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Probiotics & Athletes - Feed Hack acute illness protocol

By Ad hawk
October 19, 2017

[Placeholder]Probiotics & Athletes - Feed Hack acute illness protocol

The Protocols 

As with any athletic intervention or training regimen it is helpful to have a protocol by which to help guide its execution. Nutrition and supplementation should follow such protocols. Taking a capsule supplement daily is one such protocol. However, we frequently get asked about any necessary changes for taking Sound Probiotics based upon different circumstances that face athletes: What if I’m traveling? What about before competition or a big training block? What if I’m starting to get sick?


These are honest and important questions that need to be answered for athletes and their coaches. Unfortunately, the research has not provided us with many definitive answers. But it has provided some guidance and along with our numerous conversations with professional athletes and coaches we feel confident in putting forth protocols to help address these questions and to better utilize the benefits of Sound Probiotics. While we erred on the side of a formula with a CFU count beyond what was usually used in the studies, individual needs can differ. It is possible then, that some athletes will need a higher dose especially during particularly intense and stressful events or travel.


You feel like you are getting sick:


Our first encounter with taking additional doses to stave off illness came from a veteran professional triathlete. He told us that at the first sign of any cold symptoms he would triple the dose (3 capsules) for 48hrs. The triathlete said that he had successfully warded off a cold twice by increasing the dose. Of course, I was skeptical…until I tried it successfully myself. My own experience got me thinking about a possible mechanism by which acutely increasing the dose of the probiotic would be of benefit. 


One of the mechanisms by which probiotics exert their beneficial effects on immune function is through direct stimulation of the immune system. Probiotic strains are capable of affecting an acute immune response by:


  • enhancing immune cell activity
  • increasing antibody production 
  • stimulating the important protective mechanisms of proteins called interferons
  • These effects may occur more quickly than the other ways by which probiotics affect the immune system. It is possible then that an increased dose of probiotics could lead to an enhanced acute immune response – enough to ward off an impending cold; a therapeutic effect, not just a prophylactic one.


Since the first athlete to report these findings to us, and my own experience, we have had other athletes discover this solution as well. While we would like to see a study performed on the acute, therapeutic effects of probiotics on relieving cold symptoms the anecdotal evidence from our product and the known physiological mechanisms of probiotics is a strong argument for this use. 


Acute Illness Protocol: At the first sign of cold symptoms (i.e., cough, congestion, nasal drainage, sore throat, etc) increase the dose to 3 capsules daily for 48 hours. If you are feeling better after 48 hours you can return to your regular daily dose. If you continue to feel sick the increased dose may shorten the duration of the illness, therefore continue to take 3 capsules for a total of 5 days. 


Traveling, prior to competition, and/or a large training block:


Traveling, competition, and increased training intensity all impact immune function. I’m sure you have experienced getting sick shortly after one of these events. The rational for this occurrence is known as the ‘Open Window’ theory whereby immune function is impaired for approximately 3–72 hours after strenuous exercise. 


We have athletes using Sound Probiotics, who despite a total reduction in sick days during competition, still fall ill after particularly strenuous events or international travel. For these athletes we devised the following protocol based off of the evidence from the acute illness protocol as well as taking into account the other mechanisms by which probiotics exert their beneficial affects on immune function, namely intestinal barrier protection.


Increased Stress Protocol: increase dose to two capsules a week prior to international travel and/or a large training block/competition. Continue to take the increased dose during the event and for 3 days after the event or returning home.