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Immune Boosting Supplements


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From my book "Hell And Back" on Amazon Kindle.

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Immune Boosting Supplements

  1. 1. There are many supplements that claim to help you gain muscle and improve your physique, but I believe the most important ones are able to improve your physique with your immune function in mind. The following supplements are beneficial to immune function in a stack before, during, and after a workout to keep your CMI in tip top shape: Pre-Workout • Androstenetriol (b-AET) – a DHEA metabolite that has been found to be a potent stimulator of Th1 cytokines (IL-2 and IFN-gamma).32 Also known as 5-AT or AET, Androstenetriol has been proven to reverse immuno-downregulation in cases of traumatic shock33 and can reverse the effects of corticosteroid suppression. It is part of group of DHEA metabolites called anti-glucocorticoids, which counteract the negative effects of corticosteroid use.34 Remember, corticosteroids cause upregulation of Th2 cytokines, leaving one vulnerable to infection. The popular form of supplemental AET, beta- androstenetriol (b-AET) has been shown in studies to “protect the host from lethal infection by DNA or RNA viruses such as, herpesvirus type 2, coxsackievirus B4, influenza, and arthropod borne viruses. These androstenes also protected the host from lethal bacterial infections by Enterococcus faecalis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Klebsiella pneumonia and from parasites infections, i.e. Cryptosporidium parvum, and malaria.”35 Because it is an extremely effective anti-glucocorticoid, it is a great addition to your pre-workout arsenal because it will prevent the suppression of Th1 cytokines caused by cortisol circulation. It will boost your Th1 cytokines to higher levels of expression because of its direct effect on their upregulation common in this class of anti- glucocorticoids. Beta-androstenetriol is available as both an oral supplement (Core Nutritionals 5-AT) and a spray (Prototype Nutrition 7-Spray). I prefer the spray because DHEA and its metabolites have greater bioavailability in transdermal applications (33% transdermal vs. 3% oral)36 and also reach the bloodstream quicker by avoiding first pass of the liver.37 Normal doses may range from 50 mg to 200 mg, although there is no standard measure. Prototype Nutrition’s product recommends 50 total sprays, which I have taken up to two times per day. Take b-AET 30-60 minutes pre-workout, and if you have a longer duration or more intense workout, it may be a good idea to throw it for a second dose in 0-30 minutes post-workout in order to combat any unwanted effect from cortisol and Th1 cytokine suppression. • Phosphatidylserine – taken at 800 mg a day, in two 400 mg doses (one pre-workout dose), this phospholipid compound absolutely blunted the release of post-exercise 32 33 34 35 36 37
  2. 2. cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) in a widely circulated 1991 study.38 Measured in picograms/milliliter, ACTH spiked from just under 30 pg/mL when the workout ended to a peak of 75 pg/mL (150% increase) 20 minutes later in the control group. In the phosphatidylserine group the released ACTH started at the same 30 pg/mL level but decreased to under 25 pg/mL at about 10 minutes post-exercise, then increased back to the baseline 30 pg/mL at about 20 minutes post-exercise, but remained under that level from there forward. At 80 minutes post-exercise, the control group still had an ACTH level of about 35 pg/mL, while the phosphatidylserine group had an ACTH level under 25 pg/mL. One thing to notice is that during the workout, the ACTH release was similar at around 30 pg/mL for both groups, thus indicating ACTH release is a post- exercise phenomenon. Cortisol release began at 80 nanograms/milliliter (ng/mL) in the control group and spiked to a peak of 150 ng/mL (87.5% increase) at 21 minutes post- exercise. In the phosphatidylserine group cortisol began at about 85 ng/mL and decreased to about 70 ng/mL (17.6% decrease) at 21 minutes post-exercise. At 80 minutes post-exercise, the control group had a cortisol release of 80 ng/mL (0% from baseline) and the phosphatidylserine group had decreased to 60 ng/mL (29.4% decrease from baseline). With these results I’d recommend 400 mg of phosphatidylserine taken orally 30-60 minutes before your workout, and 400 mg with a meal upon waking. Cortisol release is highest in the morning and I exercise at night when it is at its lowest level to counteract a higher amount of serum cortisol. Therefore, I take 400 mg of phosphatidylserine upon waking with a meal, and 400 mg in the afternoon/evening pre- workout to keep cortisol release in check. It is easy to purchase online and can be found in most storefront vitamin retailers nationwide. • Nucleotides – newer to the supplement market but ever so effective, these are the structural bases of DNA and RNA molecules in the body. They occur naturally in food, but it is now thought not in an adequate enough amount for those who exercise frequently. They are naturally synthesized in the body, but again, maybe not fast enough for those who workout regularly. In a remarkable recent study published just this February 2016, nucleotides were ingested before heavy resistance exercise and resulted in a dramatic decrease in post-exercise cortisol levels from the control group.39 A marker of muscle damage, creatine kinase (CK), was significantly lower when measured 24 hours later. As a result, nucleotide supplementation helped the group perform with greater isometric force immediately post-exercise as well as 24 and 48 hours later. What this means is nucleotides allowed the group to release less cortisol, have less markers of Th2 inflammation, and recover faster to perform at a higher level in the subsequent 48 hours. The same reduction of cortisol was noted with nucleotide supplementation before high- intensity, short term exercise.40 In another trial consisting of “strenuous exercise in a cold environment” nucleotides were orally administered at 480 mg daily for 30 days before exercise. The nucleotide supplementation improved the recovery of CMI faster 38 39 4040
  3. 3. than the placebo group and on the 30th day the nucleotide group had a higher baseline level of Th1 lymphocytes than on day 1.41 I prefer to take 600 mg of nucleotides 30-60 minutes pre-workout, at the same time as my phosphatidylserine. The reason I prefer to take my nucleotides all at once? They are proven to increase endurance in trained athletes, according to a study on young, male runners in 2013.42 Since they are new they are hard to find, so I will recommend my nucleotide supplement of choice from Swanson Vitamins (300 mg per capsule). • Complex Carbohydrates – simple, effective, and you don’t even need to buy it in supplement form. One 5 oz. sweet potato would suffice, or even a bowl of steel cut organic oats. Taken 30-60 minutes pre-workout, complex carbohydrates have been proven to blunt the release of cortisol after a workout. In a study on marathon runners and triathletes, consumption of carbohydrates compared to placebo attenuated the stress response (cortisol, ACTH) positively.43 According to this study, it is theorized that carbohydrates blunt the stress response due to the more stable levels of glucose in the body when a carbohydrate is taken pre-workout since glucose is rapidly used during a workout and could provoke a higher stress response when levels are lower. It would not be a bad idea to supplement some form of quick acting complex carbohydrates (such as Vitagro) during your workout. Generally, I would take 25-50 g of complex carbohydrates depending on the length of the workout and then 20-30 g of complex carbohydrates during a workout to make sure glucose levels remain stabilized for the duration of the workout. • Whey Protein/L-Glutamine – Exercise reduces serum glutamine levels within the body, therefore it is not a bad idea to supplement with L-Glutamine or a whey protein with lower cholesterol containing high levels of L-Glutamine before your workout. Decline in serum L-Glutamine is worst after prolonged endurance exercise but also falls temporarily after shorter, high intensity exercise. Exercise induced decline in serum glutamine correlates with the increase of post-exercise stress hormones (cortisol and ACTH).44 The jury is still out on whether supplemental glutamine boosts the CMI when supplemented before exercise, but it is important to have protein in your diet before a workout anyway, so it is plausible to include protein with your pre-workout carbohydrate 60 minutes before a workout. I prefer to combine 25 grams of whey protein with 5 grams of L- Glutamine with my pre-workout carbohydrate for benefits. 41 42 Ostojic, Sergej M., Kemal Idrizovic, and Marko D. Stojanovic. "Sublingual Nucleotides Prolong Run Time to Exhaustion in Young Physically Active Men." Nutrients 5.11 (2013): 4776-4785. 43 44
  4. 4. • L-Citrulline Malate – a direct precursor to nitric oxide (NO2), it boosts Th1 cytokines and can help ward of various forms of infection.45 I like to use 6 grams of L-Citrulline Malate 30 minutes pre-workout for long lasting endurance and pumps. If you’re doing what’s best for your immune system, you are not using caffeine in your pre-workout stack. L-Citrulline is a great pre-workout supplement that works by expanding blood vessels for better oxygenation of muscle tissue and better nutrient delivery to those tissues. For an optimal pre-workout stack, throw in 4 grams of beta-alanine and 10 grams of BCAA. If you’re going to lift heavier weights, a combination of betaine (3 grams) and creatine (5 grams) will give you a nice ATP boost during your workout. It is also optional, yet recommended, to take an antioxidant intra-workout when you supplement L-Citrulline Malate because NO2 promoting compounds can cause a release of free radicals, which harm your immune response. N-Acetyl Cysteine would suffice, which I will discuss next. • N-Acetyl Cysteine – is an antioxidant and pro-glutathione stimulating drug that upregulates Th1 cytokines.46 NAC has a wide array of benefits including fever reduction, mucus clearance in the lungs, reduced asthma, reduced allergies, positive effect on collapsed lungs, reduced risk of heart disease, and much more.47 An effective dose is 600 mg, twice daily, with one of those doses coming pre-workout combined with L- Citrulline. One of the best articles I’ve read on NAC proved it may stimulate higher levels of Th1 CD4+ cells in AIDS patients, which is a remarkable feat for healthy people, let alone AIDS patients.48 This is a potent supplement, so make sure you take it safely and check for interactions, as you should with any supplement you take, but especially with N-Acetyl Cysteine. If you’re on any sort of heart or blood pressure medication, I would highly advise you check with your doctor first. That being said, this is a very safe supplement when taken at the correct dosages. Intra-Workout • Branched Chain Amino Acids – BCAA taken before, during, and post-exercise can induce a Th1 cytokine response and therefore enhance CMI.49 I prefer to take it during my workout as a well as in my pre-workout stack to ensure I get at least 20 grams of BCAAs total around my workout. If I take 10 grams pre-workout, then I take 10 grams 45 citrulline%20cell%20mediated%20immunity&pg=PA281#v=onepage&q=l- citrulline%20cell%20mediated%20immunity&f=false 46 4747 acetyl%20cysteine.aspx?activeingredientid=1018 48 l_N-acetyl-cysteine_treatment_on_CD4_and_CD8_cells/links/02bfe51349d0f7b0f9000000.pdf 49 Negro, M; Giardina, S; Marzani, B; Marzatico, F. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 48.3 (Sep 2008): 347-51.
  5. 5. intra-workout. I also don’t mind taking a combination of BCAA and beta-alanine with carbohydrates during a workout, for reasons discussed earlier. Doing so will boost your CMI as well as aesthetic and performance based gains from a workout. Post-Workout By the post-workout period, your body should have everything it needs to blunt the negative stress hormone response from exercise as well as the physiological tendency to release more Th2 cytokines suppressing your CMI response and promoting humoral immunity. It would be advantageous to take Th1 cytokine stimulating substances in this time, and if you’re feeling under the weather or even overly fatigued I’d recommend it. Another dose of b-AET is beneficial in this period, as anti-glucocorticoids are the best stimulators of Th1 cytokines. Since blunted cortisol could lead to more inflammation in the muscle itself, you could use Omega-3’s such as fish oil and olive oil to effectively reduce inflammation post-workout. It’s very important to remember what was depleted during a workout, mainly muscle glycogen (re- nourished with carbohydrates), serum glutamine (replenished by whey or L-Glutamine), and glutathione (which can be replenished by both L-Glutamine and NAC). Glutathione is a critical component of your CMI, so L-Glutamine intake is especially important.50 My personal post- workout stack consists of the following: • B-AET spray immediately post-workout • 30 g whey protein, 5 g L-Glutamine, 2 g L-Citrulline (0-30 mins post-workout) • Green apple (medium sized) for glycogen replenishment (0-30 mins post-workout) • Omega-3 fish oil (3000 mg) and Olive Oil (2 tbsp.) (0-30 mins post-workout) Wrapping it all up, if you currently consider yourself very healthy, try a few of these supplements and see if you feel better in day to day life. If you’re immunocompromised or suffering from any chronic illnesses, follow this regimen and see big improvements in your day to day health! Dietary Considerations I’m not a registered dietician (RD), so I won’t go into detail any further than I have to here. Use your common sense. For example, you read that cholesterol can convert to glucocorticoids. You now know glucocorticoids can cause suppression of the Th1 cytokines and CMI. You can then assume eating too much cholesterol could make you susceptible to viral, bacterial, and fungal pathogens. You know caffeine inhibits Th1 cytokines and decreases your CMI. Don’t take loads of caffeine, especially before a workout, and expect to never get sick. It’s your choice what you eat, but I prefer some balance. I eat a diet rich in lean protein, with dark green vegetable, and complex carbohydrates like steel cut oats and sweet potatoes in about a 2:1:1 ratio respectively. Avoid added sugars at all costs because of their terrible effect on blood pressure 50 Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1998;95(6):3071-6
  6. 6. and bodily inflammation. This makes my only simple carbohydrate sources acidic and tart fruits, which do not impair Th1 cytokine activity. Blueberries are a great source of tart fruit and is great for antioxidants. If possible, choose organic over processed foods because they have zero vegetable oils, which promote a Th2 cytokine response and suppress CMI.51 Beware of fried foods as well, since chances are they were fried in vegetable oil. Balance is key. Use your common sense! Exercise When Sick As far as exercising while sick, the tests that have been done have had mixed results. From what you have read so far, you may seem to think that it is not advisable with most forms of exercise having an immunosuppressive effect in regards to fighting viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. In thinking that, you are correct. A 2001 study (on animals) showed that one or two bouts of exhaustive exercise when suffering from a virus or bacteria leads to even more frequent infection and more severe symptoms.52 It makes sense considering the immunosuppressive effect H.I.T.T. training has on humans. My general conclusion on this topic is that you need to rest until you have recovered enough to handle an immunosuppressive effect from exercise. If a pathogen is currently wreaking havoc on your body, it’s bad to further inhibit your CMI defense. However, there is also some good news. While you may not be able to exercise during a symptomatic infection, you may be able to prepare yourself to clear it more effectively. A more recent study in 2014 (on animals) put mice through 4 weeks of aerobic exercise and then 72 hours after the last bout of exercise, infected them with bacterial pneumonia.53 A sedentary group of mice was also infected for comparison. The aerobically trained mice had a significantly lower level of colony forming S. pneumoniae units than the sedentary mice. The trained group also had higher levels of antioxidant enzymes in the lungs. This experiment proved that moderate aerobic exercise can have a protective effect against bacterial respiratory infections, presumably as a result of the increased antioxidants present in the lungs. This test correlates with the 45-minute, moderate-intensity aerobic exercise test on women discussed earlier. The protective effects of aerobic exercise against pneumonia in the animal study correlate with the increased NK cell activity and reduced symptomatic days (in trained women with URTI) in the human study. Modulating Training Strategies for Better Immune Function If you’re into fitness, but want to protect yourself from illness, training has to be programmed effectively to attenuate the immunosuppressive effects post-training. Few people can go and obliterate themselves during cold and flu season and come out of it consistently healthy. Recommendations against training while sick have a scientific basis. Then again, so do the protective measures to prevent an infection to begin with. If you follow the program I’ve written 51 52 53