"I Have Read That BCAA Supplementation Can Improve My Immune System, Is This True?"
A. Staying healthy long-term is a key component to staying fit. If you are sick it is very difficult to exercise, much less recover from exercise, so learning simple strategies to keep your immune system humming along can make a vast difference.
When it comes to immune boosting benefits BCAAs have a lot of data on that front. While glutamine has gotten a lot of pub for its effect on the immune system, it seems that BCAAs may be more effective as they spare and protect the body’s glutamine stores.
Since the body utilizes glutamine stores as cellular energy for the immune system, it is important to keep them topped off. It has been shown that intense exercise whether for athletic performance, muscle hypertrophy, fat loss or general health and fitness can deplete glutamine levels in the body up to 50%, and therefore significantly suppress the immune system. Fortunately as noted, BCAAs can help to maintain glutamine levels and proper immune function.
Recent research showed that after an Olympic distance triathlon, athletes supplemented with BCAAs maintained their blood glutamine levels before and after the triathlon, while the placebo group had a 23% reduction in blood glutamine. The supplemental BCAA group also had a 34% decreased risk of infection after completion of the triathlon compared to the placebo group.
Besides the maintenance of glutamine stores, other research has shown that even with glutamine at optimal concentrations, there is still an absolute requirement for BCAAs in the immune system. Immune cells intake BCAAs into their protein structures, and they also oxidize BCAAs as fuel. The immune system seems to use BCAAs mainly for protein synthesis, of which it has a very high dependence since mounting a response requires the creation of new cells, immunoglobulins, cytokines, and more.
If BCAAs are not sufficient then proper synthesis of these immune system materials is impaired and the immune response is markedly decreased.
Clearly BCAA supplementation has a considerable effect on the immune system through maintenance of glutamine stores, providing raw material to immune cells and improving recovery from intense exercise. Considering it has been shown that a mere 6 grams of BCAAs per day has been found to boost the immune system, it seems incredibly important and easy to ensure adequate intake.
If you exercise hard, whether an endurance athlete, recreation weight lifter or a weekend warrior, it seems clear that simple BCAA supplementation will help keep you fit and healthy and keep your immune fully functional.
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