Beta Glucan Offsets Exercise Induced Immune Suppression
Friday, June 15, 2012
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist Byron J. Richards,
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A common problem among athletes is the suppression of their immune system following regular intense exercise. In fact, if history repeats itself, more highly trained athletes will miss this summer’s Olympics due to infection rather than injury. A new study shows that consuming beta glucan can improve immune response in relation to demanding exercise; this finding is highly relevant to any person who exercises.
In terms of evolution, demanding exercise implies that you are running from a saber-toothed tiger or chasing down some food to eat. Such activities tend to be high risk. If you get bit by the saber tooth tiger you do not want a highly active immune system, it will react against you and cause auto-immune problems. This is why our genes are programmed to down-regulate immunity in response to demanding activity.
A common problem today, especially in those who are overweight, have digestive problems, fatigue, or some level of fibromylagia, is that they have toxic bowels due to digestive bacterial and Candida overgrowth. On the one hand people with these conditions know they need to exercise in order to improve their fitness. Yet, they may say they don’t have the energy or when they do try to exercise they feel worse or even flu-like (which is not their imagination).
As exercise takes place your body starts to heat up, which in turn causes increased permeability of your digestive tract. This means that toxins from your gut, especially bacterial LPS, can leak back into your circulation and impair immune function. When you combine this unfortunate state of circumstances with the fact that exercise can be immuno-suppressive in general, then people can find themselves between a rock and a hard place trying to get their health turned around.
It is vital that any person seeking better health have better fitness, which includes the ability to perform demanding physical output without having immune-related or other repercussions. In the new study the daily consumption of beta glucan significantly improved the immune response to toxic bacterial exposure (toxic LPS), as a result of one hour of intense bicycle riding in active men and women (not elite athletes).
I previously reported that consuming bovine colostrum also improves this issue as a result of sealing the leaky gut so less toxic LPS can leak back into your body as your body warms up from exercise.
Supplementation with beta glucan and bovine colostrum are tools that can help improve your response to exercise. Other efforts to improve digestive health, such as increased fiber, friendly flora, or nutrients that help knock down germ gangs may also be important. My point is that many people need to improve their digestive health in order to improve their fitness and general energy level.
I have written extensively on the subject of using nutrients to improve cellular energy and fat burning during exercise, including my popular article on what I take before I run. All of these tips still apply. It is simply that some people may need to do more with their gut health to get back on track.
This information is also relevant to any person who exercises regularly. This includes children in competitive sports and adults trying to stay in shape. And if you are striving to be an elite athlete it tells you that the health of your digestive tract may mean the difference between being really good and being the best.
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