There have been many studies associating Wellmune consumption with a decreased severity and length of upper respiratory tract infections done on many populations, but most of these have used Wellmune in capsule form, or powder dispersed into a beverage.
According to researcher and poster co-author Dr. Eunice Mah, this is the first study to look at Wellmune’s efficacy when blended into a ready-to-drink dairy-based beverage.
“What is not known is if you see the same effects when you use beta-glucan in other forms,” she told us. “This is important to figure out because we know that the structure of carbohydrates can be affected by how a food is processed.”
“This beta-glucan…goes through ultra-high temperature processing,” she said. “You want to make sure that the ability of the yeast beta-glucan to interact with the immune system is still present in a beverage form.”
The clinical trial was funded by Ireland-based Kerry Group, which acquired the Wellmune brand from Biothera in 2015.
A product for marathon runners
Participants in this current study were marathon runners, a popular sample population for Wellmune clinical trials.
Runners are also a target audience for finished products containing the beta-glucan because the immune system gets compromised after physically exhausting activities.
“What we saw when we gave this beverage to marathon runners was a decrease in total number of days the marathon runners experienced cold and flu systems. We also saw a decrease in severity of sore throat and nasal discharge,” compared to participants who took a placebo dairy drink with no Wellmune, Dr. Mah said said.
They measured cold severity and length using a standardized tool called the Jackson Index Symptom Rating.
The outcomes weren’t drastically different from previous studies on Wellmune and cold or flu symptoms. However, “it shows a company doing due diligence in the sense that they have some data on this, but now they’re using a different form that’s going through a certain type of heating processing in a liquid,” said DeAnn Liska, PhD, senior director of nutrition and scientific affairs at Biofortis.
The study comes at a time when many consumers increasingly look for functional claims and ingredients in food and beverage, and associate ‘dietary supplements’ with beverages and powders.
“Beta-glucan is not one molecule, it’s a family of molecules, it’s a fiber, it’s a chain with a certain link. If you heat it, you can chop it up and things could happen to that. What [Kerry] did was say, ‘we need to know that impact as we make a different type of product or use a different type of processing.’”
Source: Nutrition 2018
Poster presentation, June 9-12, Boston, MA
"Beverage Containing Baker's Yeast Beta Glucan Decreases Severity of Upper Respiratory Tract Infection Symptoms: A Randomized, Controlled, Parallel Study"
Authors: Eunice Mah, et al.