Less sick in winter: probiotics reduce winter illnesses in children and adults

Consuming probiotics reduces the average duration of common winter ailments, according to a meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

The question of how to fight common winter ailments through nutrition has plagued researchers, and parents, for a long time. Vitamin C has succeeded in establishing itself in this field, but other candidates are likely to intervene, in particular for their role in the functioning of immune defences.

Protective probiotics

This is the case of probiotics which, through their interaction with the microbiota and therefore immunity, appear to be increasingly serious candidates. This is what emerges from this meta-analysis conducted by Dr. Sarah King (York Health Economics Consortium), which evaluated the effects of different strains of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria on the duration of acute respiratory infections (such as colds) in children and adults, based on 20 randomized controlled trials.

A modest effect but a track to cultivate

The results indicate a significant reduction in the duration of these respiratory conditions, both in children and in adults. The effect is modest, on the order of one less sick day. The authors emphasize the heterogeneous nature of the results between the different studies, which could be explained in particular by differences in the duration of the conditions according to the populations studied.

King S: Effectiveness of probiotics on the duration of illness in healthy children and adults who develop common acute respiratory infectious conditions: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Nutrition. doi: 10.1017/S0007114514000075


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