Wellmune may reduce duration of colds in older people

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/IvonneW
© iStock/IvonneW

Related tags Immune system

Daily supplements of the baker’s yeast beta-glucan ingredient Wellmune may lead to fewer incidences of .upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) and shorter illness duration, says a new study.

Data published in Nutrition​ indicated that there was a trend towards fewer illness episodes and fewer days of illness after 90 days of supplementation with the beta 1,3/1,6 glucan ingredient. However, no effects were observed for the severity of symptoms.

“Finding effective prevention and management strategies for URTI remains an area of unmet healthcare need,” ​wrote scientists from the University of Southampton in England. “Despite the usually self-limiting nature of illness, the high incidence of URTI causes significant health, social and economic impact which was estimated by Fredrick et al. to cost the United States economy nearly $40 billion per annum due to use of healthcare resources and lost productivity.

“Given the scale of the problem, even interventions with a modest ability to reduce URTI incidence and/or severity may be beneficial if proven safe, effective and acceptable for widespread use.”

The study, which looked at community dwelling older adults during the winter months, adds to the ever-growing body of science supporting the immune health benefits of Wellmune.

The ingredient

Wellmune is a beta-glucan based ingredient derived from the cell walls of a proprietary strain of baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) that ‘primes’ the innate immune system - the body’s first line of defense against invasion by bacteria and viruses.

Data indicates that fragments of Wellmune digested and released by macrophages bind to the CR3 receptor sites on neutrophils, priming these cells for disease-fighting activity without over-boosting the immune system.

To produce it, Kerry removes the mannans, proteins and lipids from a proprietary strain of yeast to produce a highly purified beta 1,3/1,6 glucan (which should be distinguished from cholesterol-busting oat beta glucan, which has a different molecular structure: 1,3/1,4).

Study details

Led by Prof Philip Calder, the researchers recruited 49 people aged between 50 and 70 to participate in their study. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 250 mg per day of Wellmune or an identical placebo capsule for 90 days during winter.

Results showed that, while the results did not hit statistical significance, there was a “strong trend” to decrease the number of days with URTI symptoms, but not the severity of those symptoms.

The researchers also found that blood from participants in the Wellmune group showed a significant increase in interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) concentration from the start of the study to day 45 when their blood was stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS).

These changes suggested that Wellmune was priming the innate immune cells to an inflammatory stimulus, said the researchers.

Wellmune was also well tolerated in the elderly subjects studied, added the researchers.

“Larger studies seem warranted to explore the role of Wellmune for the prevention and control of common infections,” ​they concluded.

Improving general immune health

“As we age, our immune system slows and impacts the body’s ability to fight off health challenges such as respiratory infections,”​ said Donald Cox, PhD, Director of R&D for Wellmune. “This study not only demonstrates the immune health benefits Wellmune can provide older adults but builds upon on a body of published research showing Wellmune can improve general immune health.”

“We are committed to providing a safe and natural immune health ingredient backed by credible science." ​added Dr Cox. "This research can help communicate the efficacy and reinforce the immune health benefits of Wellmune. It also helps our customers develop products that meet the demands of a growing consumer segment, so seniors can be well and stay well.”

Source: Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2017.03.003
“Yeast-derived beta 1,3/1,6 glucan, upper respiratory tract infection and innate immunity in older adults”
Authors: R. Fuller, et al. 

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