While considered mostly a nuisance, the common cold’s impact is widespread, when you factor in the health care costs and lost wages to sick days. It is estimated that 1 billion colds occur annually. Adults on average get two to three a year, while kids can get up to 6, and the elderly usually only one.
Many consider OTC products to manage symptoms, others use more natural remedies like vitamin C, zinc, and Echinacea. While these are not wrong, studies are emerging that show promise with probiotics.
Probiotics are the good bacteria that keep our gut healthy. Inside each of us is about 100 trillion bacteria (10X more cells), most of which reside in the intestinal tract. A good 70% of our immune system lies within in our digestive tract. Think of probiotics are our own personal army, which aids in the nourishment and defense of our whole body. When you have an abundance of probiotic bacteria in your gut, it’s harder for the pathogenic bacteria that comes with a cold or flu, to take hold. Probiotics also help the body to produce certain vitamins that help keep us strong. When it comes to the cold virus they surround and neutralize the virus and form a barrier along the intestinal lining to keep the virus from passing into the bloodstream. If does enter into the bloodstream, the probiotics can help to activate the immune response and the production of anti-bodies and leukocytes.
A recent meta-analysis was done on the effects of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains. It was found that those who took the probiotic supplementation experienced a shorter duration of cold symptoms (> 2 days), 34% less severe symptoms and a higher quality of life that resulted in sick days.
Supplementing with a probiotic containing at least 15 billion cultures daily is the easiest way to build up your good bacteria and keep your immune system strong all year long.
*Another rather unknown, but emerging key player in our immune system is Beta Glucans, which is found in baker’s yeast, mushrooms and oats. A 2012 study found that cold symptoms were reduced by 25% at a daily dose of 900mg. It is thought to stimulate white blood cells and keeps the immune system ‘activated’.
These are easy additions to your daily routine, other tips include:
- Regular hand washing
- 7-8 hours of sleep
- Stay hydrated
- Eat a diet loaded with fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and lean meats. This will provide the necessary vitamins, minerals, and fiber your body needs.
- Supplement with a quality multi-vitamin, especially if the above is difficult.
- Reduce and manage stress
Don’t let another cold get you down, start taking a probiotic today.