Preventing respiratory infections
There is evidence that probiotics may help to prevent or treat a number of infections, including upper respiratory tract infections. In one study, people who took a probiotic supplement for 6 weeks had a significantly lower risk of developing a respiratory tract infection than those who did not take a probiotic (5).
Upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) are among the most common illnesses for which patients seek medical care, and result in excess costs and absence from work or school.
Microbes that predict COVID-19 severity
A strong correlation has been reported between the severity of COVID-19 and the composition of the gut microbiota. Some patients with COVID-19 showed intestinal microbial dysbiosis, with a decrease in cell numbers of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium (6).
What’s the best probiotic for your immune system?
A probiotic is a great addition to your supplement routine, but which ones help support the immune system? Here are some of the most well-researched probiotic strains for supporting immunity, as well as a healthy digestive system. And if you’d like to add even more beneficial probiotics to your diet, we’ll give you examples of some of the best ways to incorporate these into your day.
LGG, L. CASEI and BB-12 may play an important role in immune function
There are hundreds of probiotics, but clinical studies show that the probiotics LGG®, L.CASEI and BB12 are effective at supporting your immune system.
BB-12 improves bowel function, has a protective effect against diarrhea, and reduces side effects of antibiotic treatment, such as diarrhea. BB-12 also increases the body’s resistance to common respiratory infections as well as reduces acute respiratory tract infections (7).
Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) is one of the most widely used probiotic strains. Studies suggest that LGG may help promote the immune system and may help reduce the incidence of flu-like symptoms.
In one study involving students on a college campus, researchers gave participants probiotic supplements containing LGG for 12 weeks. And while they found that students caught colds at roughly the same rate, the students who took the probiotic supplementation experienced (8):
- A duration of colds that was two days shorter (4 days vs. 6 days)
- Symptoms that were 34% less severe
- A higher quality of life that resulted in fewer missed school days (15 vs. 34 missed by students taking the placebo).
Lactobacillus casei may help reduce the duration of the common cold and upper respiratory tract infections by about 2 days, according to one study (9).
A 2007 trial showed that a probiotic drink containing L. casei, L. bulgaricus, and S. thermophilus may reduce the incidence of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and C. difficile-associated diarrhea (10).
Quick tips to strengthen your gut for cold & flu season
Here are some quick tips to help you strengthen your gut and keep your immune system strong this cold and flu season:
- Cut out processed foods, sugar, and alcohol, and eat more whole, nutrient-rich foods.
- Include fermented foods in your diet, such as yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir
- Take a probiotic supplement daily, containing different strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria
- Exercise regularly and get enough sleep to reduce stress levels and support gut health.
By following these tips, you can help ensure that your gut is in tip-top shape to fight off harmful microbes this flu season. For more, follow these steps to boost immune function.
Other helpful measures to take against the Common Cold
If your cold is severe, it is important to take multiple steps to protect yourself and your family from developing a more serious illness.
- Contact a CentreSpringMD provider for a virtual visit, where you can receive care and advice without having to leave the comfort of your couch.
Additional nutritional supplements may also help strengthen your immune system as well:
Grab these! The Best Immune Supplements to Stock Up
What to remember during cold and flu season
As we head into the colder months, it’s important to remember that good gut health is key to keeping our immune system functioning at its best. Probiotics play a major role in strengthening immunity against seasonal pathogens, including viruses that cause cold and flu. Certain probiotic strains are directly active against harmful microbes and help your body’s immune system mount a strong response to infection. Probiotics can help reduce the duration of the common cold, and upper respiratory tract infections, which are responsible for many missed school days and doctor’s visits for adults and school-aged children alike. So if you’re looking for an easy way to boost your immune defenses this winter, take care of your gut health by boosting your intake of probiotics!