IMMUNE PROFILING TO ENHANCE PERFORMANCE AND HEALTH
DR LYNN FITZGERALD, FIT TO WIN FEBRUARY 2005
It is well established that a single intense training session results in immune system depression in elite athletes, including runners, and that restoration of full immune competence depends on adequate physiological recovery. Runners whose immune systems fail to recover completely have been shown to be more susceptible to infections, and to take longer to recover from infections and injuries than runners with “healthy” immune systems. Training is aimed at increasing an athlete’s ability to withstand increasing amounts of effort and pressure.
Our research and others have shown that an athlete’s time to recovery post-training is a sensitive predictor of an imminent state of burnout or overtraining. Within any one individual athlete, their immune ‘profile’ may fluctuate throughout the year. Thus, for example, full recovery from an exhausting training session may be observed within six hours at the start of the competitive season yet take fifteen hours in the final weeks of competition. In contrast, other athletes in the same squad may show little change and can be said to have a ‘robust’ immune profile.
Many factors contribute to a healthy immune profile, with good nutrition being perhaps the most important of all.
One way to look after your immune system is to take extra GLUTAMINE. There is a great deal of research published showing that glutamine is an essential nutrient for lymphocytes, the effector cells of the immune system, and that glutamine is depleted by endurance exercise. Significantly lower glutamine levels have been found in overtrained (now called UUPS, unexplained underperformance syndrome) athletes compared with former training partners who were still performing well. Taking extra glutamine may help your immune system to recover quicker from training, and reduce the number and severity of infections.