Sending Kids Off to College? Consider Packing Probiotics
Those who received the probiotic supplement experienced a shorter median duration (by two days) of upper respiratory tract infections
College can be one of the most exciting times in a young person's life, but the experience can expose young adults to a host of viruses. Many of these upper respiratory tract infections are known as the common cold, and though a cold is rarely serious, it can cause plenty of misery and missed classes. A probiotic dietary supplement may be one easy way to lessen that misery, at least a bit.
Probiotic versus placebo
Researchers randomly assigned 231 healthy college students to take a probiotic dietary supplement or a placebo (no probiotic) once daily for 12 weeks. The probiotic provided a minimum daily dose of one billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of two probiotic bacteria: Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG (LGG) and Bifidobacterium animalis subspecies lactis BB-12. A colony-forming unit is one live, viable bacterium that can reproduce.
Neither the students nor the researchers knew who received the probiotic or the placebo, and 198 students (86%) completed the entire 12-week study. Study participants provided information on whether, and how severely, they experienced symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection, as well as missed days of school and work throughout the research period.
Compared with students taking the placebo, those who received the probiotic supplement:
Picking a probiotic, and other ways to nix a cold
This study was small and of short duration, but still, it points to a relatively simple thing that may help college kids bounce back faster when they catch a cold. Our tips on picking a probiotic, along with other cold-quashing ideas can help you keep the people in your life healthier.
(Br J Nutr doi:10.1017/S0007114512004138)
Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by the New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.