Washington: Probiotic supplements can help reduce the symptoms and duration of colds and respiratory infections by 34 per cent, a new study has claimed.
Researchers from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-School of Health Related Professions (UMDNJ-SHRP) tested a group of 198 university students living in close quarters during a cold outbreak.
College students are notoriously sleep-deprived, live in close quarters and lead stress-filled lives, making them especially susceptible for contracting colds and upper-respiratory infections.
Researchers selected this population to study the effects of probiotic supplementation on health-related quality of life (HRQL) during the common cold.
Tracey J Smith, an adjunct professor at UMDNJ-SHRP, randomised the students aged 18 to 25 in a first of its kind research.
Groups received either a placebo (97 students) or a powder blend containing probiotic strains BB-12 and LGG for 12 weeks.
Each day, students completed a survey to assess the effect of the probiotic supplementation.
"HRQL is subjectively assessed by the patient and most simply defined as `the component of overall quality of life that is determined primarily by the person`s health and that can be influenced by clinical interventions,`" Smith said.
"We know that certain probiotic strains support immune health and may improve health-related quality of life during upper-respiratory infections," says Smith.
The study found that while all students caught colds at roughly the same rate, the students who took the probiotic supplementation experienced a duration of colds that was two days shorter (four days vs six days).
They experienced symptoms that were 34 per cent less severe and a higher quality of life that resulted in fewer missed school days (15 vs 34).
"Probiotic microorganisms may soften your immune system`s reaction by reducing your body`s inflammatory response.
"If cost is not an issue, then otherwise healthy persons who are especially stressed, sleep-deprived or living in close quarters [such as a college dormitory] could supplement daily during cold season with both LGG and BB12 to improve their quality of life if/when they do get a cold," says Smith.