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The science behind immune gels for triathletes


Your body’s ability to protect itself can be impaired during and after prolonged exercise. British Triathlon’s official sports nutrition supplier, SiS, explain how immune gels can help protect you against this and offer you a chance to win a sports nutrition bundle.

Expertise: Ted Munson, Performance Nutritionist

What do we mean by ‘Immunity’?

The immune system is a system of bodily structures and functions that help protect you and fight against disease.

Risks of Exercise on the Immune System

It is accepted that regular, moderate intensity exercise is associated with enhanced immunity and a lower risk of developing illness and disease (1)

However, it is well known that intense exercise increases the body’s exposure to harmful bacteria and viruses, while simultaneously suppressing the immune system(2). These effects can lead to incidences of infections in athletes (3) disrupting training and ultimately compromising performance.

This may be especially important to athletes engaged in intensive periods of training (eg leading up to long distance triathlon), as even minor infections can result in a drop in exercise performance and the ability to sustain heavy training(4)

How can the athlete help combat this drop in immune function?

SiS have developed their GO Energy + Immune gels specifically at the request of athletes who wanted to minimize the risk of illness and infection during training, but they are perfect for anyone who is physically active and wants to give their immune system a boost.

Each gell provides 22g of carbohydrate with no need for additional water. A unique feature of all GO Energy + Immune gels is their ‘dual action’ to minimise infection, using a standardised cranberry, ginger or elderberry extract to provide antibacterial and antiviral effects, with a range of important vitamins and minerals to boost immune system functions (5, 6, 7)

When can I use the GO Energy+ Immune Gels?

  • During exercise to improve lung function in cold weather, at high altitude and in asthmatic athletes.
  • During exercise to provide antibacterial and antiviral benefits, reducing infection risk.
  • During flights to reduce the risk of upper respiratory tract infections from bacteria and viruses arising from other travellers.
  • During training in bad weather, to help protect against ingested bacteria and viruses.
  • Taken regularly to increase levels of the key vitamins and minerals needed for optimal immune system function.

How to win a sports nutition bundle

Fancy winning an amazing SiS bundle? Let us know your favourite (or dream new flavour!) of SiS's GO Energy gels on our Facebook post here or on twitter by tagging @brittri and using the hashtag #GOenergy and you could win one of three bundles that include SiS's REGO Rapid Recovery+ and a pack of GO Energy + Immune gels. 

Find out the unique features of each flavour


  • Vitamin A, D, E, zinc and selenium, at doses proven to reduce the severity and duration of viral infection (8).
  • The use of a special cranberry extract gives each gel a proanthocyanidins (PACs) content equivalent to 16 grams of fresh cranberries.
  • Cranberry PACs have natural antibacterial (9) and antiviral effects (10), helping to protect against gastrointestinal infections (10, 9).


  • Vitamins A, D, C, zinc and selenium, at doses proven to reduce the severity and duration of viral infection (6,7).
  • The use of a special ginger extract provides the equivalent of 4 grams of fresh ginger in each gel, ensuring effective amounts of 6-gingerol are provided.
  • 6-gingerol is a natural antibacterial (11) and antiviral (12) compound, helping protect against upper respiratory tract infections (11).
  • Recent research shows GO Energy + Immune - Ginger contains enough 6-gingerol to improve lung function by acting as a bronchodilator (13). This makes it very useful for athletes who suffer with asthma, train in cold weather, or exercise at altitude.


  • Vitamin A, D, E, zinc and selenium, at doses proven to reduce the severity and duration of viral infection (8).
  • The use of a special elderberry extract gives each gel an anthocyanin content equivalent to more than 60 grams of fresh elderberries.
  • Elderberry anthocyanins have natural antibacterial effects against gram positive and gram negative bacteria (14). They also exert antiviral effects against human pathogenic influenza A and B viruses (14), reducing the severity and duration of respiratory (15), and potentially gastrointestinal infections (16).

Remember all Home Nation members can access a 30% discount across the SiS sports nutrition range at by using the code in My Account.

Access Code

Competition Terms and Conditions

For a chance to win a tub of REGO+ and a bundle of immune gels all you have to do is reply to our facebook post or tweet @BritTri with the hashtag #GOenergy telling us your favourite flavour of immune gel.

  • The prize consists of 1 x 1kg tub of REGO+ Rapid Recovery and a minimum of 6 x immune gels
  • The competition will close at 23.59 on Sunday 3 September 2017
  • The competition is open to all Home Nations members with the exception of employees of British Triathlon, their immediate families, agents or anyone else associated with the administration of the sport. 
  • The prize winner will be chosen at random following the closing date
  • The prize winner will need to have replied to our Facebook post or tweeted to @BritTri with the hashtag #GOenergy with their favourite flavour of immune gel
  • The prize winner will be notified by a direct message on twitter or Facebook. The prize winner will have 10 working days from receipt of the Prize Notification to claim their Prize by responding to the private message. If the prize winner has not claimed their prize within this period, British Triathlon will be entitled to select an alternative prize winner.
  • Prizes are non-transferable and there is no cash alternative. In the event of a prize being unavailable for any reason British Triathlon reserve the right to substitute prizes of equal or greater value at any time.
  • All Prize-winners unconditionally agree (as a condition of accepting any prize) to: (a) the use of their name and one or more photographs); and (b) co-operate with or participate in any other reasonable post-Competition publicity.
  • British Triathlon’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. 


  1. LaVoy, E. C., Nieman, D. C., Henson, D. A., Shanely, R. A., Knab, A. M., Cialdella-Kam, L. & Simpson, R. J. (2013). Latent cytomegalovirus infection and innate immune function following a 75 km cycling time trial. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 113(10), 2629-2635.
  2. Friman, G., & Wesslén, L. (2000). Infections and exercise in high-performance athletes. Immunology and Cell Biology, 78(5), 510.
  3. Cox, A. J., Gleeson, M., Pyne, D. B., Callister, R., Hopkins, W. G. & Fricker, P. A. (2008). Clinical and laboratory evaluation of upper respiratory symptoms in elite athletes. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 18(5), 438-445.
  4. Walsh, N. P., & Oliver, S. J. (2016). Exercise, immune function and respiratory infection: An update on the influence of training and environmental stress. Immunology and Cell Biology, 94(2), 132-139.
  5. Aranow, C. (2011). Vitamin D and the immune system. Journal of Investigative Medicine, 59(6), 881-886.
  6. Maggini, S., Wintergerst, E. S., Beveridge, S., & Hornig, D. H. (2007). Selected vitamins and trace elements support immune function by strengthening epithelial barriers and cellular and humoral immune responses. British Journal of Nutrition, 98(1), 29-35.
  7. Wintergerst, E. S., Maggini, S. & Hornig, D. H. (2007). Contribution of selected vitamins and trace elements to immune function. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 51(4), 301-323.
  8. Broome, C. S., McArdle, F., Kyle, J. A., Andrews, F., Lowe, N. M., Hart, C. A. & Jackson, M. J. (2004). An increase in selenium intake improves immune function and poliovirus handling in adults with marginal selenium status. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 80(1), 154-162.
  9. Zhang, L., Ma, J., Pan, K., Go, V. L. W., Chen, J., & You, W. C. (2005). Efficacy of Cranberry Juice on Helicobacter pylori Infection: a Double‐Blind, Randomized Placebo‐Controlled Trial. Helicobacter, 10(2), 139-145.
  10. Su, X., Howell, A. B. & D'Souza, D. H. (2010). The effect of cranberry juice and cranberry proanthocyanidins on the infectivity of human enteric viral surrogates. Food Microbiology, 27(4), 535-540.
  11. Akoachere, J. T., Ndip, R. N., Chenwi, E. B., Ndip, L. M., Njock, T. E., & Anong, D. N. (2002). Antibacterial effects of Zingiber Officinale and Garcinia Kola on respiratory tract pathogens. East African Medical Journal, 79(11), 588-592.
  12. Denyer, C. V., Jackson, P., Loakes, D. M., Ellis, M. R. & Young, D. A. (1994). Isolation of antirhinoviral sesquiterpenes from ginger (Zingiber officinale). Journal of Natural Products, 57(5), 658-662.
  13. Salih (2017) The effect of ginger on lung Function. National Ribat University, College of Graduate Studies and Scientific Research. Pages 1- 13.
  14. Krawitz, C., Mraheil, M. A., Stein, M., Imirzalioglu, C., Domann, E., Pleschka, S. & Hain, T. (2011). Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 11(1), 16.
  15. Tiralongo, E., Wee, S. S., & Lea, R. A. (2016). Elderberry supplementation reduces cold duration and symptoms in air-travellers: A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Nutrients, 8(4), 182.
  16. Minodier, L., Charrel, R., & Falchi, A. (2017). Long term detection of seasonal influenza RNA in faeces and intestine. Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 23(4), 271-272.

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