Current Sports Medicine Reports

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 269–273 | Cite as

Probiotics and athletic performance: A systematic review

  • Andrew W. NicholsEmail author


Probiotic bacteria are defined as live food ingredients that are beneficial to the health of the host. Probiotics occur naturally in fermented food products such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, cabbage kimchee, and soybean-based miso and natto. Numerous health benefits have been attributed to probiotics, including effects on gastrointestinal tract function and diseases, immune function, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and allergic conditions. A systematic review of the medical literature failed to identify any studies that directly investigated the potential ergogenic effects of probiotics on athletic performance. Two published articles suggest that probiotics may enhance the immune responses of fatigued athletes. In summary, although scientific evidence for an ergogenic effect of probiotics is lacking, probiotics may provide athletes with secondary health benefits that could positively affect athletic performance through enhanced recovery from fatigue, improved immune function, and maintenance of healthy gastrointestinal tract function.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References and Recommended Reading

  1. 1.
    Salminen S, Bouley C, Boutron-Ruault MC, et al.: Functional food science and gastrointestinal physiology and function. Br J Nutr 1998, 80(Suppl):S141–S171.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Lilly DM, Stillwell RH: Probiotics: growth promoting factors produced by microorganisms. Science 1965, 147:747–748.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Stanton C, Gardiner G, Meehan H, et al.: Market potential for probiotics. Am J Clin Nutr 2001, 73(Suppl):476S–483S.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Santosa S, Farnworth E, Jones P: Probiotics and their potential health claims. Nutr Rev 2006, 64:265–274.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Kopp-Hoolihan L: Prophylactic and therapeutic uses of probiotics: a review. J Amer Dietetic Assoc 2001, 101:229–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Gibson GR, Roberfroid MB: dietary modulation of the human colonic microflora: introducing the concept of prebiotics. J Nutri 1995, 125:1401–1412.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Cummings JH, Robberfroid MB: A new look at dietary carbohydrate: chemistry, physiology and health. Eur J Clin Nutr 1997, 51:417–442.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Roberfroid MB: Prebiotics and probiotics: are they functional foods? Am J Clin Nutr 2000, 71(Suppl):1682S–1687S.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Naidu AS, Bidlack WR, Clemens RA: Probiotic spectra of lactic acid bacteria (LAB). Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 1999, 39:1–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Collins MD, Gibson GR: Probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics: approaches to modulating the microbial ecology of the gut. Am J Clin Nutr 1999, 69(Suppl):1052S–1057S.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Mombelli AK, Gismondo MR: The use of probiotics in medical practice. Int J Antimicrob Agents 2000, 16:531–536PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    de Roos NM, Katan MB: Effects of probiotic bacteria on diarrhea, lipid metabolism, and carcinogenesis: a review of papers published between 1988 and 1998. Am J Clin Nutr 2000, 71:405–411.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    DeVuyst L, Vandamme EJ: Antimicrobial potential of lactic acid bacteria. In Bacteriocins of Lactic Acid Bacteria. Edited by DeVuyst L, Vandamme EJ. Glasgow: Blackie Academic and Professional; 1994:91–142.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Cremonini F, Di Caro S, Nista EC, et al.: Meta-analysis: the effect of probiotic administration on antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Aliment Pharmacol ther 2002, 16:1461–1467.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Macfarlance S, Macfarlane GT: Regulation of short-chain fatty acid production. Proc Nutr Soc 2003, 62:67–72.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Ruiz-Palacios G, Tuz F, Arteaga M, et al.: Tolerance and fecal colonization with Lactobacillus reuterii in children fed a beverage with a mixture of Lactobacillus spp [abstract]. Pediatr Res 1996, 39:104.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Van Niel CW, Feudtner C, Garrison MM, Christakis DA: Lactobacillus therapy for acute infectious diarrhea in children: a meta-analysis. Pediatrics 2002, 109:678–684.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hilton E, Kolawkowski P, Singer C, Smith M: Efficacy of Lactobacillus GG as a diarrheal preventive in travelers. J Travel Med 1997, 4:41–43.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Kollaritsch H, Holst H, Grobara P, Wiedermann G: Prevention of travelers’ diarrhea with Saccharomyces boulardii, results of a placebo controlled double-blind study. Fortschr Med 1993, 111:152–156.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Shah N: Effectiveness of dairy products in alleviation of lactose intolerance. Food Aust 1993, 45:268–271.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Simenhoff ML, Dunn SR, Zollner GP, et al.: Biomodulation of the toxic and nutritional effects of small bowel bacterial overgrowth in end-stage kidney disease using freeze-dried Lactobacillus acidophilus. Miner Electrolyte Metab 1996, 22:92–96.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Goldin BR, Gorbach SL: Effect of Lactobacillus acidophilus dietary supplements on 1,2-dimethylhydrazine dihydrochloride-induced intestinal cancer in rats. J Natl Cancer Inst 1980, 64:263–265.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Goldin BR, Gorbach SL: Alterations of the intestinal microflora by diet, oral antibiotics, and Lactobacillus: decreased production of free amines from aromatic nitro compounds, azo dyes, and glucoronides. J Natl Cancer Inst 1984, 73:689–695.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Sanders ME, Klaenhammer TR: The scientific basis of Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM functionality as a probiotic. J Dairy Sci 2001, 84:319–331.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Wagner RD, Pierson C, Warner T, et al.: Biotherapeutic effects of probiotic bacteria on candidiasis on immunodeficient mice. Infect Immunol 1997, 65:4165–4172.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Gilliland SE, Nelson CR, Maxwell C: Assimilation of cholesterol by Lactobacillus acidophilus. Appl Environ Microbiol 1985, 33:1289–1292.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Gilliland SE, Walker DK: Factors to consider when selecting a culture of Lactobacillus a cidophilus as a dietary adjunct to produce a hypocholesterolemic effect in humans. J Dairy Sci 1990, 73:905–911.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Taylor GRJ, Williams CM: Effects of probiotics and prebiotics on blood lipids. Br J Nutr 1998, 80(Suppl 1):S225–S230.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Reid G: In vitro analysis of a dairy strain of Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM? as a possible probiotic for the urogenital tract. Int Dairy J 2000, 10:415–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    French S. Probiotics: A viable market? Virgo Publishing. http:/ Accessed March 9, 2007.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Probiotic shots gaining popularity. Virgo Publishing. Available at Accessed May 29, 2007.
  32. 32.
    Clancy RL, Gleeson M, Cox A, et al.: Reversalin fatigued athletes of a defect in interferon γ secretion after administration of Lactobacillus acidophilus. Br J Sports Med 2006, 40:351–354.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Pujol P, Huguet J, Drobnic F, et al.: the effects of fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei on the immune response to exercise. Sports Med Training Rehabil 2000, 9:209–223.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Current Medicine Group LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Sports Medicine, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, John A. Burns School of MedicineUniversity of Hawai’i at ManoaHonoluluUSA

Personalised recommendations