Wednesday 21 November 2018

Probiotics may help beat colds

Our health is largely determined by healthy, balanced gut flora. A study has revealed that probiotics improve the gut flora and can also help people catch fewer winter colds. 

It has been known for some time that probiotics have a whole host of beneficial effects on our health. Probiotics help with the digestive process, reduce (food) allergies and intolerances and improve the cellular and humoral immune response. [1] 

And it turns out that probiotics also help reduce the incidence of acquiring colds which return every year. Probiotics probably activate memory T-cells, that contributes to a better response towards future infections. [2] 

Fewer colds

Nine hundred subjects were involved in this double-blinded, randomised, controlled trial (RCT). Over three winter seasons, they were given probiotics or a placebo every day for twelve weeks. The subjects who received the probiotic had significantly fewer recurrent common colds than the study participants who were given the placebo. They also experienced less severe common cold symptoms during the first winter period. 

The probiotics that were administered also demonstrated an activation of the immune system in participants who were not experiencing a common cold. This immune response reinforces the results of two previous studies and therefore confirms the immune-enhancing effects of probiotics. [3]

Effect of high-fibre food

High-fibre food can also help to reduce the incidence of viral infections. A study involving mice [4] has demonstrated that fibres stimulate antiviral immunity. The fibres bring about a beneficial change in the composition of the intestinal flora, that – through fermentation of the fibres – results in an increase in the production of short-chain fatty acids. And these short-chain fatty acids have a protective effect against the cold virus, by activating the T cells. 


Probiotics work synergistically in all nutritional therapies, because good gut flora clearly improves the absorption of nutrients given through nutritional therapy. Read more about all effects of probiotics in monograph:


[1] Alberda C, et al. Effects of probiotic therapy in critically ill patients: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Mar;85(3):816-23. (Nr 4 uit natura monografie)andRabia Ashraf & Nagendra P. Shah (2014) Immune System Stimulation by Probiotic Microorganisms, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 54:7, 938-956, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2011.619671


[3] Busch, J. Gruenwald and S. Dudek, "Randomized, Double Blind and Placebo Controlled Study Using a Combination of Two Probiotic Lactobacilli to Alleviate Symptoms and Frequency of Common Cold," Food and Nutrition Sciences, Vol. 4 No. 11A, 2013, pp. 13-20. doi: 10.4236/fns.2013.411A003.

[4] Immunity, Trompette and Gollwitzer et al.: "Dietary Fiber Confers Protection against Flu by Shaping Ly6c- Patrolling Monocyte Hematopoiesis and CD8+ T Cell Metabolism" , DOI: 10.1016/j.immuni.2018.04.022