Notes from Nutrition 2018 in Boston

Even after high heat processing, beta-glucan in an RTD may reduce severity of colds in marathon runners

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

iStock / lzf
iStock / lzf

Related tags Wellmune wgp Beta-glucan Fiber Carbohydrate Colds Flu Upper respiratory tract infection Upper respiratory tract

A clinical research lab tested the efficacy of a beverage containing the branded beta-glucan Wellmune and suggested that it may help reduce severity of colds.

The lab, Illinois-based Biofortis​, presented their study as a poster at the American Society for Nutrition’s Nutrition 2018​conference in Boston, which ended today.

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.

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