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24
MAR

For the Pros, Probiotics

Filed Under: Supplements at 4:53 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Olympic Torch

 When our nation’s greatest athletes travel to Beijing for the 2008 Olympics, they’ll be taking with them food from the United States in an attempt to protect their health.  China’s offerings, known to be laden with steroids and insecticides, don’t warrant the reassurance the Olympians need that they’ll be able to compete and achieve their goals of gold. It’s a wise move, but it’s not the only one they should be taking. Right now, as they train, these star athletes need to be aware of what goes into their body as well. They should consume a diet that is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and they should, according to recent research, be taking probiotics.

A study of 20 top-level endurance runners found that probiotic supplements significantly lessened the amount and length of infections.  The athletes, all in the midst of their intensive winter-training program, reported 72 ill days when ingesting dummy pills but only 30 when ingesting probiotics. It seems that the supplements boosted the immune system to the point that respiratory infections were weakened and the accompanying symptoms were banished. This finding could, for the gold-medal hopefuls, allow trainees to get in more hours of practice, maximize their skill and ultimately prepare for the games. And for you, the Olympic spectator, they could have similar effects.

The findings are aimed at top athletes, because the researchers were looking for ways to maximize the health of pros preparing for major events, a task that often leaves the immune system vulnerable to infection. But that doesn’t mean probiotics won’t work for you. They will. They’ll enter your body and immediately start working their magic. Before you know it, your immune system will be healthier. By the time the Olympic Games roll around, you’ll be in tip-top shape, ready for several hours of hard-core . . . sitting?

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