Summer colds ride in on the baggage of the season: packed flights, aggressive air conditioning, outdoor air pollution, and even the sleep we miss because nighttime sunshine is too sweet to miss.
Luckily, because fruits and vegetables taste so good this time of year, we revel in more phytochemicals than the rest of the year. Probiotics should be part of that menu.
Research suggests that good bacteria, whether through fermented foods or supplements, have a beneficial role in respiratory infections including colds.
Probiotics appear to be integral to respiratory health because of several well-documented features:
- Lessening intestinal permeability by which pathogens invade
- Bolstering the immune system to fight infections
- Reducing inflammation
Multiple studies on humans attest to the probiotic benefit:
One study in hospitalized patients tested fermented milk to which strains of Lactobacillus rhamnosus had been added and found that respiratory tract infections were reduced and shorter.
A larger study analyzed 20 randomized controlled trials to see if probiotics impacted respiratory illness. Indeed, probiotic treatment– Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains—reduced the average duration of illness episodes, the number of days of illness per person and the number of days absent from work or school or day care as opposed to those people treated with placebo.
And in 2015, researchers in Europe designed a study to evaluate if probiotics and Vitamin C together would prevent respiratory illness in children.
Fifty-seven preschoolers received probiotics (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) plus 50 mg Vitamin C or a placebo daily for 6 months. The probiotic when compared to placebo:
- Reduced upper respiratory tract infection (URTI)
- Reduced number of days with URTI
- Reduced absence from preschool
Take-away: Try to avoid those summer colds by working more cultured foods like yogurt, kimchi and kefir into your meal plan. And maybe take a supplement for good measure.