When Eli Wallach, Clint Eastwood, and Lee Van Cleef mixed it up in the spaghetti Western "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly," they had a lot of guts — in fact, the title could have been describing your guts. Lurking in your intestines are 10 trillion bacteria, some good, some bad and none good-looking! They comprise between 40 percent and 60 percent of what you excrete every day (if you're typical).
But don't let that bug you! These microscopic creatures make up your microbiome — the inner world of bugs that swirl through your digestive system in a sometimes-friendly, sometimes-adversarial tango to promote immune strength. They also protect you from infection, help you control your weight (or send it up, up, up), ease digestive woes and, yes, battle the common cold.
The 1 billion colds that afflict North Americans annually may have met their match in the gut-dwelling bacteria. Among those that may kick the cold, a dynamic duo Lactobacillus rhamnosus (also in yogurt) and Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis BB-12 (in fermented milks, infant formula, cheese and ice cream).
When college kids (notoriously susceptible to colds because of close living quarters, lack of sleep, and high levels of stress) were given a daily supplement packing 1 billion of each of those bacteria for 12 weeks, their colds were shortened by two days and they felt 34 percent better than kids who didn't get the gut-strengthening buggers. So, opt for probiotic supplements in hard-shelled capsules; they make it through your stomach acid, and bug that cold away!
© 2012 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.