Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts found in foods such as yoghurt and other dairy products. They have long been recognised as being good for your health, especially your digestive system. Now, a review published in the International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology suggests that probiotics could also help to reduce symptoms of hayfever and seasonal allergies. However, more research needs to be done.
Review findings mostly positive
Scientists from Vanderbilt University Medical Centre analysed 23 studies involving almost 2000 participants. The quality of the research was mixed, however two of the studies were what scientists call “randomized controlled trials,” a method highly valued in the scientific world.
Out of the 23 studies, 17 revealed that participants who had seasonal allergies who ate probiotics felt some relief in at least one area, such as improved quality of life or reduced symptoms. However, six studies revealed that probiotics didn’t reduce the effects of hayfever.
Good news for allergy sufferers
Overall, findings of this report show that probiotics have some potential to fight hayfever and seasonal allergies. This is great new for those who, in increasing numbers, experience allergy symptoms. This upward trend has been noticed in the Western world, especially among children. One possible explanation is that cleaner living conditions in developed countries means that people do not build up a tolerance to potential allergens. As a result, when they do encounter them, their immune system overreacts and an allergy develops.
Too early to recommend
Because the studies covered by the review involved a variety of research groups, using a range of different types of probiotics, the benefits of probiotics cannot be easily applied to the general population. Therefore, before probiotics can be recommended as a way to treat allergies, further research will need to be done. However, if you are an allergy sufferer you may want to consider increasing the amount of probiotics in your diet. There’s no guarantee it will make a difference to your allergy symptoms, but your gut will love you for it.
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Written by: Adam May