Kick colds to the curb all winter long

Another day, another study on the incredible power of probiotics. And with cold and flu season right around the corner, this one couldn’t have come at a better time.

According to this new research out of New Zealand, supplementing with probiotics every day might cut your risk of coming down with a stomach or upper respiratory bug this season.

Admittedly, this was a small study—just 30 subjects. But it was one of the “good” ones—that is, a human trial that used a placebo.

It was also a cross-over trial. Which means the subjects were on the probiotic for four weeks of the study. And then they took a placebo for another four weeks. (With a four-week “washout” period to clear their systems in between.)

Results showed that 53 percent of the subjects came down with either a cold or a stomach virus while taking a probiotic. Which may not sound too impressive… until you hear what happened when subjects didn’t take a probiotic.

In the placebo group, 80 percent experienced these same illnesses.

Granted, there was no difference between the two groups when it came to symptom severity. But the length of illness was significantly lower among subjects taking the probiotic every day. In fact, their illnesses lasted 3.4 days on average—compared to 5.8 days among the placebo group.

The scientists behind this study also used a combination probiotic—featuring three strains, including Lactobacillus gasseri, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and B. longum—to produce this result.

As I’ve explained time and again here in the Reality Health Check and in my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter, multiple-strain probiotic supplements are the only way to go. You have trillions of bacterial cells in your body, and they are all different. So you won’t get much support from a supplement that only contains a single strain.

One last point worth noting: The subjects in this study were professional rugby players. Presumably, the researchers recruited them because the intense exercise involved in their training regimen can erode the players’ immune defenses.

So if it can protect these guys, I’m pretty sure that it can protect you and me.

Even though most of us aren’t exposed to the physical stress and contact of team sports, we’re still inundated with germs on a daily basis. (I mean, have you ridden the NYC subway lately? Or taken an airplane ride?)

Unless you’re some kind of isolated rural survivalist, you’re going to come into contact with some pretty nasty stuff—and a whole lot of sick people. Often without even knowing it.

But imagine not getting sick all fall and winter. Or–at the very least–cutting the duration of any bugs you do catch in half. Really, all it takes is a good probiotic supplement. And that’s just one more reason why you should be taking one every single day (no matter what the season).


“Probiotic supplementation reduces the duration and incidence of infections but not severity in elite rugby union players.” J Sci Med Sport. 2014 Jul;17(4):356-60.