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Wellmune Increases Immune Function in Athletes

Clinical research published in the British Journal of Nutrition

Two people running in the sunWellmune®, a natural immune health ingredient for foods, beverages and supplements, prevented suppression of the immune system that normally occurs after intense exercise, according to a new clinical study published online in the British Journal of Nutrition.

These results, along with similar physical stress clinical studies, demonstrate that Wellmune may help recreational and elite athletes achieve training and performance goals by minimizing “down time” associated with immune suppression.

“In contrast to the placebo group, athletes taking Wellmune had a higher degree of immune support before and after exercise, as measured by monocyte concentrations and enhanced cytokine production during a simulated immune challenge,” said Brian McFarlin, Ph.D., FACSM, Associate Professor of Exercise Physiology, Nutrition, and Immunology in the Department of Health and Human Performance at the University of Houston.

Wellmune is a beta 1,3/1,6 gluco polysaccharide that boosts key innate immune cells that help keep the body healthy.  Specifically, Wellmune activates neutrophils, the most abundant population of immune cells in the body. It also enhances certain chemical messengers that help coordinate the body’s immune defenses.

Study Design

The randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study involved 60 recreational athletes [31 women (age 22 +5), 29 men (age 23 +5)] engaged in sustained aerobic exercise. Following initial screening, study subjects were given either a placebo or 250 mg of Wellmune WGP daily for 10 days.

At the end of the supplementation period, the athletes rode an exercise bicycle for approximately 50-min in a heat stress chamber set at 38C (100F) and 45% relative humidity to create an environment that placed the athletes under physiological and psychological stress.  Blood samples were drawn at day 0 and immediately before and after the exercise session and again two hours post exercise. Twenty-five different aspects of immune health were analyzed.

Using a cross-over study design, the athletes next observed a seven-day “wash out” period during which no supplement was given to clear their bodies of any supplement effect. The study subjects then repeated the 10-day supplementation with the other test variable (Wellmune or placebo).  At the end of the second supplementation period, the subjects then replicated their initial exercise regimen.

Study Results

Study subjects taking Wellmune had statistically significant higher concentrations of monocytes in their blood compared with the blood samples while taking the placebo. The higher monocyte level was recorded immediately before and after exercise, as well as two hours post exercise.

Study participants also had higher levels of key cytokines (IL-2, IL-4, IL-5 and IFN-gamma) following a 24-h Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation when taking Wellmune WGP.  LPS is derived from gram-negative bacteria and used to mimic a foreign challenge to stimulate an immune response.  The data also showed higher levels of plasma cytokines (IL-4, IL-5, IL-7, IL-8, IL-10, and IFN-gamma) two hours after exercise when the subjects had supplemented with Wellmune.  All of these results were statistically significant (p<0.05).

The research was conducted under the direction of Dr. McFarlin at the Health and Human Performance Lab, University of Houston.  The paper, “Baker’s yeast β-glucan supplementation increases monocytes and cytokines post-exercise: implications for infection risk?” was published online ahead of print in the British Journal of Nutrition.  Authors: K. C. Carpenter, W. L. Breslin, T. Davidson, A. Adams and B. K. McFarlin.  Abstract.


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