Boosting the immune system with baker's yeast beta glucan, a natural food, beverage and supplement ingredient, may help athletes stay well after intense exercise, according to findings published in the current issue of the Journal of Dietary Supplements.

Lost practice days and reductions in performance have been the norm for athletes until now since intense exercise temporarily suppresses the immune system. β-glucan may help athletes stay healthy after intense workouts and competitions, enabling them to train harder and longer.

Two specific studies

The paper focuses on results from two clinical studies conducted with ImmiFlex/Wellmune WGP®, a beta 1,3/1,6 glucan from a proprietary strain of baker's yeast. Researchers found that Wellmune made a statistically significant reduction in the incidence of post-competition upper respiratory tract infection symptom days and also boosted mucosal immunity, the first line of defense against respiratory challenges.

One of the two studies was conducted among marathon runners and found that in contrast to the placebo group, those taking Wellmune/ImmiFlex had a higher degree of immune support before and after exercise as measured by the incidence of upper respiratory tract infection symptoms for 28 days post marathon. In addition, runners taking Wellmune for four weeks post-race reported a 37% reduction in the number of cold/flu symptom days post marathon.

The other study, conducted among stationary cyclists exercising in a heat-stress lab, measured changes in mucosal immunity. Subjects had been supplemented for 10 days with either Wellmune or placebo. It found that subjects taking Wellmune had a 32% increase in salivary immunoglobulin (Ig-A) at two hours post exercise.

While many dietary interventions have been used to combat post-exercise immune suppression and are largely ineffective, the clinical research results with Wellmune/ImmiFlex, demonstrate that its use can positively impact the immune system and help athletes to stay well, said Brian McFarlin, Ph.D., FACSM, Assistant Professor, Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation, University of North Texas and lead investigator.

Not just for athletes

It's no longer a foregone conclusion that athletes will lose precious post- competition recovery and training days because they gave the competition their all," said Jan Oddvar Johansen, chairman, Immitec, the exclusive European distributor of Wellmune/ImmiFlex. Coaches, trainers, sports dietitians and athletes now have a clinically proven way to support everyday immune health. This means athletes can stay well so they can play well.

The immune-boosting benefits of Wellmune are not just for athletes, added Johansen. These results are consistent with previous clinical studies demonstrating that Wellmune helps keep ordinary people experiencing life's daily stresses healthy."