Can Your Gut Bacteria Fight Off the Common Cold? Probiotics Tips

7 minute read

Bacteria are good for you. This may not be something you hear every day, but you should. While it is true that bacteria can cause you to get sick, this is not the case for all bacteria.

There are trillions of bacteria that live within you that help protect you. Good bacteria exist to help promote your health and prevent harmful strains from causing disease. In fact, they could be the very reason you avoid the common cold each year. Here’s how this relationship works.

Fighting Viruses With Bacteria

The bacteria living in your gut can promote healthy digestion and nutrient absorption and can impact other areas of your health too. Your immune system is largely controlled by the bacterial community in your gut, as is your mental health via the gut-brain axis.

Poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, and antibiotics can cause your natural gut community to become depleted. To prevent this and protect you from harmful strains, probiotics are your new best friend.

There is new evidence that indicates your gut bacteria can even help prevent or fight the common cold. Specific studies found that when probiotic supplements were taken daily, fewer cases of the common cold were reported.

Taking probiotics resulted in less sick time from work as compared to those who were not taking probiotic supplements. It is believed that the boost to the immune system from probiotic support enabled individuals to fight off common infections more easily.

These studies also point to the idea that an unhealthy gut or imbalanced bacterial communities could lead to reduced immunity and increased risk for colds. There is a direct link between gut health and immune system function, and probiotics can help ensure that your gut stays happy and you stay healthy.

The link between your gut and immunity lies deep within your intestinal tract—gut bacteria are responsible for what can pass through your gut and what cannot.

The digestive process leaves many toxins in your gut to be excreted, but when your gut is balanced, good bacteria prevent these toxins from going anywhere but out. An imbalanced gut results in inflammation and reduced intestinal wall permeability (leaky gut syndrome).

When this happens, toxins can escape through the walls, enter the bloodstream, and travel through the body. Your immune system immediately targets these toxins, even when they end up in healthy organs.

Eventually, your immune system is overloaded by the chronic inflammation. An overworked immune system is in no condition to fight off viral infections and your susceptibility to the common cold (and other viruses) increases.

Probiotics can help to maintain a healthy gut balance to prevent harmful strains from taking over and prevent leaky gut syndrome. In doing so, your immune system remains alert and ready to fight any and all cold viruses.

Getting the Good Bacteria

Probiotics are the easiest way to promote a healthy gut environment and in turn keep your immunity strong. You can decide to take a high-quality probiotic supplement every day or you can add beneficial probiotic foods to your menu.

The bottom line is that the more probiotics you take, the less cold medicine you will need to buy.


This is the most popular and well-known probiotic food choice but you must take care when choosing which one to eat. Many yogurts are full of live cultures, but they are also full of sugar and additives.

These additions are what bad bacteria thrive upon, and the good cultures you just ate will be overrun. Always opt for natural or organic plain yogurts instead and always check the labels for live cultures. You can also make your own from scratch.


This fermented milk drink contains cultures of lactic acid bacteria. These bacteria help to promote digestion and also boost immunity as well as bone health.

Kefir is not as common in the Western diet as it is in other areas of the world, but it has long been proven to provide good bacteria and is good for those who are lactose intolerant.


Fermented cabbage may not sound tasty but your gut and your health will definitely appreciate its presence. Sauerkraut is full of probiotics as well as essential vitamins like vitamin C. Along with the probiotic boost to fight colds, any extra vitamin C goes a long way to strengthening your immunity, making sauerkraut a natural cold medicine.

Kimchi is a distant cousin to sauerkraut that is popular in Eastern cuisine and offers the same benefits.


This soup made from fermented soybean is popular in Japan and beginning to seek recognition in the Western diet too. As a great source of fiber and probiotics, miso is an all-on-one promoter of gut health.

Good bacteria need dietary fiber (prebiotics) to thrive and miso delivers it right along with additional bacterial support.


A fermented black tea from Japan, kombucha is full of natural probiotics and makes a great addition to the cold-fighting team. With the probiotics boosting your immunity from the gut, the warmth of the tea can soothe and comfort the body.

This tea also boosts liver function and enhances the removal of toxins, thereby speeding up the body’s removal of harmful pathogens.

Probiotics are a natural way to keep common cold viruses at bay, but they are not recommended for individuals with compromised immune systems. The excess presence of bacteria can prompt immune responses which is dangerous for those with weakened immunity.

| Related: The Pros and Cons of Using Probiotics Supplements |

It leaves them more susceptible to infection. Before starting a probiotic supplement or adding probiotic foods to help boost immunity, check with your doctor first.

The Bottom Line

The common cold lurks around the corner every time the seasons change and we often feel like it is unavoidable. Keeping yourself healthy and practicing good hygiene is one way to avoid those pesky cold viruses, but in addition to this you can stock up on helpful bacteria.

A daily probiotic supplement can support your natural gut community which will strengthen your immunity. The best defense against the common cold is a great offense, and probiotics are star players on that team.

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