Chlorella keeps immune system up to scratch during training camp
During intensive training periods – such as a training camp for example – the immune system is weakened. You can see this in athletes' saliva: the concentration of salivary secretory immunoglobulin A [structure shown here] decreases. But it doesn't if athletes take Chlorella, sports scientists at Ryutsu Keizai University in Japan discovered.
Immunoglobulin A is an antibody that is mainly active in the digestive tract. Healthy people can manufacture over three grams a day of these antibodies, which destroy viruses and bacteria. (In case you're interested: you also have immunoglobulin M, D, G and E, but they are not what we're talking about here.)
Intensive exercise reduces the concentration of immunoglobulin A in the saliva. Japanese researchers observed that the amount went down by a quarter in rugby players during a training camp. [Int J Sports Med. 2011 May; 32(5): 393-8.] Now this might not sound surprising, given that rugby players are known for the amount of drinking they manage to do during camps. But the concentration of immunoglobulin A also decreases in football players during a training camp. [Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003 Aug; 35(8): 1296-302.]
In 2011 the researchers published the results of a study in which daily supplementation with 30 Chlorella tablets of 200 mg for a period of four weeks boosted the concentration of immunoglobulin A in the saliva of healthy people by forty percent. [Nutr J. 2011 Sep 9; 10:91.] The figure below comes from that study.
So would the same dose of Chlorella help keep up the immune system level of athletes attending a camp? The same researchers came up with the answer to this question after performing an experiment with ten female Kendo athletes with an average age of 20. The athletes went on a 6-day camp in the spring and a 4-day camp in summer. During the four weeks prior and during the camps the women took Chlorella or a placebo every day.
The figure below shows that Chlorella didn't boost the concentration of immunoglobulin A in the saliva by a statistically significant amount. The supplementation did boost the total amount of immunoglobulin A because it increased the production of saliva.
The researchers are not certain whether Chlorella actually protected the subjects against viruses or other pathogens. They didn't record whether the subjects who took Chlorella were also less frequently ill.
The research was financed by SunChlorella, a manufacturer of... Yes, you guessed it.
Nutr J. 2012 Dec 11;11:103.
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