Fight the flu with fitness!

by Denis Faye | March 22, 2014

Hokuto_no_willieUsually, I’m all “blah, blah, blah, veggies, blah, blah, blah omega-3 fatty acids,” but today let’s shout-out to another mondo importanto aspecto of health: exercise. 

A British survey shows that people who hammer themselves with “vigorous” exercise for more than 2.5 hours a week were less inclined to catch the flu. In this instance, they were referring to jogging, fast cycling, fleeing from angry Highlanders, and whatever else Poms do for fitness–but I’m guessing P90X would fit the bill too.

That being said, fitness freaks do experience a Kryptonite moment in the 24 hours after an extreme event (marathon or century extreme, not Hot Yoga extreme) where their mucosal immunity dips, making them more vulnerable to upper respiratory tract infection. 

Translation: The layer of germ-killing snot that covers everything from your nostrils to your mouth to your throat to your intestines to the inside of your who-ha and/or wiener (depending on your gender) is compromised, making it easier for you to get sick. 

To get you through this moment of weakness, research featured in the Journal of Dietary Supplements shows that beta glucan found in baker’s yeast increases salivary IgA, warding off illness

Another translation: a special sugar in baker’s yeast increases the immune antibodies in your spit, indicating it helps strengthen wimpy post-exercise mucus .

 While the study calls for 250mg of baker’s yeast beta glucan, if you’d prefer a more “real foods” route, you’ll find beta glucan in whole grains, especially in oats, wheat, and barley. (Much to my personal distress, beta glucans are broken down in the brewing process, so beer doesn’t count. Damn.)

So, to sum up, exercise hard and often to ward off the flu–and if you’re doing a big event, a generous bowl of oatmeal for breakfast is a great way not just to top your glycogen stores, but also to further boost your immunity.

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2 thoughts on “Fight the flu with fitness!

  1. Seth Mauldin

    When you said that the “beta vulcans”… were broken down in the brewing process, is this something different from a similar study released out of Munich 2-3 years ago touting the same flu fighting benefits of non-alcoholic beer consumption? Same type of study– using the polythenols found in beer to boost immune system following extreme exercise… I can’t remember if i read that one on here on or Steve Edwards blog– either way; please tell me I’ve not forced myself into learning to drink Kaliber for naught!

    P.S. Just spotted that I wrote beta vulcans… thought about changing it, but the thought of little microscopic Spocks fighting off germs inside my gut was much cooler than beta glucans.

    1. Denis Faye - The Nutrition Nerd Post author

      Seth – sorry for the delay. Still getting used to my new blog format.

      No, those were polyphenols in the non-alcohol beer–entirely different. However, there’s a study on rats showing that mixing polyphenols with beta glucans improves both of their abilities to boost health.


      In other words, drink your beer with my oatmeal if you want to live long and prosper.


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