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Marathon aftercare: Reduce respiratory tract infections

Marathon aftercare: Reduce respiratory tract infections
27 September 2021
2-minute read

This article has been written by Jason Jackson, Sport Nutritionist and Scientific Advisor at Sons

Marathon season is nearly upon us and the main focus for all runners is preparing your body for the task ahead. Less thought may be given to the period that follows a marathon, however.


The intense training volume can take its toll on our immune system and suppress the production of our natural killer cells, neutrophils, and macrophages - the white blood cells and lymphocytes responsible for fighting off viruses, infections and early signs of cancer[1].


Distance runners are particularly susceptible to upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) in the two weeks immediately after taking part in a competitive marathon or triathlon event. Typical symptoms include cough, sore throat, headache, fatigue, and body aches. Consider further the time of year that marathons take place, with cold and flu spreading freely, and the potential risk of sickness can be understood.


The Journal of Sport Science and Medicine published a study on the effect of the yeast extract Beta-Glucan (known by its commercial name "Wellmune") on both the health and wellbeing of marathon runners. 


The setting was the Carlsbad Marathon, overlooking the Pacific coast between San Diego and LA. The study featured 75 athletes with an average age of 36 (the oldest participant was 53). 


Thirty minutes before their daily breakfast, the athletes consumed 250mg of the immunostimulant Wellmune. The effects were significant. 


The Wellmune group experienced less than half of the URTI symptoms and a third of the infections as the control group[2].  Athlete wellbeing was measured using the Profile of Mood States (POMS), a methodology used in over 2,900 clinical studies to provide a reliable assessment of wellbeing. Overall, the "global mood state" improved by 11%. Specifically, fatigue fell by 48%, anxiety and restlessness decreased by 38%, and attention and memory scores improved by 38%.


Beta-Glucan can be derived from oat, mushroom or yeast. However, it’s not interchangeable. Only the Baker's Yeast byproduct (saccharomyces cerevisiae) has consistently demonstrated immune-supporting properties[3].


For those who are interested in the additional protection that Wellmune offers, the Son's Immune Health Supplement includes 250mg of Baker's Yeast Beta-Glucan, the same amount used in the Carlsbad Marathon study. It is also bolstered with additional supplements noted to reduce URTI symptoms, such as zinc[4] and vitamin C[5].


Good luck!




[1] Peters and Bateman, 1983. 

[2] Talbott & Talbott, 2009

[3] Walsh et al., 2011

[4] Prasad et al., 2000

[5] Peters et al., 1983

All of our blog articles are reviewed by our Medical Director before publication.