Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "
Less fatigue, a better immune system yet training hard - thanks to beta-glucans
The researchers gave the mice in the control group no active substances. [PBS] Other test animals received 50, 100 or 200 micrograms beta-glucans daily. The human equivalent of those doses was approximately 16, 32 and 64 milligrams per day, respectively.
Beta-glucans are also present in plant-based foods such as oatmeal and in edible mushrooms. The precise chemical structure of beta-glucans is different in every food, and probably also their immunological effect.
Already on the first day of supplementation [day 0 in the figure below] the researchers saw that the time the mice were floating around passively was shorter when they were given beta glucans. The higher the dose, the stronger the effect.
Beta-glucans apparently reduced fatigue. The effect was sustained after the researchers stopped supplementation.
The researchers saw in the brains of the mice how beta-glucans reduce fatigue: by increasing the concentration of the endogenous antioxidants glutathione [GSH] and superoxide dismutase [SOD].
Neutrophils literally eat germs such as fungi and bacteria. This is called phagocytosis. The researchers discovered that beta-glucans, so to speak, fueled the appetite of neutrophils.
Through these receptors, beta-glucans boost large parts of the immune system, the researchers suspect. Beta-glucans make immune cells more aggressive, and increase the production of antibodies.
Intensive exercise can be at the expense of the immune system, but supplementation with beta-glucans may partially counteract this effect, the researchers speculate. As a result, pathogens have less chance.
When the fight of the immune system against pathogens starts in full force, aggressive cytokines such as TNF-alpha are released. A high level of that protein goes together with fatigue. By stimulating the immune system and preventing pathogens from gaining a foothold, beta glucans reduce the need to make a lot of TNF-alpha, the researchers suspect.