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Can probiotics help fight a cold?

There's no proof that probiotics can help fight a cold, even though in theory it makes sense. The idea is that these gut-friendly bacteria can strengthen the immune system. Whether they help fend off a cold or not, it can't hurt to add probiotics to your diet. You can get them from supplements and foods like yogurt.
Yep, certain live and active bacterial cultures, known as "good" bacteria, or probiotics, may be a secret weapon in cold prevention. People in a study who took a twice-a-day supplement of one particular probiotic strain, Lactobacillus fermentum, had less than half the number of sick days as the people who did not supplement. Probiotics may have benefits for people with allergies, too.

Where to Get Yours: Because to date there's been little study of L. fermentum, don't expect to find store shelves lined with products containing this particular probiotic strain. But more and more research is showing that probiotics in general are immune-system enhancers. You can find probiotics in yogurt, in some fermented milk or juice products, and in miso, tempeh, and other fermented grain or soybean products, as well as in supplements. Just one caveat to keep in mind: It may not always be clear which strain you are getting, or how much. Current food-manufacturer labeling leaves a little to be desired on this front.

And here are a few more ways to help give sniffles and sneezes the cold shoulder:
  • Be positive. Being a Little Miss Sunshine helps keep you healthy.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Start moving. Staying active is good for your immune system.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.