Probiotics may have benefits for the human immune system and health

Active lifestyle and immune health
6 Min read

High-quality studies suggest that the Lactobacillus rhamnosus, LGG®, Lactobacillus paracasei, L. CASEI 431®, and Bifidobacterium, BB-12® strains (hereafter referred to by use of the trademarks LGG®, L. CASEI 431® and BB-12®) may support the immune system, and are associated with fewer instances of respiratory tract discomfort in children and adults.1, 2, 3, 4, 5 

Respiratory tract discomfort

Respiratory tract discomfort is common. On average, 33 million Americans experience respiratory tract discomfort each year6 which can place a large burden on families and societies due to the costs associated with visiting health care professionals, health care interventions, and loss of workplace productivity.
Supplementing with probiotics may be one approach to support immune health, and thus the overall human health. Numerous well-designed studies suggest that certain probiotics may play a key role in supporting a healthy immune system.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10 


The immune system is critical for health and supports against respiratory tract discomfort.

The immune system may be positively influenced by probiotics

The L. CASEI 431®, BB-12®, and LGG® strains have all been investigated in high-quality scientific studies. In children and adults, supplementing with these strains has been associated with a positive influence on the immune system and less respiratory tract discomfort.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10

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But how do we know how well the immune system is working? 

Several scientific studies have investigated the impact of probiotic consumption on immune health. One way to investigate how well the immune system is working is by measuring how the immune system reacts when it meets an immune challenge. In healthy people, the body will react by producing specific proteins that work against that particular challenge, supporting the human health. These proteins are called antibodies and how many of these specific antibodies the body produces in response to the challenge is how we determine how well the immune system is working. The more antibodies the body produces in response to an immune challenge, the better the immune system is thought to be working. 
Active seniors immune health and probiotics

Supplementing with LGG® may be associated with less respiratory tract discomfort

A study of healthy adults investigated how supplementing with the LGG® probiotic strain affected the number of antibodies the body produced when confronted with an immune challenge.9 Taking the LGG® probiotic strain was associated with 29% more participants producing the number of specific antibodies required to counter that specific immune challenge, compared to the placebo group. This suggests that the LGG® strain may aid the immune system by increasing the number of antibodies the body makes to support health.  
In another study, children who consumed the LGG® probiotic strain for three months had significantly less respiratory tract discomfort.1 The length of time that children felt unwell was also reduced, and they had significantly fewer days away from daycare due to being unwell, compared to the placebo group.1

Studies suggest that BB-12® may support the immune system

Another high-quality study investigated the effect of consuming the BB-12® probiotic strain for two weeks before an immune challenge, and for four weeks after.2 The group who supplemented with the BB-12® strain developed significantly more of the antibodies required to support the immune system against that specific challenge, compared to the placebo group.2
When consumed together, the LGG® and BB-12® strains have been shown to be beneficial for health.5 In a 12-week study, college students who were given the LGG® and BB-12® strains had 33% fewer days with respiratory tract discomfort and felt significantly less unwell than those who received placebo.5

Antibodies are proteins that help support the human health.

L. CASEI 431® might support health 

Several studies have suggested that the L. CASEI 431® probiotic strain support the function of the immune system. Three high-quality studies gave the L. CASEI 431® probiotic strain to healthy adults prior to an immune challenge. In all three studies, the group supplemented with the L. CASEI 431® probiotic strain had an increase in the specific antibodies associated with supporting health against that particular immune challenge, compared to the placebo group.2, 3, 4 
In a large study, 1104 volunteers received the L. CASEI 431® strain or placebo for 42 days. Participants who received the L. CASEI 431® probiotic strain experienced respiratory tract discomfort for shorter periods of time, compared to placebo.8

When the immune system works well, people may experience better health and less respiratory tract discomfort.

The LGG®, L. CASEI 431® and BB-12® probiotic strains may support the immune system

High-quality scientific studies have associated the LGG®, L. CASEI®, and BB-12® probiotic strains with supporting the way the immune system responds when it’s confronted with an immune challenge that could affect people's health. Additionally, scientific studies show that supplementing with these specific probiotic strains is associated with fewer and shorter episodes of respiratory tract discomfort.

Read what to look for when choosing a probiotic.

L. CASEI®, LGG® and BB-12® are registered trademarks of Chr. Hansen A/S. 

The article is provided for informational purposes regarding probiotics and is not meant to suggest that any substance referenced in the article is intended to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent any disease.


References Open Close

  1. Hojsak I, et al. Clin Nutr. 2010;29(3):312-6. (PubMed)
  2. Rizzardini G, et al. Br J Nutr. 2012;107(6):876-84. (PubMed)
  3. Trachootham D, et al. J Funct Foods. 2017;33:1-10. (Source)
  4. de Vrese M, et al. Eur J Nutr. 2005;44(7):406-13. (PubMed)
  5. Smith TJ, et al. The British journal of nutrition. 2013;109(11):1999-2007. (PubMed)
  6. Biggerstaff M, et al. Am J Epidemiol. 2018;187(5):1040-50. (PubMed)
  7. Putri WCWS, et al. Vaccine. 2018;36(27):3960-6. (PubMed)
  8. Jespersen L, et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;101(6):1188-96. (PubMed)
  9. Davidson LE, et al. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011;65(4):501-7. (PubMed)
  10. Hojsak I, et al. Pediatrics. 2010;125(5):e1171-7. (PubMed)
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