Nav: Home

Carbs during workouts help immune system recovery

February 15, 2017

Dr Jonathan Peake and Dr Oliver Neubauer, from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, led a research review of studies about exercise and immunity.

They found the best way to avoid unfavourable changes in the immune system during a post-workout recovery was consuming carbs during or immediately after the exercise.

The paper was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

"There is intense interest in what athletes can do to recover faster from exercise," Dr Peake said.

"Among various nutritional strategies to counteract immune depression during exercise recovery, carbohydrates have proven the most effective. Ingesting carbohydrates during vigorous exercise may help, because carbohydrates maintain blood sugar levels.

"Having stable blood sugar levels reduces the body's stress response, which in turn, moderates any undesirable mobilisation of immune cells. However, more research is warranted to verify that this also helps to prevent infections and illnesses."

Dr Peake said exercise can increase and decrease the number of immune cells in blood.

But he said studies did not support the long-held belief that exercising regularly without allowing sufficient time for the immune system to return to normal increased the risk of a weakened immune system.

"People often have fewer natural killer white blood cells after a workout but we now believe they move to other parts of the body, rather than being destroyed.

"Exercise is a form of stress and more vigorous exercise creates more physiological stress which causes physiological and biochemical changes in the body. To tackle the potential threats these changes highlight, the immune cells may simply move out of the blood stream to the lungs, for example.

"This still leaves our bodies vulnerable to infections and, generally speaking, the more strenuous the exercise, the longer it takes for the immune system to return to normal.

"Epidemiological evidence suggests that regular moderate exercise protects against upper respiratory illnesses, like the common cold, whereas regular intense exercise increases the risk of upper respiratory illnesses."

Dr Neubauer said the research suggested most people only need carbohydrates during high-intensity or prolonged exercise of 90 minutes or more.

"The consumption of carbohydrates before and during strenuous exercise not only improves endurance performance, but it can also minimise exercise-related immune disturbances," he said.

"Between 30 and 60 grams of carbohydrates every hour during exercise help to support normal immune function. Examples of carbohydrates that could be consumed during exercise include carbohydrate-containing fluids, gels and bars consisting of different carbohydrates such as glucose and fructose. Alternatively, bananas may also do the job.

"As general advice for people who train for and participate in endurance events, any products should be tested if they are tolerated in the field.

"Consuming carbohydrates in the first few hours immediately after strenuous exercise also helps to restore immune function. This is especially important in situations where the recovery duration between two consecutive exercise sessions is short, which is often the case for athletes."

The researches did not find sufficient evidence to recommend 'immune-boosting' supplements, for example antioxidants.

"A diversified and well-balanced diet is most likely sufficient to help maintain immune function following longer-term exercise training.

"Sleep is recognised as important for maintaining immune function. However more research is needed to understand the influence of sleep on immunity in athletes."
-end-


Queensland University of Technology

Related Immune System Articles:

Using the immune system as a defence against cancer
Research published today in the British Journal of Cancer has found that a naturally occurring molecule and a component of the immune system that can successfully target and kill cancer cells, can also encourage immunity against cancer resurgence.
First impressions go a long way in the immune system
An algorithm that predicts the immune response to a pathogen could lead to early diagnosis for such diseases as tuberculosis
Filming how our immune system kill bacteria
To kill bacteria in the blood, our immune system relies on nanomachines that can open deadly holes in their targets.
Putting the break on our immune system's response
Researchers have discovered how a tiny molecule known as miR-132 acts as a 'handbrake' on our immune system -- helping us fight infection.
Decoding the human immune system
For the first time ever, researchers are comprehensively sequencing the human immune system, which is billions of times larger than the human genome.
Masterswitch discovered in body's immune system
Scientists have discovered a critical part of the body's immune system with potentially major implications for the treatment of some of the most devastating diseases affecting humans.
How a fungus can cripple the immune system
An international research team led by Professor Oliver Werz of Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, has now discovered how the fungus knocks out the immune defenses, enabling a potentially fatal fungal infection to develop.
How the immune system protects us against bowel cancer
Researchers from Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin have discovered a protective mechanism which is used by the body to protect intestinal stem cells from turning cancerous.
How herpesviruses shape the immune system
DZIF scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München have developed an analytic method that can very precisely detect viral infections using immune responses.
The immune system's fountain of youth
Helping the immune system clear away old cells in aging mice helped restore youthful characteristics.
More Immune System News and Immune System Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.