Probiotics Might Help Guard Against Upper Respiratory Symptoms

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Daily probiotic use might help protect against upper-respiratory-tract infection (URTI) symptoms in vulnerable populations including older adults and those who are overweight, new research suggests.

“We believe this current research is a further piece of evidence to support and expand upon the idea that the gut microbiome has a complex relationship with our various organ systems, and can affect major aspects of our health,” Dr. Benjamin Mullish of Imperial College London said during a press briefing ahead of Digestive Diseases Week (DDW) 2021, where he will present the study.

“Additionally, there may be a more specific role for probiotics in the prevention or reduction of the incidence of upper-respiratory-tract infections, particularly in higher-risk adult populations,” said Dr. Mullish.

He and his colleagues analyzed detailed daily diaries completed by 220 adults who participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial investigating the impact of probiotics in overweight and obese adults.

As part of the trial, participants took a daily probiotic capsule containing 50 billion colony-forming units containing three strains of Lactobacilli and two strains of Bifidobacteria or a placebo capsule for six months.

As previously reported, at six months, significant between-group differences were identified in body weight (1.3 kg, P<0.0001) and BMI (0.045 kg/m2, P<0.0001), both favoring the probiotic group.

The diaries revealed that participants in the probiotic group had a 27% lower incidence of URTI symptoms compared with the placebo group (incidence rate ratio, 0.73; 95% confidence interval, 0.63 to 0.84).

The greatest impact of the probiotic on URTI symptoms was in older adults (aged 45 and older) and obese adults.

“It’s important to note we did not measure immune responses in participants, only respiratory-tract infections, and future randomized control trials in this field could help identify the mechanisms related to the observed reduction in respiratory-tract-infection symptoms and explore the possible impact of probiotics on the immune system,” Dr. Mullish told the briefing.

The study had no specific funding and the authors have no relevant disclosures.

SOURCE: Digestive Disease Week 2021, to be held virtually May 21-23, 2021.

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