Elderberry-probiotics combo improves health of airline crew

By Olivia DeSmit

- Last updated on GMT

Airline flight crew members can be subject to work-related health issues including lack of sleep, improper nutrition and cosmic radiation.    Image © Anchiy / Getty Images
Airline flight crew members can be subject to work-related health issues including lack of sleep, improper nutrition and cosmic radiation. Image © Anchiy / Getty Images

Related tags elderberry Probiotics Lactobacillus rhamnosus Lacticaseibacillus paracasei Gut health

A combination of elderberry and probiotics showed improved bowel well-being, higher health-related quality of life and other benefits for airline crew members, says a new study from Italy.

Writing in Microorganisms​, scientists from Synbiotec Srl. and the University of Camerino suggested that elderberry and probiotics may have a synergistic effect, enhancing the health benefits of each other.

Airline flight crew members can be subject to work-related health issues including lack of sleep, improper nutrition and cosmic radiation. The authors of this study tested whether the combination of a bioactive extract and probiotic would mitigate or prevent some of the negative impacts of airline employment.  

“Compared to the general population, flight attendants have an increased prevalence of intestinal disorders and oxidative stress associated with low immune system function,” the authors wrote.

Supplement and study methodology

Elderberry is used often as an immune supplement due to its hypocholesterolemic and antioxidant activity. It also contains free radical scavengers, vitamins and minerals. The authors found in a previous study that “elderberry extract combined with a SYNBIO probiotic formulation revealed higher antioxidant activity than the single extract, suggesting that probiotics potentiate the antioxidant activity of elderberry.”

A total of 37 participants were included in statistical analyses for this double-blind randomized study with placebo control. Participants assigned to the ACTIVE group took 1 capsule every day for 30 days of SYNBIO probiotic (a 1:1 mix of L. rhamnosus​ 501 and L. paracasei​ 502 by Synbiotec Srl) enriched with elderberry flower and leaf extract. The formula was 0.2 grams SYNBIO and 0.07 grams elderberry. At the beginning and end of the trial, both ACTIVE and placebo participant groups provided fecal and saliva samples and completed bowel well-being questionnaires, the Psychological General Well-Being Index and the Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale.

Benefits of elderberry and probiotic supplementation

The supplemented group showed statistically significant differences after 30 days for intestinal regularity, stool volume, constipation and other bowel well-being markers. The health-related quality of life improved for the supplemented group as well, with management of anxiety, depression, general health quality and vitality feeling as well as self-control showing statistically significant improvements. For GI symptoms, placebo participants had a max pain level of 7 (very severe discomfort) reported during the trial while supplemented participants reported only a 3 at most (moderate pain).

Healthy bacteria levels increased for the supplemented group for both Lactobacillus spp. And Bifidobacterium spp. The authors also confirmed intestinal transit survival of the active probiotic strains.

slgA, an immunoglobulin that neutralizes mucosal pathogens, was also measured. The supplemented group showed a statistically significant increase in slgA levels after 30 days. The authors write, “This increase was considered as a marker of enhancements to the body’s capacity to defend itself, which was likely due to the beneficial action induced by the high content of antioxidant polyphenols present in the elderberry extract and their potential combination with probiotics.”

The combination of probiotic and elderberry extract showed several benefits for participants. “The SYNBIO and elderberry extract dietary supplementation might be beneficial for airline crew members as it can increase their overall physiological state, improve their defenses, and increase the strength and efficiency of their gastrointestinal apparatus in response to the continues exogenous attacks they are subjected to during their highly demanding working life.”

Source: Microorganisms
2023, 11​(4), 924; doi: 10.3390/microorganisms11040924
“SYNBIO Probiotic and Antioxidant Dietary Supplementation: Clinical Trial Evaluation of Potential Effects on Airline Flight Crew Members’ Well-Being”
Authors: M.M. Coman, et al. 

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