Endurance training is excellent for heart health but it does take a toll on the immune system.
It has been known since at least 1993 from a range of studies that unusually heavy acute or chronic exercise is associated with an increased risk of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI).
The clinical data supports the concept that heavy exertion increases an athlete's risk of URTI because of negative changes in immune function and elevation of the stress hormones, epinephrine, and cortisol.
The Bioxyne team suspected that PCC would be of benefit to athletes and their compromised immune systems when our own preclinical studies showed that PCC® preferentially bound to the Peyer’s patches in the gut. Peyer’s patches is immune tissue in the gastrointestinal tract that plays a key role in mucosal immunity.
We proposed, therefore, that PCC® may boost the mucosal immune system, providing protection against respiratory tract infections leading to cold and flu symptoms.
In order to examine the ability of PCC® to boost the mucosal immune system in humans, we designed clinical trials on long distance runners and other elite athletes, who are known to be more susceptible to contracting URTIs than the general population.
To carry out the study, we took 20 male elite distance runners in the height of winter. They were training to compete in events ranging from 800 metres to the marathon (42.2 km).
After recruitment, our athletes completed an initial treatment month (28 days)receiving either L. fermentum VRI-003 (PCC®) or placebo. A washout month followed the completion of the first treatment month. Previous studies have shown that it typically takes a probiotic bacteria 3–8 days to pass through the gastrointestinal tract. We then swapped what our participants were taking, so that those receiving PCC® as the first treatment received the placebo as the second treatment and vice versa. The athletes were monitored for an additional fortnight (referred toas ‘‘follow-up’’) after completing the second treatment. During each treatment month subjects were required to take three capsules, twice daily.
Athletes maintained daily diaries recording symptoms, days, severity and medications.
The most important finding of the study was a significant reduction in the number of days of respiratory illness symptoms, and a trend towards a lower severity of illness, during PCC® treatment compared with placebo.
It’s clear from the clinical data that elite endurance athletes can benefit from taking PCC® when undertaking intense training for competitions, because it improves resistance to common illnesses associated with the increase in stress hormones at that time, which will ultimately impede their training and performance.
The study authors noted that “different strains of L. fermentum have different immune-stimulating ability” - PCC® it seems is particularly effective at boosting mucosal immunity in elite athletes.
Learn more about the study here.