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Probiotic May Help Reduce Frequency of Respiratory Illness

As we age, our immune systems become less efficient, exposing us to increased likelihood of developing infections. A recent study suggests that taking supplements containing the probiotic Bacillus subtilis may reduce the frequency of upper respiratory infections in mature adults.


Participants in the study included 100 healthy volunteers between the ages of 60 and 74 with an established history of infection during the winter. They were given either a Bacillus subtilis supplement or a placebo daily for a 10-day period during the winter. The researchers then followed up for 18 days following the intervention period.


At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted no significant differences between the probiotic and control groups when it came to mean number of days with reported infectious disease symptoms. They did find, however, that in 44 of the participants, the probiotic supplement was associated with a 45% decrease in the occurrence of upper respiratory infections. They also noted a significant increase in secretory IgA in the probiotic group. Secretory Iga is the main immunoglobin in mucus secretions and is the first line of defense in protecting the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts against pathogens.


Researchers from Lesaffre Group and the University of Bordeaux conducted the study. It was published in the December 2015 issue of Immunity & Aging.


While probiotics are most commonly linked to improving digestion and gut health, they have also been shown to have other health benefits, including a stronger immune system, and a reduced risk of chronic disease.


Probiotics can be found naturally in many foods, such as yogurt, milk and sauerkraut. You may also consider taking a high quality supplement but make sure it is packaged to block light, air and moisture, which can easily kill probiotics.

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