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Probiotics Linked With Improved Immune Function in Mature Adults

Mature adults can be more susceptible to infections due to changes in their gut microbiota and immune systems. A recent study found that taking a supplement of the probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 may improve white blood cell activity in that population and strengthen immune function.

Participants in the study included 37 people healthy adults who, over the course of 21 days, were given either 8 grams of the prebiotic galacto-olgiosaccharides (GOS), 109 colony-forming units per day of the probiotic Bi-07, a combination of GOS and Bi-07, or maltodextrin as a placebo. The interventions were followed by a 28-day washout period.

The researchers found that the Bi-07 group had higher phagocytic activity of monocytes and granucytes (types of white blood cells). Phagocytic activity occurs when the white blood cells engulf bacteria and kill it.

The researchers noted that the 28 day washout period was not long enough to completely remove the probiotic from the participants’ bodies, even though that time period tends to be sufficiently long in general adult populations. This suggests that the effects of probiotics may last longer in mature adults.

Researchers from the University of Reading in the UK and DuPont Nutrition & Health conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on January 2, 2014, in Journal of Nutritional Science.

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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