As an athlete, you are more susceptible to illness and fatigue because of your intense training. 

Your hard work can actually lead to a depleted immune system, threatening to keep you out of the game. 

Probiotics can help boost your immune function and let you continue to perform at the highest level. Equally important is their role in the maintenance of gut health, ensuring your nutrition and other supplements are properly absorbed. There are multiple research studies on the effects of probiotics on athletes. Studies show that probiotics:

  • Help athletes experience fewer upper respiratory tract infections and gut complaints

  • Are vital in nutrient production and absorption

  • Aid in the production of B-vitamins

  • Enhance amino acid uptake in the gut

Every advantage you can get as an athlete will help you push past the competition. The most recent scientific research has focused on the total athlete, not just what affects you on race day. Probiotics work by improving the overall health and immunity of an athlete. This enables you to train harder and perform your best while optimizing recovery.


New to probiotics and wondering how they affect performance? Check out the Probiotics FAQ.


For a complete report on
probiotics and the athlete, read our ebook.


Probiotic research studies:

 

Effects of probiotics supplementation on gastrointestinal permeability, inflammation and exercise performance in the heat
Eur J Appl Physiol. 2014 Jan;114(1):93-103
Four weeks of supplementation with a multi-strain probiotic increased running time to fatigue in the heat.

 

Probiotics supplementation for athletes - Clinical and physiological effects
Eur J Sport Sci. 2014 Oct 23:1-10
Several studies conducted since 2006 examining probiotic supplementation in athletes or highly active individuals indicate modest clinical benefits in terms of reduced frequency, severity and/or duration of respiratory and gastrointestinal illness.

 

Probiotics, immunity and exercise: a review
Exerc Immunol Rev. 2009;15:107-26
The capacity for probiotics to modulate perturbations in immune function after exercise highlight their potential for use in individuals exposed to high degrees of physical and environmental stress.

 

Probiotics and athletic performance: a systematic review
Curr Sports Med Rep. 2007 Jul;6(4):269-73
Probiotics may provide athletes with secondary health benefits that could positively affect athletic performance through enhanced recovery from fatigue, improved immune function, and maintenance of healthy gastrointestinal tract function.

 

The probiotic Lactobacillus fermentum and mucosal immunity
Br J Sports Med published online March 29, 2010
Prophylactic administration of PCC was associated with a substantial reduction in the number of days and severity of respiratory illness in a cohort of highly trained distance runners.

 

Daily probiotic's (Lactobacillus casei Shirota) reduction of infection incidence in athletes
International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism. Feb2011, Vol. 21 Issue 1, p55-64
Regular ingestion of Lactobacillus casei shirota appears to be beneficial in reducing the frequency of URTI in an athletic cohort.

 

Lactobacillus fermentum (PCC (R)) supplementation and gastrointestinal and respiratory-tract illness symptoms: a randomised control trial in athletes
West et al. Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:30
L. fermentum may be a useful nutritional adjunct for healthy exercising males.

 

The effect of probiotics on respiratory infections and gastrointestinal symptoms during training in marathon runners
Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2007 Aug;17(4):352-63
LGG had no effect on the incidence of respiratory infections or GI-symptom episodes in marathon runners, but it seemed to shorten the duration of GI-symptom episodes.

 

Exercise, intestinal barrier dysfunction and probiotic supplementation.
Med Sport Sci. 2012;59:47-56
Probiotic supplements are an upcoming group of nutraceuticals that could offer positive effects on athlete's gut and entire health. Some results demonstrate promising benefits for probiotic use on the athlete's immune system. There is also evidence that probiotic supplementation can beneficially influence intestinal barrier integrity in acute diseases.

 

A new chance of preventing winter diseases by the administration of synbiotic formulations
J Clin Gastroenterol. 2008 Sep;42 Suppl 3 Pt 2:S224-33
These results demonstrate that a regular, long-term intake of various synbiotics may improve health by reducing the incidence and severity of respiratory diseases during the cold season.

 

Effectiveness of probiotics on the duration of illness in healthy children and adults who develop common acute respiratory infectious conditions: a systematic review and meta-analysis
British Journal of Nutrition / Volume 112 / Issue 01 / July 2014, pp 41-54
This systematic review provides evidence from a number of good-quality RCT that probiotics reduce the duration of illness in otherwise healthy children and adults.

 

Probiotic supplementation for respiratory and gastrointestinal illness symptoms in healthy physically active individuals
Clin Nutr. 2014 Aug;33(4):581-7
The probiotic Bl-04 appears to be a useful nutritional supplement in reducing the risk of URTI in healthy physically-active adults.

 

Physical activity, immunity and infection
21–24 October 2009, The 3rd International Immunonutrition Workshop, Platja D'Aro, Girona, Spain
Describes the role of physical activity on immune function.

 

Exercise, nutrition and immune function
Journal of Sports Sciences. Volume 22, Issue 1, 2004. pages 115-125
A review of exercise, nutrition and immune function.

 

Immunonutrition support for athletes
Nutr Rev. 2008 Jun;66(6):310-20
Results from these studies indicate that immunonutrition supplements have the potential to lessen the magnitude of exercise-induced perturbations in immune function and to reduce the risk of upper respiratory tract infections.

 

Probiotic immunomodulation in health and disease
J Nutr. 2000 Feb;130(2S Suppl):403S-409S
The application of probiotics has demonstrated trends with respect to altered aspects of immune response, the underlying mechanisms by which that occurs are unclear.

 

Nutritional modulation of exercise-induced immunodepression in athletes: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007 Apr;61(4):443-60
A review of nutrition and its influence on immunity in athletes.

 

Immune function and exercise: Position Statement - Part one
Exerc Immunol Rev. 2011;17:6-63
A review of immune function and exercise.

 

Maintaining immune health: Position Statement - Part two
Exerc Immunol Rev. 2011;17:64-103
A review of immune function and exercise.

 

The Use of Probiotics in Sports Nutrition: Immunity, Nutrient Absorption & More
Presentation by Dr. Ralf Jäger, CISSN, FISSN, MBA at Priobiota 2014

 

Effects of Gut Microbes on Nutrient Absorption and Energy Regulation
Nutr Clin Pract. Apr 2012; 27(2): 201–214
A review of the role of the gut microbiota in energy harvest and fat storage is explored, as well as differences in the microbiota in obesity and undernutrition.

 

Human Microbiome: FAQ
An in depth report on the human microbiome from the AAM.

 

Surface area of the digestive tract much smaller than previously thought
A Science Daily article on intestinal anatomy.

 

Probiotics, prebiotics, and the host microbiome: the science of translation
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 11 December 2013. Volume 1306, Reports Pages 1–17
A review of the influence of probiotics and prebiotics on the host microbiome.

 

NIH Human Microbiome Project defines normal bacterial makeup of the body
NIH article on genome sequencing creating the first reference data for microbes living with healthy adults.

 

Think Twice: How the Gut's "Second Brain" Influences Mood and Well-Being
Scientific America. February 12, 2010
Article address the Gut-Brain connection.

 

Beta-Glucans Improve Growth, Viability and Colonization of Probiotic Microorganisms
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2012, 13(5), 6026-6039
In this work we report that a 2-substituted-(1,3)-β-D-glucan of non-dairy bacterial origin has a prebiotic effect on three probiotic strains.

 

Baker's yeast beta-glucan supplement reduces upper respiratory symptoms and improves moods state instressed women
J Am Coll Nutr. 2012 Aug;31(4):295-300.
A study demonstrating that daily dietary supplementation with proprietary supplement containing beta-glucan reduces upper respiratory symptoms and improves mood state in stressed subjects, and thus it may be a useful approach for maintaining immune protection against daily stressors.

 

Influence of yeast-derived 1,3/1,6 glucopolysaccharide on circulating cytokines and chemokines with respect to upper respiratory tract infections
Nutrition. 2012 Jun;28(6):665-9.
A proprietary supplement containing beta-glucan may decrease the duration and severity of URTI.

 

Baker’s yeast b-glucan supplementation increases monocytes and cytokines post-exercise: implications for infection risk?
Br J Nutr. 2013 Feb 14;109(3):478-86
The key findings of the present study demonstrate that BG may have potential to alter immunity following a strenuous exercise session.

 

Beta 1,3/1,6 glucan decreases upper respiratory tract infection symptoms and improves psychological well-being in moderate to highly-stressed subjects
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2012, 13(5), 6026-6039
This report suggests that the beneficial properties of these microorganisms may be related to the biological activities of these biopolymers. In this work we report that a 2-substituted-(1,3)-β-D-glucan of non-dairy bacterial origin has a prebiotic effect on three probiotic strains.

 

Baker’s Yeast Beta Glucan Supplementation Increases Salivary IgA and Decreases Cold/Flu Symptomatic Days After Intense Exercise
National Strength and Conditioning Association Annual Meeting. Providence, RI. July 14, 2012
The combination of reduction in URTI symptoms (E1) and increased salivary IgA levels (E2) indicates that preventing a drop in salivary immunoglobulin may be one potential mechanism by which BG supplementation reduces cold/flu symptoms post exercise.

 

Effect of Beta 1, 3/1, 6 glucan on upper respiratory tract infection symptoms and mood state in marathon athletes
J Sports Sci Med. Dec 2009; 8(4): 509–515.
Beta-glucan may prevent URTI symptoms, and improve overall health and mood following a competitive marathon.