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Probiotics — also known as beneficial bacteria — can help strengthen our immune system and compete with harmful bacteria. But some products have gotten in hot water for overstating the health benefits associated with consuming these functional foods.
Now a new study in the March issue of Postgraduate Medicine suggests that a strain of probiotic bacteria, GanedenBC30 (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, PTA-6086), increases the body’s immune response to viruses that cause common viral respiratory tract infections such as colds and flu.
Helping the Already Healthy
While many health professionals believe that probiotics can help people who have specific health conditions, there has been controversy surrounding the benefits of probiotics in healthy people. The new study supports the idea that probiotics can indeed benefit those who are healthy.
The study measured the changes in blood TNF-alpha levels upon exposure to adenovirus and influenza A in 10 healthy adults prior to and following a 30-day regimen of GanedenBC30, which is marketed as a dietary supplement called Sustenex and is also available in a variety of fortified packaged foods. Results showed a 250 percent increase in TNF-alpha levels with adenovirus and a 1709 percent increase in TNF-alpha levels with influenza A after subjects took the probiotics for a period of 30 days. Increased production of TNF-alpha in response to viral exposure indicates a heightened immunological effect.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 5 percent to 20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu each year, and more than 200,000 are hospitalized for flu-related complications every year. About 36,000 Americans die on average per year from the complications of flu, says the CDC. It is also estimated that one billion colds occur annually in the United States.
“These results demonstrate the ability of GanedenBC30 to boost the immune system of healthy adults against viruses that cause some of the most common human illnesses,” said Mira Baron, M.D., author of the study. “The study helps support the long-suspected belief about the beneficial effects of GanedenBC30 on the immune system and adds to the emerging body of evidence that probiotics can benefit healthy people as well as those with specific health issues.”
According to Ganeden Biotech, GanedenBC30 is the trademarked brand name of the patented bacteria strain Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086. It is a Gram-positive spore-forming bacterium that, once germinated, produces L+ lactic acid, supporting good bacteria in the gut, displacing non-beneficial bacteria. A high-survivability probiotic, or good bacteria, GanedenBC30 has many inherent physical properties that make it superior to other traditional probiotic organisms such as lactobacillus, acidophilus and bifidobacteria.