(NaturalNews) The August, 2009 issue of the journal Pediatrics contains a study analyzing and confirming the positive effects of probiotics in maintaining immunity and preventing disease, particularly in children who experienced a significant decrease in cold and influenza incidences following sustained probiotic supplementation. The study also confirmed that probiotic supplementation decreased the length and severity of illness symptoms in those that did get sick, vindicating what has been known in the natural health community for years concerning probiotics.
The double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted with 326 children between the ages of three and five separated into three groups that received one of three milk solutions twice a day for six months. The first group received milk containing the probiotic strain Lactobacillus acidophilus, the second group received milk containing L acidophilus as well as Bifidobacterium animalis, and the third group received plain milk with a placebo.
The results of the single and combination probiotic groups, respectively, were reductions in fever incidence by 53% and 72.7%, coughing incidence by 41.4% and 62.1%, and rhinorrhea incidence by 28.2% and 58.8%, relative to placebo. Duration of fever, coughing, and rhinorrhea were also reduced by 32% and 48%, respectively. Consequently, there were crucial reductions in both the use of antibiotics in the single and combination probiotic groups equaling 68.4% and 84.2% as well as in truancy days from group child care equaling 31.8% and 27.7%, respectively.
Overall, the study results definitively prove the efficacy of probiotic supplementation in maintaining health and preventing disease. Since about 70% of a person's immune system resides in the glands, mucosa, and mucosa-associated lymphoid system of the gastrointestinal tract, it is vital that the intestinal flora residing in the tract maintain optimal levels and function. The colonic bacteria that interact with the gastrointestinal lymphatic and immune tissue are what regulate the systemic immune system and inhibit the bacterial enzymes responsible for synthesizing colonic carcinogens. In other words, probiotics populate the gut and maintain a vibrant immune system by fending off foreign invaders from taking over while simultaneously assimilating vital nutrients from food and supplements.
While the body is naturally inhabited by healthy probiotics, inadequate diet, environmental toxins, antibiotics, and other foreign invaders can disrupt and even destroy intestinal flora leading to stomach illness, digestive problems, and other serious maladies such as Crohn's disease or colon cancer. Thus, probiotic supplementation is a necessary component to any healthy lifestyle, whether it be through eating cultured and fermented foods like raw milk, kefir, yogurt, miso or kombucha, or through taking probiotic powder, liquid or capsule supplements.
Some of the popular probiotic strains commonly present in cultured foods and supplements include L rhamnosus, L casei, B Bifidum, B longum, B lactis, L paracasei, L plantarum, L salivarius, L bulgarious, L sporogenes, as well as L acidophilus and B animalis which were the strains used in the study.
While there is still much to learn concerning probiotics, it is certain that they are gaining popularity in the mainstream for their essential health-maintaining properties.