keep You From Getting Sick
It makes sense that probiotics have proved effective in treatment of digestive diseases. More than half the cells that create antibodies for fighting sickness are in the intestines and other organs in the gut, according to InformedHealth.org. If you have healthy gut flora the balance of helpful bacteria and other organisms in your intestines you may be less likely to get sick.
Scientists are interested in probiotics potential to support immune function, but so far research has not produced clear evidence that probiotics are truly effective in preventing things like a cold or the flu. A review published in October 2020 in the journal Nutrients looked at the most recent research on probiotics and the immune system, specifically with regard to respiratory illness. The authors concluded that probiotic use is associated with a lower rate and duration of mild respiratory tract infections in children and adults, but again, more research is needed. There is also early evidence to suggest that probiotics might help prevent COVID-19 infection when used alongside other treatments, according to a study published in August 2021 in the Archives of Medical Research.
Reviews Of Past Studies
A 2013 study published in the Korean Journal of Family Medicine reviewed past studies investigating the benefits of probiotics for preventing the common cold.
The authors selected 10 studies involving almost 3,000 participants. The results of their review showed that probiotics provided a modest but significant effect on the reduction of the common cold. In their opinion, probiotics were effective with or without vitamins and minerals.
In addition, they found probiotics more effective when taken for longer than 3 months.
A 2011 review from The Cochrane Collaboration analyzed available evidence to determine whether probiotics can help prevent respiratory infections.
Lastly, the authors found that probiotics only caused minor gastrointestinal symptoms and were largely safe for consumption.
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Probiotic Drink Reduced Cold Flu
In the prospective study, a yogurt drink containing three probiotic strains, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus casei 431, and Lactobacillus fermentium PCC, was shown to be effective in fighting cold and flu-like respiratory infections by boosting the immune system in subjects who contracted the common cold four or more times in the past year.
Results of a human prospective trial1 published in the clinical journal Synthetic and Systems Biology suggest that a yogurt probiotic drink may help reduce the incidence of upper respiratory infections and symptoms of the common cold. In the study, three probiotic strains, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus casei 431, and Lactobacillus fermentium PCC, were shown to be effective in fighting cold and flu-like respiratory infections by boosting the immune system in subjects who contracted the common cold four or more times in the past year. All of the probiotics used in this study were supplied by Chr. Hansen in lyophilized powder form.
The studys authors thus concluded this probiotic beverage is safe and effective for fighting the common cold and influenza-like respiratory infections by boosting the immune system. They added that while there is good evidence that probiotics provide support for the immune system, additional in vivo studies may be needed to confirm that probiotic-mediated immune support prolongs resistance to various infections and diseases in humans.
Foods To Boost Immunity
Melissa Baker is the Manager of Nutrition & Wellbeing at UBC Food Services.
We all know that dreaded feeling of waking up with a scratchy, dry throat. You know a cold is coming, and have no way to stop it. This is especially troublesome during midterms and final exams! On average, you are likely to get 2.5 colds per year and miss about nine hours of school or work per cold.
Pills, supplements and herbal remedies touting their remarkable ability to boost your resistance to viruses shouldnt be your first choice. There are other ways to ward off viruses that are easier on your wallet and better for your body. Research shows that getting enough of a few micronutrients may help protect you from illness, and opting to get these micronutrients from food is superior to supplements because they provide more nourishment than a supplement alone.
Here are some key foods to include in your diet this cold and flu season:
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How Probiotics Fight Colds And Flu
Flu and cold viruses strike the upper respiratory tract. These are the passageways through which air passes when we breathe, including the nasal cavity and throat.
The membrane lining these spaces and the sinuses is called the respiratory mucosa.
This delicate mucosa is prone to invasion by viruses that cause the flu, colds, and other infections .
Healthy bacteria thrive in the secretions lining the mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, just like they do in the gut.7 There, these beneficial bacteria help to fight harmful viruses and bacteria that cause disease.
The mucosal defense system is a critical immune factor that defends against invasion by disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
But the immune system, including the mucosal defense system, weakens as we age.8 This makes it easier for viruses to gain a foothold in susceptible tissues.
People with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, and other illnesses may also have weakened immune systems, putting them at even higher risk for respiratory tract infections.
Multiple studies show that a carefully chosen blend of probiotics taken orally can boost the mucosal defense, warding off the harmful viruses that cause upper respiratory tract infections like colds and flu.9-12
Most of these probiotic bacteria end up in the gut. But the mucosal defenses they strengthen favorably affect the neighboring respiratory tract as well.9,11 They also help boost general immune function.
Choosing A Probiotic Supplement
The interactions between our immune system and our GALT are believed to be specific to individual strains of probiotic bacteria. When selecting a supplement, look for strains that are well characterised and researched, with specific names such as ‘Lactobacillus acidophilus La-14’ or ‘Bifidobacterium lactis HN019’, instead of plain Lactobacillus acidophilus or just Bifidobacterium lactis. For optimum benefit, choose a supplement that provides at least 3 different strains, as well as a known quantity of bacteria, such as 10 billion to 50 billion colony forming units per dose.
Dr Sarah Brewer is Healthspan’s Medical Director and holds degrees in Natural Sciences, Surgery and Medicine from the University of Cambridge. Having worked as a GP and hospital doctor, Dr Sarah now holds an MSc in Nutritional Medicine from the University of Surrey and specialises in nutrition. She is also an award-winning writer and author.
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