At D2D, we continually pursue ways to strengthen our immune system to keep us healthy, especially as we approach winter. Some of us have recently added a specific probiotic to our balanced diets and have felt its immune response benefits. We’re reviewing the research behind this product so you can determine if it may be helpful to you, as well.
On the run? Listen to our post!
As you may know, we do not normally write about supplements, let alone tout a specific product. As we enter the winter season, we want to be sure to enjoy all the fun activities. Here is a Cargill product that the D2D team, our friends and families, and many of us have been successfully taking over the past few years to boost our immunity.
EpiCor, a supplement derived from yeast, is gaining momentum in the marketplace for its immune function benefits. Clinical trials show that taking EpiCor, a yeast-based supplement, can strengthen your immune system and support a healthy gut.
EpiCor has undergone eight human clinical trials, all of which have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and have used a standard dose of 500 mg per day.
Six of the eight trials conform to the “gold standard” of clinical design in that they were randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trials.
Results show that EpiCor strengthens the immune system while it balances immune response.
What is Epicor?
Epicor is a postbiotic supplement made from fermented brewer’s yeast. This fermentation process creates metabolites, which include proteins, polyphenols, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, polysaccharides, and fiber.
EpiCor’s history began with Diamond V, an animal nutrition company located in Iowa. Embria Health Sciences, owned by Diamond V Mills, discovered the health benefits of EpiCor back in 1998 when farmers noticed increased animal health once they switched their animal feed to Diamond V’s products as part of their feed rations.
Simultaneously, the Diamond V employees manufacturing the yeast-based products also experienced improved health, simply from exposure. In fact, the employees’ health improved so much that their corporate health insurance company contacted management to make sure that they hadn’t switched health care providers because there were little to no healthcare claims.
Once this was brought to their attention, Diamond V management conducted a pilot study comparing workers exposed to the yeast and those who were not. Those exposed to the yeast had 65% more IgAs, antibody proteins that fight off antigens, in their saliva!
Sounds impressive, but what are IgAs, exactly?
This chart shows the difference in IgAs between the workers exposed to the fermented yeast while making the feed formulation and those working in the offices. Source: EpiCor.
IgA and Immune System Response
Let’s say you are at the grocery store, happily stopping your cart in the aisle to say hello to your neighbor. She smiles, her face mask slips, and then…. ACHOO! You have just been sneezed on. Now, what do you do? Of course, being polite, you find a way to gracefully end the conversation, all while frantically wondering if she is sick or was it just a sneeze.
Your body knows exactly what to do to protect you! We don’t think about it but, with every breath, we move large volumes of air through our nose and mouth. It is no surprise that we have millions of microbes (viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens) constantly entering our bodies. While no one likes to have a lot of mucus floating around in our head, the right amount of mucosal fluid serves as a ‘liquid wall’ between these outside invaders and your epithelial tissue, the protective lining inside our organs and glands.
Mucus lines our nose, trachea, lungs, esophagus, and intestines and serves as the first layer of defense to keep those pathogens out of our interior environment. As a point of interest, the entire mucosa in our body is about 400 square meters – about two times the size of a tennis court!
Floating through your tears, saliva, sweat, lungs, and gastrointestinal passages are antibodies called IgA (secretory immunoglobulin A) that help prevent the viruses from entering a host cell.
When a virus enters the host cell, it sits on the cell membrane, unlocks a cell door, and drops in its own RNA to infect it. Once the cell is infected, it rapidly makes at least tens of thousands of infected copies. In turn, each one of those cells makes tens of thousands of copies, and so on, and so on. This is why colds and flu can come on so quickly and spread so rapidly through our bodies.
You basically want a lot of IgAs. EpiCor may help increase our IgAs, thus giving us a stronger defense to protect our cells from getting infected with virus-causing colds, flus, and other sicknesses entering our airways.
To help you understand antibodies, here’s a brief tutorial on how we are protected against millions of pathogens we encounter daily. Antibodies like IgA are a critical line of defense throughout your body. We have five different types: IgA, IgE, IgG, IgM, and IgD. Each of them has a distinct function and location, but all are made by our millions of B lymphocyte white blood cells.
Like law enforcement protecting our neighborhoods, our B lymphocyte white blood cells constantly patrol our blood and lymph nodes for destructive pathogens trying to enter a cell. But just as law enforcement would have one strategy for a bank robber and another for a drug dealer, B cells send out a different antibody depending on the toxin or pathogen. For example, an antibody that kills a cold virus is different from one that kills a staph infection.
B cells are incredibly adaptable. If our body needs more of a certain type of antibody to fight a specific virus, the B cell can change the genetic structure of an antibody and turn it into what is needed. Let’s say the body has received an onslaught of a cold virus. The B cell that recognizes a cold’s antigens will start producing more antibodies. Additionally, if the body’s defense needs more IgAs, the B cell can change an IgM antibody into an IgA antibody.
Do you know why you become immune to a disease after you have contracted it or received a vaccine? B cells have memory. If they see a familiar pathogen, they will send out antibodies to kill it. Even if they encounter a similar but not exact pathogen, they will make antibodies to kill that, too.
EpiCor and Cell Invasions
What happens if a virus enters the cells and begins to replicate? What does your body do then?
Enter the T cell. Produced in the bone marrow and maturing in the thymus, one of their many functions is to attack a cell once it has been compromised by a pathogen. One subset of T cells are NK cells (Natural Killer cells), which comprise about 20% of our white blood cells and can react to a pathogen within hours. They are like sharks, constantly patrolling the body, looking for infected or cancerous cells, and then destroying them.
The Effect of EpiCor on Natural Kill Cell Activation. Source: EpiCor.
In vitro data suggests EpiCor can help activate your Natural Killer Cells. This is the second layer of added protection if the virus escaped the antibodies created by the B cells.
EpiCor and Allergies
There are times when our immune system overreacts, which can lead to chronic inflammation. Allergies are caused by an overreaction to an allergen, such as pollen or animal hair. An increase in the immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody causes sneezing, itchy eyes, and inflammation.
EpiCor may help keep the IgEs in balance, helping to ‘up regulate’ and ‘down regulate’ your immune system faster so your system doesn’t become as allergic or inflamed.
EpiCor Protects against Cellular Damage
As we mentioned earlier, EpiCor is made with fermented yeast. Fermentation happens when yeast and bacteria break sugars into alcohol or acids. This gives us beneficial pre-, pro-, and post-biotics for our digestive health. Consuming these products can help our body have more antioxidants.
Yeast produces complex sugar molecules called polysaccharides. One of these is called beta-glucan which is known to increase our antioxidants to help prevent cell damage by eliminating free radicals. Eating fruits and vegetables also help boost antioxidants, delivering the same benefits.
EpiCor’s prebiotic effects increase ‘good’ bacteria (such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli), promoting better digestive health. But ‘good’ bacteria alone aren’t enough to help your intestine thrive.
An unhealthy diet of sugar, carbohydrates, and fats – without the right balance of lean meats, fruits, and vegetables – can lead to ‘bad’ bacteria overwhelming your microbiome.
How to Take EpiCor
Each one of us has different genetics, epigenetics, immune systems, and lifestyles. Like a diet, your response to EpiCor will be different than mine. Similarly, the way that you administer it within your household may be different than ours. For example, at home, we take EpiCor every day. If we are around sick people or traveling, we double the dose. While it begins to work within two hours of taking it, effectiveness is best after 60 days. So it’s best to not skip a day!
If you’re looking for a bottle yourself, just know that EpiCor is a business to business company, so you’ll find several brands of supplements that include the recommended amount of 500mg in their products. As with any supplement, your physician can help guide you in this process.
The Bottom Line
EpiCor is not a guarantee of perfect health, but it can be a helpful supplement in your daily routine. This is especially true when our stress level increases. As with any supplement, be sure to talk to your doctor about any questions you have. And don’t forget to maintain your immune health by eating a balanced diet, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep.