It’s that time of the year again: cold and flu season. And, as many of you know from first-hand experience, kids are often the biggest culprits when it comes to spreading these viruses. I’m not afraid to say it: kids are cute, but they’re also little germ magnets.
But new research points to a simple, easy way to help keep them healthy. And, by extension, prevent them from taking the whole family down with a few haphazard sneezes.
According to a study published in September, daily doses of probiotics plus vitamin C can reduce flu incidence and missed school days by more than 30 percent. (Naturally, this research was conducted in Europe. Here in the good old U.S., our research sadly continues to try to debunk the work of Linus Pauling, the Nobel Prize-winning chemist who advocated for vitamin C long before it was fashionable.)
This trial used Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium probiotic strains and vitamin C, and the participants (57 children, ages 3-5) were observed for six months.
Not only did the kids taking the probiotics and vitamin C miss 30 percent less school, but they also got 33 percent fewer colds than kids in the placebo group. Plus, the kids taking the probiotics and vitamin C needed far less medications throughout cold and flu season than the control group (including antibiotics, painkillers, cough medicine or nasal sprays). This was a particularly encouraging finding. After all, who wants to give their kids all that junk anyway?
So, if you’ve been hesitant to give your children nutritional supplements, this study should put your mind at ease. In fact, vitamin C and a good, quality probiotic (one with multiple strains of bacteria) are a good idea for the whole family.
And of course, don’t forget my old standbys that have gotten me (and my patients) through many a cold/flu season with exceptional results: AHCC, pycnogenol, and the natural powerhouses I wrote about last year in the article “My foolproof prescription for a healthy immune system,” in the October issue of my Logical Health Alternatives newsletter. Subscribers download this issue for free by logging on to www.drpescatore.com. And if you’re not already a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started.
“Probiotics and vitamin C for the prevention of respiratory tract infections in children attending preschool; a randomised controlled pilot study.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, epub ahead of print 9/10/14