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Maintain immunity with probiotics and train hard all winter!
Winter is coming and with it also comes flu and cold season. We all know that the incidence of upper respiratory-tract infections increase in the wintertime. This can be a real problem for athletes who spend a lot of time training indoors being constantly exposed to other people's germs. After all, who wants to be sick-especially while preparing for competition?  Well, according to recent research, you can get protection from the common cold and get a leg up on your competitors this winter!

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In a large scaled (84 subjects) placebo controlled study, scientists from the UK examined the effects of a daily probiotic supplement (Lactobacillus casei Shirota) during 4 months of winter endurance training on incidences of upper respiratory-tract infections and markers of immunity. Blood and saliva samples were taken at baseline (before receiving placebo or probiotics) and after 8 and 16 weeks and subjects were instructed to keep weekly records of training and sickness. The researchers reported that those who received the placebo had 36% more episodes of 1 or more weeks of upper respiratory-tract infection symptoms than those who took probiotics. Furthermore, more subjects in the placebo group caught colds than those in the probiotic group. The researchers attributed these results to greater immunity in those who received probiotics because after 8 and 16 weeks supplementation they had higher immunoglobulin A levels in their saliva than the placebo group. 

Gleeson M, Bishop NC, Oliveira M, Tauler P. Daily probiotic's (Lactobacillus casei Shirota) reduction of infection incidence in athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2011 Feb;21(1):55-64.