Perhaps seniors should be getting more probiotics as the flu and cold season approaches. That’s because data are accumulating to suggest that good bacteria may be able to help ward off these viral diseases.
One study carried out in Italy found that regular long-term intake of certain probiotics reduced the likelihood of respiratory infection during the cold season. An earlier randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study from Germany had shown that a probiotic formulation with vitamins and minerals reduced incidence and severity of cold symptoms during the winter. More recently, a study carried out in Shanghai demonstrated that children who received probiotic supplements got substantially fewer colds, coughs and runny noses in the winter.
If all this preliminary research holds up, perhaps we would all be healthier during flu season if we ate more fermented foods containing beneficial bacterial or took probiotic supplements.
[International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Therapy and Toxicology, July, 2005]
[Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, Sept. 2008]
[Pediatrics, Aug, 2009]

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  1. Gail D.
    Reply

    I have been taking an acidopholus supplement for years, but recently decided to try a supplement with billions of cultures of 10 strains of bacteria. Since taking it I started have very soft stools, which I don’t like. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I decided to just take the probiotic supplement every other day or even 3 days a week. I don’t know if that is good or not. Any help out there on this?

  2. Liz
    Reply

    I disdained comments about probiotics until I thought “what the heck, try it” when I got a coupon for Dan-Active. Hey, tasted good, fit into my fast fix high nutrition low calorie diet. To my surprise, after two weeks of one serving per day my persistent periodontal disease was gone. I got lazy and stopped using the stuff, a week later the periodontal disease was back. The ONLY change in diet was the probiotics.
    I’m convinced.
    But being human I got lazy again.
    Three years ago I got pneumonia. Doc gave me antibiotics, the pneumonia had sapped my energy, doc said after antibiotics kill the bug it would be three months before I had full energy. I prowled on line, folks said after a course of antibiotics take probiotics. I bought Green Vibrance, took some at noon, within an hour I felt like dancing. Three months, hah! A week later I was on a cruise and having a blast of a good time as if I’d never been sick.
    I’m convinced!
    But I got lazy and stopped probiotics.
    Four days ago I got hit by flu. Late the second day the fever broke, but flu leaves you with that lingering total lack of energy. Plus a secondary small fever popped up, wouldn’t go away yesterday, higher fever this morning. I wondered if flu kills the digestive bugs and you don’t get food value from food, that could explain flu’s trademark prolonged loss of energy. No harm trying. Prowled thru my pantry, found a can of Barlean’s Greens in the freezer. Before breakfast and about three hours later I mixed some with 1/4 cup of apple sauce, not a bad taste at all!
    I swear I can feel the energy pouring into me, slowly steadily. And the secondary fever is gone!
    I am not fully recovered from the energy drain of flu, but I am so much better than before my first dose of probiotics this morning.
    I’m convinced!
    I am not recommending any particular brand or use, I’m just reporting what I happened to buy and use, and the effects on me.

  3. JulieB
    Reply

    This topic has me doing some research and I found a couple of good websites to look at. The Mayo Clinic site and Webmd site both have basic definitions and overviews. I’ll be learning more about pro-biotics and hope there is a program on the People’s Pharm. about these apparently good guys.

  4. RMD
    Reply

    Now let’s not all run out and stuff ourselves with Probiotics, whatever they are! Remember use Common Sense, Eat a healthy balanced diet, exercise regularly, get enough sleep (at least 8 hours), take a reasonable amount of vitamin supplements, try to reduce stress in your life (maybe meditation?) and if you smoke, stop. All these will help to strengthen your immune system and will in all likelihood reduce your incidences and severity of colds and flu. Also make sure you get your yearly flu shot, especially if you are prone to respiratory diseases.

  5. Jo
    Reply

    This article tells nothing – what are probiotics? What food contains probiotics? I’ve been a fan of People’s Pharmacy for more years than I can remember, always got the full story but lately things have changed.
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: PROBIOTICS ARE BENEFICIAL BACTERIA. THEY MAY BE FOUND IN YOGURT WITH ACTIVE CULTURES OR IN PILL FORM. DANNON ALSO SELLS LITTLE BOTTLES OF PROBIOTICS UNDER THE BRAND NAME DANACTIVE. OTHER COMPANIES OFFER SIMILAR PRODUCTS.
    THE IDEA IS THAT BENEFICIAL BACTERIA CAN CROWD OUT THE BAD ONES. WE DO NOT KNOW WHY PROBIOTICS WOULD HELP CHILDREN FIGHT OFF COLDS OR OTHER VIRAL INFECTIONS.

  6. kaf
    Reply

    Pro-biotics are in fermented foods like sauerkraut, but are also in yogurt, buttermilk and, yes, sour cream, if it is cultured. You do want Active Live Cultures, so read the labels, some yogurts don’t have live cultures and are more gelatin than cultured milk. There are a number of other fermented foods that may also be helpful.

  7. Robin
    Reply

    Fermented foods include sauerkraut and other salt-cured vegetables. There are recipes online if you want to try to make it yourself. Yogurt is easily available (unsweetened), and is easy to make, too.

  8. JulieB
    Reply

    So where do we find out more about probiotics? What specific foods are in this category and what brands or websites sell reliable supplements? I think we should be very careful about where we buy our supplements from I’m sure that there are companies that can be trusted and others we should avoid. Pretty interesting study!

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