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Probiotic Supplementation Reduces Incidence of Infection in Professional Rugby Players

The attenuation of the number and severity of infections is of importance to athletes. Probiotics use has increased over recent years with beneficial effects believed to include improvements in immune function. Recent research has focused on their effectiveness for reducing the number, duration and severity of infections amongst endurance athletes. At present no research has been undertaken with team sport athletes.

Scientist from University of Otago conducted a randomised controlled trial aimed to determine the effectiveness of probiotics on the number, duration and severity of infections amongst elite union rugby players. Thirty elite rugby union players were allocated randomly to receive either a daily probiotics supplement (containing lactobacillus gasseri, Bifidobacterium bifidium and B. Longum) or a placebo for four weeks. Participants completed a daily diary to identify and rate the severity of any infectious symptoms.

During the probiotic treatment 14/30 participants never experienced a single upper respiratory tract illness (URTI) or gastrointestinal (GI) episode, compared to 6/30 on the placebo supplementation. The duration of infection was also significantly reduced in probiotic supplement group (3.4 days) compared to the placebo group (5.8 days). There was no significant difference in the severity of the symptoms between the two treatment groups.

These results provide evidence for the beneficial effects of daily probiotic supplementation in professional rugby union players who undertake intensive training and competition.

Source:
Brylee A Haywood et al. J Science and Medicine in Sport July 2014; Vol. 17(4):356–360

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