Today, we cover proposed nutrients/supplements to improve immune resistance.

Immune resistance can be considered as our immune weaponry that protects us by destroying viruses, pathogens and microbes.

Next week, weโ€™ll cover the proposed nutrients/supplements to improve immune tolerance, i.e. our ability to endure and control infection.

In a recent review, Neil Walsh (2019) identified 7 nutrient/supplements and examined their level of benefit in preventing upper respiratory infections (URI) in athletes (not COVID-19):

๐Ÿญ) ๐—ญ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฐ:

Potential = Zinc deficiency results in impaired immunity, is required for DNA synthesis and functioning of immune cells.
Supplement Benefit = No support for preventing URI. Regular high dose supplements can decrease immunity and should be avoided. More is not more, just donโ€™t be deficient.

๐Ÿฎ) ๐—š๐—น๐˜‚๐˜๐—ฎ๐—บ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฒ:

Potential = Acts as an energy source for immune cells (lymphocytes) and circulating levels are lower after heavy training.
Supplement Benefit = Supplementing before and after exercise does not alter immune function. Thereโ€™s some evidence for reduced URI incidence after endurance events through daily supplementation.

๐Ÿฏ) ๐—–๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฏ ๐—ฑ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ธ๐˜€/๐—ด๐—ฒ๐—น๐˜€:

Potential = Maintains blood glucose during exercise, lowers stress hormones and counters immune dysfunction.
Supplement Benefit = Limited support that consuming 30-60g carbs/hour during exercise reduces infection risk. Carbs during can dampen stress hormone, but not all changes in immune function.

๐Ÿฐ) ๐—•๐—ผ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฒ ๐—–๐—ผ๐—น๐—ผ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฟ๐˜‚๐—บ:

Potential = Claimed to improve mucosal immunity and improve resistance to infection – contains antibodies, cytokines and growth factors.
Supplement Benefit = Limited support showing a decreased incidence in URI from maintaining mucosal immunity after heavy exercise.

๐Ÿฑ) ฮฒ-๐—š๐—น๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜€:

Potential = Found in cell walls of yeast, fungi, algae and oats: Claimed to stimulate innate immunity.
Supplement Benefit = Effective in mice with the influenza virus, however studies with athletes show no benefit to immunity and mixed results for URI incidence.

๐Ÿฒ) ๐—˜๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ:

Mechanism = Herbal extract claimed to enhance immunity through enhancing macrophage function (detecting, engulfing and destroying pathogens).
Supplement Benefit = Meta-analysis shows small reduction in URI incidence but no influence on duration in general population. Unclear findings in athletes โ€“ more research needed.

๐Ÿณ) ๐—–๐—ฎ๐—ณ๐—ณ๐—ฒ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฒ:

Mechanism = Immune cells express receptors that caffeine can bind to.
Efficacy = Thereโ€™s evidence that caffeine can activate lymphocytes and reduce the decline in neutrophil function after exercise. No known evidence for reducing URI in athletes.

Long story short, thereโ€™s some nutrients/supplement that may benefit your immune weaponry, but the MOST IMPORTANT THING is to not be deficient in anything in order to maintain immune function. The additional โ€˜immune boostersโ€™ really donโ€™t do too much in shielding us from infection.

Therefore, we should perhaps place our focus on nutrients/supplement that can improve immune tolerance. Next week I cover; probiotics, vitamin C, D, E, Omega 3’s and polyphenols.

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