Topical Area: Nutritional Immunology and Inflammation, Aging and Chronic Disease
Upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) cause cold and flu-like symptoms, with roughly 70% of the general population experiencing at least one episode annually. The resultant lost productivity has a drastic impact with an estimated 40M work or school days missed each year, translating to over $40B USD in lost potential. Certain populations, such as athletes and stressed workers are at an increased risk of URTIs. While diet, sleep, low stress and exercise are all important for a healthy functioning immune system, supplementation with natural ingredients could provide additional support. Euglena gracilis is a nutrient-rich natural microalgae (commonly consumed in Japan), containing immunomodulating beta 1,3-glucans, protein, some essential vitamins, and minerals.
Thirty-four, healthy, active (1.5-3 hours/day of an aerobic sport, 5-6 days/week) participants were randomized to either WCF or placebo for 90 days. URTI symptoms were assessed Day (D) 1 to 90 using the Wisconsin Upper Respiratory Symptom Survey. Data are shown for the a priori defined per protocol population (n=27).
Results : Participants supplemented with WCF reported a lower number of URTI symptoms from D1 to 30 (p = 0.042) and from D1 to 90 (p = 0.029), lower mean number of sick days between D1 and 30 (p = 0.047) and D1 and 90 (p = 0.041), lower mean number of URTI episodes per person (p = 0.032), and lower mean number of days with at least 1 reported URTI symptom per person (p = 0.019) between D1 and 90 compared to taking placebo. Evaluation of global illness severity found that the mean total AUC for daily symptoms was significantly lower in the WCF group compared to placebo at D1 to D30 (p = 0.043) and D1 to D90 (p = 0.049).
Supplementation with WCF positively influences the immune system by reducing URTI incidence, duration, and severity in healthy adults. It is noteworthy that in the absence of the intervention, active young adults reported more URTI episodes, sick days, and global illness severity, respectively. These data suggest the ability of WCF supplementation to strengthen the immune response as evidenced by reduced cold and flu symptoms.
Funding Sources : Kemin Foods L.C.