Studies suggest that probiotics, or strains of beneficial bacteria, may improve immune function. In one recent study published in the journal Pediatrics, 326 children were divided into three groups -- the children drank milk either with one probiotic strain, two probiotic strains or a placebo. Each group contained about 100 children.
Sixty-six children drinking plain milk caught fevers, while 31 children in the one-probiotic group and 18 children in the two-probiotic group fell ill. Other studies have demonstrated that probiotics decrease the incidence of colds and winter illnesses, and result in fewer days of missed work or daycare.
But not all probiotics are created equal. Different strains have different strengths -- one might prove effective against diarrhea, while another works best against stomach upset.To boost their immune systems, Americans should ingest Lactobacillus (especially Lactobacillus rhamnosus) or Bifidobacterium probiotics.
While there are several ways to take probiotics, eating yogurt is easy, tasty and effective. Acids in the stomach can destroy probiotics before they reach your intestines, where they are needed to impart health benefits. Dairy buffers stomach acid, ensuring that more probiotics make it into your system. Plus, dairy products provide important nutrients, like calcium and protein.
Look for a yogurt containing several strains of probiotics, such as Stonyfield organic yogurt. Each serving contains six probiotic strains shown to support immune systems, promote gut health and help the body achieve balance. One cup gives you over 1 billion probiotics, including those cold-preventing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains.
You cannot overdose on probiotics, and they are safe for babies. So stop swallowing Vitamin C tablets in favor of one cup of yogurt per day. Preventing the common cold has never been tastier.
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