Probiotics may help fight common cold

Probiotics may help fight common cold

Probiotic supplementation was found to be effective in treating symptoms of the common cold in college students, according to a new study.

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.

For these reasons, a team lead by researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–School of Health Related Professions (UMDNJ–SHRP) selected this population to study the effects of probiotic supplementation on health-related quality of life (HRQL) during the common cold.

The study, led by Registered Dietitian Tracey J. Smith, an adjunct professor at UMDNJ–SHRP, randomized 198 college students aged 18 to 25 and living on-campus in residence halls at Framingham State University in Massachusetts.

Groups received either a placebo (97 students) or a powder blend containing Chr. Hansen’s probiotic strains BB-12® and LGG® (101 students) for 12 weeks. Each day, students completed a survey to assess the effect of the probiotic supplementation.

Although there have been previous studies on the effect of probiotics on the duration of colds and severity of symptoms, this is the first study to investigate the effect of probiotic strains on HRQL during upper-respiratory infections, taking into account duration, symptom severity and functional impairment—all important factors of HRQL.

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  and symptoms that were 34 percent less severe.

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