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A to Z of nutritional supplements: dietary supplements, sports nutrition foods and ergogenic aids for health and performance—Part 31
  1. M Gleeson1,
  2. J C Siegler2,
  3. L M Burke3,
  4. S J Stear4,
  5. L M Castell5
  1. 1Sport and Exercise Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK
  2. 2Sport and Exercise Science, University of Western Sydney, Campbelltown, Australia
  3. 3Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Australia
  4. 4Performance Influencers Limited, London, UK
  5. 5Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to LM Castell, Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, Oxford OX2 6HG, UK; lindy.castell{at}gtc.ox.ac.uk

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Introductory remarks

This issue deals with the increasingly interesting topic of probiotics and also, slightly out of alphabetical order, with pycnogenol, a product usually associated with pine bark. Probiotics are food supplements containing live microorganisms. They modify intestinal microbiota in a way that enables beneficial bacteria to increase. An additional benefit is that probiotics in sufficient quantities also tend to decrease those species of bacteria which are considered harmful. It is suggested that this situation produces many potential benefits for the health and functioning of the digestive system, and also has a beneficial effect on immune function. In the short review below, the effects of probiotics and their efficacy in reducing infection incidence (or symptom severity/duration) in athletes are summarised. Pycnogenol supplementation has previously been considered to have a range of beneficial effects, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Probiotics

M Gleeson

Probiotics are food supplements that contain live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts can confer a health benefit on the host.1 There is now a reasonable body of evidence that regular consumption of probiotic strains that are proven to survive gut transit can modify the population of the gut-dwelling bacteria (microbiota) and influence immune function2,,5 though it should be noted that such effects are dose- and strain-dependent. Probiotics modify the intestinal microbiota such that the numbers of beneficial bacteria increase and usually numbers of species considered harmful are decreased. Such changes have been associated with a range of potential benefits to the health and functioning …

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