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Chlorella boosts immune system during heavy physical exercise

Chlorella boosts immune system during heavy physical exercise
Athletes who are planning on a heavy training period may be able to reduce the chance of catching cold or getting flu by taking 6 g Chlorella every day. This is suggested by a human, sponsored study that researchers at the University of Kent in England will publish soon in the European Journal of Nutrition. Their study also suggests that the potential immunological effects of Chlorella supplementation are only visible after a month.

The researchers got 26 healthy and active people to take 6 g dried Chlorella pyrenoidosa in tablet form or a placebo for six weeks. The tablets were provided by the sponsor, the Japanese company Sun Chlorella. []

In week 4 of the supplementation period the participants had to do intensive exercise on two consecutive days. They completed two interval training sessions and two endurance training sessions.

Throughout the study the researchers regularly checked the concentration of secretory IgA [sIgA] in the participants' saliva. SIgA is an antibody found in mucous membranes and it plays an important role in fighting pathogens that try to enter the body via the mucous membranes.

In the fourth week of the study, the week in which the researchers subjected the participants to the gruelling exercise regime, the participants in the Chlorella group started to produce more secretory IgAte. It was not until weeks 5 and 6 that the concentration of secretory IgA actually rose above the pre-supplementation levels.

Chlorella boosts immune system during heavy physical exercise

Chlorella boosts immune system during heavy physical exercise

Supplementation with chlorella didn't actually result in the participants catching cold or getting flu less often. But that would have happened if the experiment had lasted longer, the researchers suspect.

"The most likely mechanisms for the increase in salivary sIgA observed after 4-5 weeks of supplementation with Chlorella are via the immunostimulating properties of compounds found in chlorella such as specific polysaccharides and glycoproteins or protein/polysaccharides complexes," the researchers write.

"In particular, Kralovec et al. identified relatively high molecular weight (>100 kDa) protein/polysaccharide complexes and polysaccharides as being responsible for the immunostimulatory effects of Chlorella pyrenoidosa in vitro." [Phytomedicine. 2007 Jan;14(1):57-64.]

"The effects of Chlorella pyrenoidosa, as a nutritional supplement, on immune function have been widely investigated. This includes findings of improved aspects of mucosal immunity, enhanced Th1 immune responses, and improved Natural Killer Cells cytotoxic activity."

"In summary, daily supplementation with Chlorella pyrenoidosa was able to increase salivary sIgA concentration and secretion rate at rest," the researchers summarised. "Together with previous research there is now substantial evidence to show that Chlorella pyrenoidosa can enhance salivary sIgA; however, in the present study it appears that a longer supplementation period may be required in order to translate to protection against upper respiratory tract infection and reduced upper respiratory tract infection symptoms reports."

Eur J Nutr. 2017 Aug 19. doi: 10.1007/s00394-017-1525-9. [Epub ahead of print].

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