It’s well-known phenomenon. Early in the year, thousands hit the gym in a shared resolve to lose weight and get healthy. Unfortunately, many are also sharing their cold and flu germs.

So how do you stay healthy while trying to get fit?

Understanding Immunity and Exercise

While moderate exercise does boost your immunity, intense and sustained bouts of exercise actually has the opposite effect. White blood cells, a body’s first line of defense, actually decline about 2 hours after a hard-core workout.

So if you are ‘exercising your heart out’ at the gym – doing intense cycling, or training for a marathon – you may want some extra protection to ward off the cold and flu germs that are rampant this time of year.

Immunity Boosting Benefits of Nutritional Yeast

In a new study, those eating the equivalent of less than ¾ of a teaspoon of nutritional yeast a day had better white blood cell activity post-workout.

But can nutritional yeast cut your risk of getting sick?

Researchers studied Carlsbad Marathon runners to see how they’d fare in the weeks following the race. Many of the competitors taking a placebo developed upper respiratory infections. But the runners that were taking the equivalent of a spoonful of nutritional yeast a day had much lower rates of infections. The rate was cut in half!

What is Nutritional Yeast Anyway?

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast. You can get it at most natural food stores, and I recently found it at my local King Soopers (Kroger.) The yellow flakes provide 9 grams of complete protein in just 2 tablespoons.  It’s also a good source of chromium, potassium and selenium.

Because I have a family member that is not eating meat, dairy or eggs right now, I buy nutritional yeast fortified with B12. I use it to make cashew cheese dip and as a substitute for cheese in other recipes. Sometimes I sprinkle it on popcorn.

Have you tried nutritional yeast? Join the conversation over on Facebook.