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Probiotic supplementation for respiratory and gastrointestinal illness symptoms in healthy physically active individuals.

  • 2014-08
  • Clinical Nutrition 33(4)
    • N. West
    • P. Horn
    • D. Pyne
    • V. Gebski
    • S. Lahtinen
    • P. Fricker
    • A. Cripps


Background & aims: To examine the effect of supplementation with probiotics on respiratory and gastrointestinal illness in healthy active men and women.

Methods: A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial was conducted. Four hundred and sixty five participants (241 males; age 35 ± 12 y (mean ± SD) and 224 females; age 36 ± 12 y) were assigned to one of three groups: Group 1 - Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis Bl-04 (Bl-04) 2.0 × 10(9)colony forming units per day, CFU per day, Group 2 - Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis Bi-07 (NCFM & Bi-07) 5 × 10(9) CFU each per day) or Group 3 - placebo mixed in a drink.

Results: The risk of an upper respiratory illness episode was significantly lower in the Bl-04 group (hazard ratio 0.73; 95% confidence interval 0.55-0.95; P = 0.022) compared to placebo. There was no significant difference in illness risk between the NCFM & Bi-07 group (hazard ratio 0.81; 0.62-1.08; P = 0.15) and the placebo group. There was a 0.7 and 0.9 month delay in the median time to an illness episode in the Bl-04 and NCFM & Bi-07 groups respectively compared to placebo (placebo 2.5 months; Bl-04 3.2 months; NCFM & Bi-07 3.4 months). There were insufficient GI illness episodes for analysis. The NCFM & Bi-07 group but not the Bl-04 group undertook significantly more physical activity (8.5%; 6.7%-10%; P < 0.003) than the placebo group.

Conclusion: The probiotic Bl-04 appears to be a useful nutritional supplement in reducing the risk of URTI in healthy physically-active adults.

Trial registration: Australia New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: Number ACTRN12611000130965.

Keywords: Bifidobacterium animalis Subsp. lactis Bi-07; Bifidobacterium animalis Subsp. lactis Bl-04; Healthy adults; Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM; Probiotics; Respiratory illness.

Research Insights

SupplementHealth OutcomeEffect TypeEffect Size
Bifidobacterium lactis BI-04Reduced Risk of Upper Respiratory Tract InfectionsBeneficial
Bifidobacterium lactis Bl-04Delayed Onset of Illness EpisodeBeneficial
Bifidobacterium lactis Bl-04Reduced Risk of Upper Respiratory Tract InfectionsBeneficial
Bifidobacterium lactis BL818Reduced Incidence of Upper Respiratory Tract InfectionsBeneficial
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