Despite the fact that the incidence of infections in sedentary individuals can be decreased by moderate, regular exercise, there is evidence to suggest that prolonged, exhaustive exercise may be associated with impairment of the immune system. The amino acid glutamine is an important fuel for some cells of the immune system, of particular note, lymphocytes and macrophages. These cell types carry out specific actions in regulating immune system function.
Recent research undertaken at Oxford University has shown that heavy training significantly reduces plasma glutamine levels, and can be responsible for immunosuppression in athletes. In this study, researchers found that after intense training or endurance racing the incidence of infection significantly increased. However, with the provision of glutamine powder (5 grams) in water, the incidence of infection in athletes decreased by over 55 percent, with 57 of the 72 athletes examined suffering no infections despite heavy training and competition.
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