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Beta-Glucan May Reduce Severity of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Athletes

Extreme exercise, such as running a marathon, can negatively affect the immune system. A recent study suggests that taking a beta-glucan supplement may help reduce the severity of upper respiratory tract infection in people who run marathons.


Participants in the study included 357 marathon runners who were given either a 250 mL dairy drink containing 250 mg of a beta-glucan supplement or a calorie-matched control dairy beverage without the supplement. They consumed the drink daily for 45 days before, the day of, and 45 days after running a marathon.


The researchers found that while there were no significant differences between the groups in average length and number of upper respiratory tract infections, there was a significant reduction in symptomatic days in the beta-glucan group, when compared with the control.


They also found that the total severity of upper respiratory tract infections was lower in the beta-glucan group, when compared with the control, especially in nasal discharge and sore throat. The supplement group also had significantly fewer average missed post-marathon workout days due to upper respiratory tract infection than the control group.


Researchers from Biofortis in Illinois conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on October 31, 2018, in the Journal of Dietary Supplements.


Beta-glucan can be found in dietary sources including yeasts, algae, lichens, oats and barley. A high-quality supplement is also a good option if you’re looking to increase your beta-glucan intake.

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