Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) are currently the most frequent infectious illness in humans. Effective prevention methods and treatment plans are challenging; thus, novel, safe alternative solutions are needed to reduce infection and avoid associated antibiotic use.
According to a new study just published in Nutrition, researchers demonstrate that daily oral β-1,3/1,6 glucan may be protective against URTIs as well as reduce the duration of symptoms once infected in older adults. Beta-glucan is an immune-supporting substance which has previously been shown to decrease the incidence of URTIs and modulate innate immune responses.
In this double-blind, placebo controlled study, 100 participants ages 50 to 70 years of age consumed one β-1,3/1,6 glucan supplement or placebo daily for 90 days during the winter months. URTIs were medically diagnosed and symptom severity was documented daily. In addition, blood and saliva samples were collected at the start of the study and at days 45 and 90 for the assessment of innate immune biomarkers.
At the conclusion of the study, the researchers saw a decrease in the number of symptom days compared to placebo. In addition, lipopolysaccharide-stimulated blood from the individuals in the beta-glucan group showed an increase in interferon-ɣ concentration from baseline at day 45. Interferons have the ability to protect cells from viral infections and have immunomodulatory properties.
This study demonstrated that daily β-1,3/1,6 glucan supplementation can play a role in the prevention and faster recovery from URTIs in older adults. However, all populations can benefit from this compound, especially children and athletes. Intense physical activity leads to exercise-induced immune suppression. In addition, upper respiratory conditions (e.g., otitis media or tonsillitis) are among the most common diagnoses made by pediatricians, with the potential of recurrent episodes resulting in surgical intervention. Bacterial and viral infections can lead to tonsillitis, otitis media, and their complications. Therefore, it is essential to strengthen a child’s immune defense, especially during vulnerable periods such as cold and flu season.
By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS
Source: Fuller R. et al. Yeast-derived β-1,3/1,6 glucan, upper respiratory tract infection and innate immunity in older adults. Nutrition 2017 July-August; 39-40:30-35. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2017.03.003.
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