SALT LAKE CITY Theres good news this winter for better health in the workplace, as a new study published in Environmental Health finds that workers who supplement their diet with the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri are 2.5 times less likely to be absent from work due to common illnesses, such as colds and gastroenteritis, than workers who do not.
The study examined the ability of Lactobacillus reuteri, commonly known as Reuteri, to improve workplace healthiness by reducing short-term sick leave caused by upper respiratory infections (e.g., common colds) or gastrointestinal complaints. A group of 181 adult factory workers (128 day workers and 53 shift workers) participated in the study and were given Reuteri or placebo in a random, double-blind fashion for 80 days. By the end of the study, 23 out of 87 workers (26.4 percent) taking placebo had reported sick day absences due to the defined causes, compared to only 10 of the 94 workers (10.6 percent) given Reuteri. The effect of the probiotic was most significant in shift workers, as none of the 26 shift workers given Reuteri had reported sick leave, compared to 9 out of 27 shift workers (33.3 percent) in the placebo group.
"Results of this study suggest that probiotic therapy with Lactobacillus
reuteri may be an effective way to improve health in the workplace," observes Russell Greenfield, MD, medical director of Carolinas Integrative Health in Charlotte, N.C. "This is especially important for parents and employers during the upcoming winter season."
Results of this study are similar to findings published earlier this year in the journal Pediatrics in which infants in day-care centers given Reuteri had significantly fewer absences, as well as a lower frequency of fever episodes and gastrointestinal disruptions.
"Probiotic therapy is clearly gaining acceptance, even among mainstream doctors. But not all probiotic organisms are equally effective," comments Greenfield. "While numerous organisms have been promoted as probiotics, beneficial effects are strain specific. Physicians know the best way to ensure both safety and effectiveness is to follow the data. In other words, use the organism and product employed in research studies showing benefit. The available data on Reuteri make it a sound therapeutic choice."
Reuteri is a friendly species of lactobacillus bacteria with unique benefits for human health, including clinically observed stimulation of the immune system. It is naturally occurring in the microflora of the human digestive tract, as well as in breast milk; and is one of the early defenses a nursing mother passes to her child.
The use of Lactobacillus reuteri in foods, dietary supplements and medicinal applications is patented by BioGaia Biologics AB of Sweden (U.S. patent number 5,849,289). Reuteri is available in select dietary supplement and food products sold in health and nutrition stores throughout the U.S. and Canada.
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