Taking Probiotics for at least thirty days before running a marathon may help to protect runners from upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) following a race, says a new small study from Brazil. 
This new study from the University of Sao Paulo, included 14 healthy male marathon runners who were randomly assigned to take a probiotic combination or placebo for 30 days prior to a marathon. Researchers measured the plasma cytokines, salivary parameters, glucose and glutamine before the study, 24 hours before the race, immediately after the race and again, one hour after the race.
Researchers noticed that for a week after a race, 100% of the runners in a placebo group had one lung respiratory health symptom compared to only 71% in the probiotic group.
What This Probiotic Study Shows
The results of the study showed that taking a multi-strain probiotic supplement containing 1 billion each of CFU Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactococcus and Bifidobacterium helped to significantly decrease the incidence and severity in the upper respiratory tracts of athletes taking part in a marathon race.
When compared to the placebo, URTI symptoms were considered 29% lower in the runners taking the probiotic supplement. Researchers also found differences between the groups when it comes to various plasma cytokines (these play a central role in controlling the growth and activity of immune system cells and blood cells), both one day before and one day after the race.
Why Athletes Should Consider Probiotics For Good Lung Health
Training for and running marathons can be physically stressful on the body’s immune system. Running a marathon can reduce the immune system’s natural killer cells, neutrophils, T and B cells. Multiple studies also show that people training for marathons or ultra-marathons are more at risk of upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs), for example. [2, 3]
By taking a probiotic supplement to ensure you have enough beneficial gut bacteria, this can help to promote your body’s healthy immune response.
Research estimates that approximately 70% of the immune system is located in the gut and that supplementing with probiotics can help to promote a healthy immune response. In athletes, taking these specific probiotic strains can reduce the number of upper respiratory tract infections.
Specific strains of probiotics have also been highlighted for having human clinical data that supports their reduction in severity or duration of URTIs for endurance athletes. This includes different bacteria including Bifidobacterium animalis ssp, lactis-Bl-04, Limosilactobacilus fermentum, Lactobacillus casei Shirota and Lactobacillus helveticus Lafti L10. 
The above findings demonstrate that using a probiotic supplement can improve immune health in athletes, reducing the severity or duration of respiratory infections that may result from exercise sessions.
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