Nutrition & Vitamins : What Is a Probiotic Diet?
More Proof That Probiotics Boost Immunity
Yogurt, with its “friendly” bacteria, has a centuries-old reputation as a health food. Now, more research than ever substantiates the claim that the bacteria found in yogurt and other naturally fermented foods can strengthen the body’s immune system and ward off infection, not just in the intestines but body-wide.
The latest research published in theJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that New Zealand athletes had about 40% fewer colds and gastrointestinal infections when they took a probiotic compared to when they took a placebo.
Other research has found that probiotic supplements may greatly lower the risk of an antibiotic-resistant superbug, Clostridium difficile, which is increasingly common in nursing homes and hospitals and named by the CDC as an "urgent threat" in their 2013 report on Antibiotic Resistant Infections.C. diff.can cause severe diarrhea and life-threatening inflammation of the colon. “In people taking an antibiotic, also taking a probiotic reduced the risk of developingC. diff. by two-thirds,” says Joshua Goldenberg, ND, a naturopathic physician at the Northshore Family Practice in Kenmore, Washington, and co-author of aCochrane Library Reviewon the subject. “That is quite impressive. There are very few medical interventions, conventional or naturopathic, that improve results by that much."
However, probiotics may not be safe in people who are severely immunocompromised, Dr. Goldenberg adds. He recommends talking with your doctor if you want to use a probiotic to ward off antibiotic-associated GI troubles. Strains of probiotics that have been found helpful for preventingC. diff. areSaccharomyces boulardii andLactobacillus acidophilus, which are thought to inhibit adherence ofC. diffto the intestinal wall.
If you’re just trying to ward off whatever is going around this winter, you might want to try a product similar to that used in the New Zealand study, Probiotica P3 (Nutra-Life), an over-the-counter product that does not require refrigeration, containingLactobacillus gasseri(2.6 billion colony-forming units (CFU),Bifidobacterium bifidum(0.2 billion CFU) andBifidobacterium longum(0.2 billion CFU.) You probably need a minimum of 2 billion CFU to be effective and to consume them for at least two weeks before they kick in, says lead researcher Katherine Black, PhD, of the Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Otago, New Zealand.
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