In a new study from Imperial College London, researchers found that daily probiotic use was linked to fewer upper respiratory symptoms in overweight and older people.
The finding suggests a potential role for probiotics in preventing respiratory infections.
In the study, the team re-analyzed detailed daily diaries of 220 patients who participated in an earlier study on probiotics and weight loss.
They reviewed the entries for common symptoms of upper respiratory infection, including cough, sore throat and wheezing.
The researchers found that participants who took probiotics during the six-month study had a 27% lower overall incidence of upper respiratory tract symptoms compared to the placebo group.
The effect was largest among participants who were aged 45 years or older, as well as those with obesity.
People with obesity are at higher risk for respiratory infections.
Previous research has shown that probiotics reduce upper respiratory infections in healthy adults and children, but little data exists on this vulnerable population of older, overweight and people with obesity.
These findings add to growing interest in the gut-lung axis—how the gut and the lungs communicate with each other.
The team says it’s not just the gut sending out signals that affect how the lungs work. It works in both directions. It adds to the story that changes in the gut microbiome can affect large aspects of our health.
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The study was presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW) 2021. One author of the study is Benjamin Mullish, MD.
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