I am often asked what can be taken to boost the immune system. While the go-to standard has been vitamin C and zinc, my favorite is the addition of probiotics. Probiotics are most known to support gastrointestinal function, but we cannot forget that the majority of our immune system actually lies within the gut.
Having a healthy population of these good bacteria, keeps the pathogens that cause infection and other diseases in check. They work to increase the production of specific immune cells (lymphocytes and NK cells), and boost the ability of white blood cells to destroy cold and flu viruses.
The evidence is rather strong that probiotics reduce both the duration and severtity of colds and flu, especially in children. There have been several studies looking at the effectiveness of a single strain probiotic (Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM) and combination probiotics including several Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains. Results showed a 53% and 73% reduction in fever, contributing to 32% and 28% fewer missed days respectively.
For maximum benefit, I suggest daily supplementation of a combination probiotic for up to 3 months. We carry various probiotics, in either capsule, drop, or powder form; stop in for a recommendation. Best wishes for a healthy fall and winter.
2) Leyer, G. J., Li, S., Mubasher, M. E., Reifer, C., & Ouwehand, A. C. (2009). Probiotic Effects on Cold and Influenza-Like Symptom Incidence and Duration in Children. Pediatrics, 124(2). doi:10.1542/peds.2008-2666