Dr. Jaclyn Chasse, naturopathic physician and Medical Educator at Emerson Ecologics, President of the New Hampshire Association of Naturopathic Doctors says, that when most people think about probiotics, they think about the important role they play in supporting digestive health.
There is a large body of research demonstrating the vital role that probiotics play in the proper functioning of the intestines as well as digestion, absorption, and assimilation of nutrients. In contrast, some people are not aware of some of the other beneficial effects of probiotic supplementation. One of the less publicized benefits of probiotics is the beneficial effect on the immune system.
Several human studies have been published demonstrating the protective effect of probiotics against several types of infectious organisms. With increasing concerns around superbugs and contagious diseases, probiotics are an inexpensive, safe, and easy option to support a healthy immune response to organisms and viruses in our environment.
In a double-blind study conducted in China, school aged children who received probiotics for six months had a significantly lower incidence of cold symptoms compared with children who received a placebo.
Another double-blind trial of children in daycare centers demonstrated that children supplemented with probiotic organisms for three months had a 34% decrease in incidence of upper respiratory tract infections. Several trials have demonstrated that supplementation with probiotic bacteria can reduce the incidence of infectious diarrhea in children, one of the most common causes for hospitalization in that age group.
It is thought that probiotic bacteria inhibit the growth of potentially pathogenic organisms by producing acids, hydrogen peroxide, and natural antibiotics called bacteriocins and microcins (Fernandes 1987). They also consume nutrients and space that would be needed by infectious organisms in order to grow. It is hypothesized that some probiotic bacteria may stimulate immune attacks on pathogens directly.
Probiotics remain a safe choice for most individuals in order to support the immune system. When you consider the financial impact of even minor illness, probiotics remain a viable and cost-effective option to support a healthy immune response.
14 October 2011