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Probiotics May Reduce Illness In Athletes

A recent study suggests that taking a daily supplement of probiotics may reduce the incidence of gastrointestinal and upper respiratory tract infections in athletes.

Participants in the study included 30 professional rugby players who took either a daily dose of three billion colony forming units of a supplement containing the probiotics Lactobacillus gasseri, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and B. longum or a placebo once daily for four weeks. That period was followed by a four week washout period, after which the athletes switched interventions.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted that only 53% of the supplement group experienced a single episode of the common cold, stomach or gut upset. In comparison, 80% of the placebo group experienced such illnesses.

Additionally, the probiotic group had a shorter length of illness at 3.4 days, while the placebo group had 5.8 days of illness.

The researchers noted that these results could be relevant for other contact sport athletes, who spend long periods of time in close quarters while undergoing strenuous training.

Researchers from the University of Otago and the Chiefs Rugby Franchise in New Zealand conducted the study. It was published in the July 2014 issue of Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.

Probiotics are most commonly linked to improving digestion and gut health. However, they have also been shown to help strengthen the immune system and reduce the 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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