While most people take probiotics to support their immune system, results from clinical research have been mixed. Of course, considering that about 80% of our immune system resides in the gastrointestinal tract, it makes sense that by improving conditions within the GI tract, the immune system will benefit.
Therefore, the researcher behind this latest study sought to conduct a meta-analysis to see what the totality of evidence suggests. What they found was that Lactobacillus and/or Bifidobacterium strains typically present in yoghurt and dietary supplements were associated with fewer days of illness (of an upper respiratory tract infection, URTI) per person, shorter illness episodes, and fewer days absent from daycare, school or work (compared to participants who had taken a placebo).
This meta-analysis shows that the addition of live Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria to your daily routine can reduce the duration of URTIs (e.g. colds). The data revealed that probiotics were associated with significantly fewer days of illness per person, as well as shorter episodes of illness by almost a day, and fewer numbers of days absent from day care/school/work, compared to placebo.
This could translate into significant cost savings for our economy. Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 20 million workdays (for adults) are lost annually due to the common cold. Further 22 million school days are lost for children, but this also means parents are taking time off work to care for them. The economic impact of colds (just in the US) is estimated to be about $40 billion every year.
Sounds like a good corporate policy to subsidize probiotic products to ensure all their employees and their families are kept as healthy as possible!
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Source: Effectiveness of probiotics on the duration of illness in healthy children and adults who develop common acute respiratory infectious conditions: a systematic review and meta-analysis