Study finds probiotics benefit athletes


A reduction in typical winter illnesses was dramatic

WORLD Australian researchers have found probiotics reduce the number and length of infections suffered by long-distance runners, whose heavy-duty training can diminish their immune systems.

The study, conducted at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, focused on 20 elite endurance runners during a four-month winter-training programme when colds and respiratory illness were common.

The athletes were given a probiotics supplement over two months, as well as a placebo. Total days of illness fell from 72 for those on placebo, compared to 30 for those days when probiotics were administered.

Blood tests found doubled levels of the immune system-boosting chemical interferon gamma, in those athletes taking probiotics at the time.

"An improvement in resistance to common illnesses constitutes an important benefit to elite athletes undertaking high-level training in preparation for national and international competitions," the authors wrote.

Further investigation was required to determine if a similar effect would be apparent in the general population, they said.

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