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EXERCISE, DIET & IMMUNE FUNCTION

fitness

 

The food we eat and the exercise we do both play important roles in the way out immune system functions.

 

Carbohydrates 

They are essential for hepatic muscle glycogen replenishment. Glucose is very important for immune cell functioning. it is suggested that you should have 1g of carbohydrates per kg of body weight immediately after exercise, and 30-60g of carbs an hour for prolonged workouts. 

 

A study by Neiman (2006) examined the influence that carbs had on immune function following a 2 hour bout of cycling. When compared with a placebo group, it was found that the carbohydrate group had less amounts of URTI’s over the 2 week exercise period as cycling intensity increased! 

 

The moral of that story is - carbohydrates = less urine infections. 

 

Probiotics 

 

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast, which are promoted as having various health benefits. They are usually added to yogurts or taken as food supplements. Probiotics have been proven to restore the natural balance of bacteria in the stomach and intestine. 

 

A study by Gleeson et al. looked at daily intakes of probiotics and their relation to infection incidence in athletes. It was found that when probiotics were taken daily for 16 weeks, that it decreased the amount of illness by 1 week than when probiotics weren’t taken. 

 

 

Exercise

 

 

 

This is the J-Shaped Curve Hypothesis (based on non athletes). It shows that regular moderate to high intensity exercise reduces the risk of infection. 

 

Moderate Exercise 

increases immune function for several hours post exercise. NK Cell Activity is increased which enhances the innate immune systems. 

Exhaustive Exercise 

Severely Impairs the first line of defence.

Chronic, Heavy Training 

Both innate and adaptive immune systems suppressed.

Could potentially lead to immunodepression.

During recovery from exercise, NK cell numbers and activity fall below pre exercise level. Production of immunoglobins is inhibited, and plasma glutamine falls by 20% and may remain low for some time. 

 

The take home message is - carbohydrates and probiotics should be taken post exercise, if the exercise is exhaustive-chronic, to help keep immune defences high and functioning well.

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