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Can You Fight Bacteria with Bacteria? Study Says Yes.

A new study published in the February 2009 issue of the journal Vaccine found that daily probiotic supplements can boost immune health and prevent a variety of infections in children.

Probiotic supplements contain “friendly” bacteria that are similar to the beneficial microorganisms found in your gut. Maintaining a healthy level of good bacteria plays a crucial role in digestive health and immune system function.

For the study, researchers from three universities in Taiwan recruited 1,062 children under the age of 5. Each child was randomly assigned to one of four groups.

The first group received no supplement and acted as a control. The second received a daily probiotic supplement of L. casei rhamnosus bacteria (200 million units). The third received L. rhamnosus bacteria (10 billion units) and the fourth group received a supplement containing 12 different bacteria strains.

Bacterial infections were reduced by almost 200% in the L. casei rhamnosus and L. rhamnosus groups (compared to the control) but no infection reduction was observed in the multiple strain group.

In the multiple strain group short term gastrointestinal diseases were reduced by 42% and long term gastrointestinal diseases were reduced by 44% compared to the control.

Finally, viral infections were reduced by 18% in the L. casei rhamnosus compared to the control group.

This study suggests that probiotic supplementation may be particularly important for children who are exposed to a variety of infectious diseases and bacteria, especially once they begin school.

Probiotics have increased in popularity lately, probably because of the growing body of research exposing their many benefits. These friendly bacteria have been shown repeatedly to support immune and digestive health, combat disease causing bad bacteria and even prevent bad breath.
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