Nutrition Supplement Helps COPD Patients

Peptide supplement with exercise helps build body mass and lower inflammation

(RxWiki News) Some nutritional supplements can actually do the body good, particularly among those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

The benefits of taking supplements have been debatable over the years, and in this case, whey peptide is a winner.

A recent study found that a diet including whey peptide supplements increases body weight and helps prevent systemic inflammation among elderly COPD patients.  But, you must combine exercise therapy to realize the benefits.

"Tell your doctor before taking any supplements."

Previous studies have established that whey peptide has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.

In this study, led by researcher Keiyu Sugawara of the Department of Rehabilitation at Akita City General Hospital, 36 elderly COPD participants with less than 110 percent ideal body weight and 80 percent of ideal forced expiration volume were randomly divided into two groups and given a low-intensity exercise therapy program.

One group received a 200 kcal/pack of MEIN, a nutritional supplement containing whey peptide, twice a day in addition to normal meals for 12 weeks. The supplement is 20 percent protein, which is important in developing muscle mass.

The other group received a supplement without the protein ingredient along with regular meals. Neither the researchers nor the participants knew who was receiving the supplement with the whey peptide.

To help researchers keep track of their diet, participants recorded their food intake over three consecutive days and averaged out their protein, carbohydrate and fat totals both before and during the last week of nutritional therapy.

Both groups underwent a light exercise program that included upper and lower limb exercises, walking for at least 15 minutes, and cardiovascular strength training set at 40-50 percent of maximum difficulty. Participants also had a monthly 45-minute educational program incorporating lectures and discussions, accompanied by a periodic nurse's visit to check on their progress.

Before taking the supplements and three months after completing the program, researchers measured participants' body composition, skeletal muscle strength, exercise tolerance, and the quantity of cytokines, or protein molecules responsible for communication between the body's cells.

Results show that the percentage of body weight among the group who consumed whey peptide increased 3 percent after the 12-week program while the other group's body weight percentage remained the same. Health status and emotional stability, as measured with a questionnaire, also increased among the whey peptide group more than the other.

The number of cytokines, which are responsible for inflammation, also decreased significantly after the supplement and exercise program.

Whey peptide, the authors note, can be modified to provide different effects on the body. Previous studies had focused on different components of the supplement.

Further research needs to be done to know which component of the supplement is directly inhibits cytokines and consider how other levels of exercise intensity take effect.

The article was published online Aug. 2 in Respiratory Medicine. The authors report no conflicts of interest. 

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Review Date: 
August 24, 2012