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

Clin Nutr. 2014 Aug;33(4):581-7. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2013.10.002. Epub 2013 Oct 10.


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.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bifidobacterium
  • Body Mass Index
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / therapy*
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • New Zealand
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage*
  • Young Adult

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12611000130965