· By Tiffany Krumins

Preventing Cold & Flu with Probiotics

"The beneficial health effects of probiotics on gastrointestinal issues—such as inflammatory bowel disease, and diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome—are well known and have been extensively studied in the literature. Perhaps lesser known are the health benefits that probiotics may confer on the immune system, which may be of particular import during the cold and flu season.  

According to findings from two Cochrane reviews published in 2012and 2015, probiotic prophylaxis may shorten the duration of upper respiratory tract infections, decrease the number of sick days, and reduce prescription of antibiotics for such infections. Further support for these findings came from a 2014 review in which researchers found that probiotics can protect against viral infections, reduce the risk of getting the common cold, and lessen the number of symptomatic days from common colds in healthy people.

In yet another review, published this year, wherein researchers described the immunological mechanisms of probiotics and their health benefits on the host, they concluded the following: “Probiotic bacteria, their cell walls or probiotic fermented milk have significant effects on the functionality of the mucosal and systemic immune systems through the activation of multiple immune mechanisms.”