Parents: Probiotics Help Fight the Common Cold
A new study found that young children taking a supplement containing healthy bacteria (probiotics) and fibers that support their growth (prebiotics) got sick less often
There may not be a cure for the common cold, but fortunately there are steps you can take to prevent it, such as hand-washing and getting enough sleep and exercise. And now it appears we can add taking a probiotic supplement to this list. A new study, published in Therapeutic Advances in Respiratory Disease, found that young children taking a supplement containing strains of healthy bacteria (probiotics) and fibers that support their growth (prebiotics) got sick less often than children who were not taking the supplement.
Pro- and prebiotics can keep kids well
The 135 children, ages 3 to 7 years old, had all been sick at least three times the previous winter with either respiratory or gastrointestinal infections. They were given a combination probiotic-prebiotic supplement or placebo once daily for three months in the winter. The supplement contained 3 billion colony-forming units of a combination of
None of the children taking the supplement experienced negative side effects.
Reaching beyond the gut
"This study suggests that a three-month supplementation with this [probiotic and prebiotic] preparation can decrease the risk of occurrence of common infectious diseases in children and limits the risk of school day loss," the study's authors said.
The findings support the notion that promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria has beneficial effects beyond the gastrointestinal tract. "It is likely that probiotics are effective because they exert their effects on numerous cell types involved in the innate and adaptive immune responses," the researchers speculated.
Staying healthy in the winter
Taking care of yourself in the winter can help you avoid colds and flus:
(Ther Adv Respir Dis 2010;4:271-8)
Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice on Cortes Island in British Columbia, Canada, and has done extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.