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.