Buy one get one 50% off all True Athlete products. Mix and match. Online and in store. Sale ends March 1, 2015. Shop now
plus get free shipping on orders over $25. Order by 6 p.m. ET Ships same day. Learn more.
Reorder products. See your order history.
FREE SHIPPING on orders of $25 or more.

How to get FREE Shipping:
1. Place your online order of $25 or more*
2. Ship to an address within the United States (including U.S. territories)
3. Your shipment should arrive within 2-6 business days from your order

* Your total purchase must reach the designated amount after any discounts are applied and prior to the costs of shipping and tax.
Order by 6, We'll Ship the Same Day

Domestic orders placed Monday - Friday by 6 p.m. Eastern Time will be packed and shipped the same day, pending verification of billing information and the shipping method selected. International orders and orders containing gift cards, out-of-stock items or refrigerated items will be processed as quickly as possible, but won't necessarily be shipped out the same day.

Excludes all orders placed on major US holidays (Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day).


Health Guides
Health Concerns
Vitamin Guide
Herbal Remedies
Weight Control
Sports & Fitness
Women's Health
Men's Health
Safety Checker
Food Guide
Personal Health Tools
 Print this article

Immune System Boost May Help Athletes Stay Healthy

Immune System Boost May Help Athletes Stay Healthy: Main Image
Results showed that the athletes who took pleuran had increased levels of natural cells that help fight infection
Athletes need to stay healthy in order to perform at maximal capacity and intensity, but too much exercise may actually weaken the immune system and leave them vulnerable to upper-respiratory infections, such as colds or flu. A study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology reports an immune-system boost to athletes who took beta-glucan supplements and fewer incidents of upper-respiratory infections.

Boosting immunity

Prior research has shown that regular, moderate exercise may help boost the immune system and reduce respiratory infections, but research has also shown that people who engage in regular, intense and prolonged exercise--such as athletes--may be at increased risk for respiratory infections.

In this study, researchers test the effects of pleuran, an insoluble form of beta-glucan from the mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus (commercial name Imunoglukan), which has previously been shown to have immune-boosting properties. Every day for three months, 50 randomly assigned athletes were given either two capsules of Immunoglukan (100 mg of beta-glucan and 100 mg of vitamin C) or placebo supplements (vitamin C 100 mg only) and were monitored for symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections for three months following supplementation.

Results showed that the athletes who took pleuran had increased levels of natural "killer" cells--cells in the immune system that help fight infection--and reduced upper-respiratory infection symptoms compared with the placebo group. The authors comment, "[Upper respiratory tract infection] symptoms at a crucial time in the athlete's training or competition schedule can have adverse effects on performance. It has been suggested that immunonutrition for heavily exercising athletes is needed and helps maintain immunity and health."

Staying in top shape

While such research holds promise, this is one small study, supported by the makers of Immunoglukan, so further research is needed to assess the safety and effectiveness of such supplements.

In the meantime, for athletes who need to be on top of their game in order to perform and win, here are a few tips for staying in optimal shape:

  • Balance is key. Even athletes can overtrain and exercise too much, which increases the risks of injuries and physical and emotional stress. The healthiest athletes engage in a balanced life of training, sleeping, eating right, and enjoying a social life which includes "down" time.
  • Eat right for optimal performance. While athletes may have special diets that they follow before performance and during training times, they still need a diet that includes an abundance of fruits and vegetables--providing essential nutrients--and a source of protein, as well as other foods including whole grains. Extreme dieting does not add to the health or performance of an athlete but rather increases the risk of injury and disease.
  • Turn to healthy living to optimize performance. Some athletes turn to high-dose supplements or steroids to enhance performance, but this may come at a cost, particularly in the case of steroids, which can be dangerous. Athletes should engage in a healthy lifestyle with expert training advice from a balanced coach and talk with a knowledgeable doctor before taking supplements.

(Eur J Appl Physiol DOI 10.1007/s00421-011-1837-z)

Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, websites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker.

sign up. save big!

invalid email address entered. please try again.

almost there! click sign me up for exclusive coupons, great deals, early access to sales and info on how to stay healthy & fit.  view our privacy policy.