Probiotics cut runners' sick days in half

February 20, 2008 in Gastrointestinal Health, Nutrition Topics in the News, Sports Nutrition and Exercise

Probiotics cut runners' sick days in half

Distance runners may have lowered immunity which makes them more vulnerable to catching colds. New research from Australia has shown that a daily dose of "good" probiotic bacteria could bring their immunity back up to speed.

In this study, 20 healthy distance runners were given either a capsule of Lactobacillus fermentum, a probiotic, or a placebo pill every day during their 4-month winter training season. The runners ran an average of 100 killometers (62 miles) per week.

Runners who took the probiotic averaged 30 days of cough and cold symptoms during the course of the study, compared to 72 days for those on placebo.

Probiotics work by providing good bacteria in the gut to maintain a healthy balance in the digestive tract and stimulating the immune system. It appears that probiotics also doubled levels of interferon gamma, an immune marker that plays a key role in fighting viral infections like the common cold.

Fermented milk products like yogurt and kefir, and tempeh (fermented soy), are good sources of probiotic bacteria.

The benefits of probiotics are not limited to elite athletes.  People in physically demanding or stressful jobs can also improve their resistance to colds with probiotics.

Try topping your morning cereal with half a cup of low-fat probiotic yogurt or blend one cup of kefir, a banana and handful of fresh berries for a quick and refreshing breakfast.

For more information on how to enjoy more probiotics, check out Leslie Beck's Foods that Fight Disease.

This study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.