The immune system can be compromised following strenuous exercise but nutrition can play a role in supporting it. Find out more in this week’s Nutrition News.

Astragalus could support immune response after exercise

A team from the University of Physical Education in Poznań, Poland, has explored the role of astragalus in supporting the immune response following exercise. Strenuous exercise can sometimes leave the immune system weakened and it is thought that astragalus could play a role in restoring the immunological balance towards the Th1 immune response.

The study, reported by NutraIngredients, covered 18 participants split into two groups, one group of 10 assigned to take an astragalus supplement and the remaining 8 to take a placebo over a six week period, performing a 2000m test on a rowing ergometer at the beginning and end of the test period. The study’s authors found that the main difference was that the supplement sub group did not see any changes in their natural killer cells initial percentage following long term training, whereas the placebo group saw a notable drop in percentage.

As a result, the study concludes that astragalus is a non-toxic, bioactive option to support the immune system, particularly in balancing out cellular (Th1) and humoral (Th2) immunological responses. Given the size of the study, it would benefit from further research but as astragalus is already widely praised for its role in energy support in endurance sport.

Signs of vitamin D deficiency

Most people are aware that we get most of the vitamin D we need from the sun, that is why many people refer to it as the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, but what is perhaps lesser known are the signs of vitamin D deficiency.

This recent YouTube video by Healthline looks to address some of the more common signs of vitamin D deficiency so more people can be aware of what to look out for and how to rectify it.

These signs are:

  • Get ill more often
  • Lack of energy
  • Low mood
  • Bone, back and muscle pain
  • Wounds slow to heal

Vitamin D deficiency can be the result of a number of things, such as reduced sun exposure by staying indoors or covered up, having dark skin, age, being overweight, among others. If you think you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and you have addressed any possible causes, it is important to see a healthcare practitioner as there may be other factors at play that may be impacting metabolism of the vitamin.

Study on lactobacillus plantarum’s effects on cognitive support

The link between gut health and brain health is being explored increasingly of late and now a recent study has been published to further support this line of thought. The study, reported by NutraIngredients, involved 40 insomniacs and studied the effects of the probiotic lactobacillus plantarum on their sleeping patterns, energy and mood.

The study carried out was a randomised, double blind, parallel, placebo controlled pilot trial and the participants kept a week-long sleep log and wore a electrocardiogram (ECG) patch to objectively measure their sleep-wake cycle and see whether the probiotic offered sleep support effects. The study found that participants in the supplemented group experienced fewer depressive symptoms and fatigue as well as more stable sleep when compared to the control group.

While further research is needed to substantiate the claims, the results of this study are promising and add further evidence to the building data on the gut-brain axis.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is the Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.