Can Chlorella Offset Low Immunity During Intense Training?

Can Chlorella Offset Low Immunity During Intense Training?

Do you like to exercise hard? Are long and grueling training sessions a regular part of your routine? If so, the research shows you’re more likely to get sick or experience adverse symptoms similar to a cold or flu.(1,2) Contrary to popular belief, it’s not simply a high total training load that depletes immunity, but rather how abruptly your training ramps up that leaves your immune system compromised and susceptible to attack.(3) In fact, experts have uncovered dramatic increases in training volume are perhaps a better predictor of upper-respiratory tract infection (URTI) than just your training load alone.(4) However, as an athlete you often have no choice, you have to push the accelerator to the floor and train hard to compete with the competition.  

Read More

Rhodiola & Athletic Performance: The Complete Guide

Rhodiola & Athletic Performance: The Complete Guide

Rhodiola rosea, referred to as the Arctic or Golden root, has been used by a variety of ancestral cultures for millennia to support energy and vitality. It grows at high altitudes, on mountain tops and sea cliffs in Europe and Asia and is classified as an adaptagen – a substance that supports the body during times of stress. In the 8th century, it’s believed rhodiola was used by the Vikings to fight off fatigue and increase stamina, by indigenous Sherpa’s in the Himalayas to adapt to living at high altitude and a “secret” of Soviet-era military used to ramp up resiliency during extended time on the combat field.

Read More

23 Reasons To Eat More Zinc-Rich Foods

Could you be missing this vital nutrient because of your diet? Find out if you’re not getting enough and missing out on the benefits of zinc.

In today’s 24/7 society of constant connectivity and longer work days, many people are struggling to keep up.

How can you stay on top of your work deadlines, find time to exercise, and have enough energy for family and friend time in the evening?

Fatigue, low mood, frequent colds and flu, and lack of vitality are more and more commonplace. While there are a number of essential vitamins and minerals, there are a select few that influence many key areas of your health. Zinc is one of those “all-star” nutrients.

Almost 20 percent of the population is at risk of overt zinc deficiency, while insufficient intake — a level at which your intake doesn’t meet your daily needs — is seen in almost one out two people. (1)

How important is zinc? It’s involved in over 300 different chemical reactions in the body. From immunity to wound healing, healthy skin to libido, zinc packs a serious health punch.

Here are 23 ways zinc can supercharge your health.

#1 Stops Cold and Flu

If you struggle with catching too many colds or flus, or find you’re always getting sick, then upgrading your zinc intake should be a top priority.

Zinc helps to supercharge the production of your first line of immune defense immune soldiers, neutrophils and natural killer cells, which means more protection for you from nasty bugs. (2)

#2 Supports Robust Metabolism

Whether it’s long days at the office or intense exercise sessions at the gym, stress is one of the primary causes of sluggish thyroid function and weight gain. Prolonged stress can decrease levels of both T4 and T3 thyroid hormone. Ensuring adequate zinc intake can protect against this effect. (3)

#3 Boosts Testosterone

Testosterone is equally important for both men and women. It’s vital for building lean muscle, keeping bones strong, supporting a healthy heart, and boosting libido. Zinc supports the production of testosterone at a cellular levels in the testes in men and ovaries in women if your levels are low. (4)

#4 Improves Blood Sugar

Maintaining steady blood sugar levels throughout the day is a hallmark of good health and maintaining an ideal body composition. Research in children shows increasing zinc intake has a dramatic improvement on fasting blood sugar levels. (5)

#5 Improves Insulin Function

If you’re overweight, out of shape, or in poor health, then you likely have poor insulin sensitivity. Insulin, your blood sugar hormone, has a powerful influence on weight gain and risk of chronic disease. Numerous studies show that zinc plays a key role in improving insulin sensitivity, helping to combat weight gain and chronic disease. (6)

#6 Optimizes Stomach Acid

Your stomach is in charge of breaking down the food you eat so you can absorb all the wonderful nutrients in your meal. This requires robust levels of stomach acid (HCl) to be produced.

Unfortunately, people are so busy at work that they often eat lunch without even leaving their desk, which can hinder HCl output, as can diets low in zinc, which is required to support the parietal cells that produce HCl. Vegetarians typically have lower stomach acid levels than meat eaters, and their diets are also lower in zinc. (7)

#7 Improves Fertility

If you’re trying to conceive, and you want to keep your “swimmers” strong (or your partner’s) then ensuring adequate zinc status is very important. Add some of the zinc-rich foods at the end of this post to increase your intake to improve fertility. (8)

#8 Fixes Acne Problems

Struggling with chronic acne? Nutrient deficiencies and poor nutrient absorption are often overlooked by today’s doctors. The research shows a strong correlation between low levels of zinc and increased severity of acne. (9)

#9 Boosts Low Mood

There are many factors that impact low mood and depression. On the nutrition front, correcting low zinc levels has been shown to reduce anger and incidence of depression in young women. (10)

#10 Supports Healthy Growth In Toddlers

Infants and young children are at particular risk of zinc deficiency. (11) If your child is not growing at the same rate as his or her peers, zinc deficiency may be a root cause.

The likelihood of low “height-for-age” in children under 5 years old has been recommended as an indirect indicator of zinc deficiency and when the prevalence of slow growth is greater than 20 percent, the risk of zinc deficiency is elevated. (12)

#11 Acts As Aromatase Inhibitor

If you’ve been struggling with weight gain and have increased belly fat, an enzyme called aromatase ramps up in fat cells that converts your muscle-building testosterone into fat-building estrogen.

The more overweight you are (particularly around the midsection, more commonly seen in men), the worse things get. Zinc acts as an aromatase inhibitor, which blocks this conversion… which is a good thing!

#12 Reduces DHT Levels

Another factor that reduces testosterone levels, particularly in men with male-pattern baldness or significant body hair, is the conversion of testosterone to DHT (dihydrotestosterone).

Like the aromatase enzyme, zinc helps to block the conversion of testosterone to DHT. (13) This is very good news because DHT is a much weaker form of testosterone and doesn’t provide the mood-boosting, muscle-building, or healthy heart-supporting benefits that regular testosterone does.

#13 Speeds Wound Healing

Fall off your bike lately? Snowboarding accident? Or simply cut yourself shaving? Zinc is an essential mineral that supports collagen formation, helping to rebuild tissue and accelerate wound healing. (14)

#14 Stops The Ringing In Your Ears

Tinnitus is the medical term for ringing in your ears. In traditional Chinese medicine, being fatigued or rundown is tops on the list and in clinical practice high coffee intake (inhibits absorption of key minerals, like zinc, when taken with food) is also a primary culprit. The research shows that low zinc levels also may play a key role. Bump up your zinc levels and see if it’s the quick fix you need. (15)

#15 Increases Muscular Strength

Do you struggle with low back pain? How about low vitality and energy? Building strength in the gym is a great way to fight off all of these ailments. (Recall the famous quote… “only the strong survive!”)

If you do start going to the gym, adding more zinc into your nutritional arsenal has been shown to support significant increases in strength. (16)

#16 Supercharges Your Libido

Oysters have been traditionally viewed as an aphrodisiac, boosting libido and sexual vigor. It’s no coincidence that oysters are head and shoulders above all other foods when it comes to zinc status. Low libido? Eat more super zinc-rich oysters!

#17 Reduces Inflammation

If you’re overweight or in poor health, you’re likely suffering from some degree of systemic inflammation. Experts agree that high levels of inflammation are a root cause of many of today’s chronic diseases.

Getting enough zinc in your diet can help reduce pro-inflammatory cytokine molecules and reduce CRP levels in the body, a classic marker for systemic inflammation. (17)

#18 Boosts Brain Function

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a potent mood-boosting chemical that is decreased in athletes training intensely, overweight individuals, or those with systemic inflammation.

Interestingly, a significant positive correlation has been found between zinc and BDNF levels, which supports positive mood and brain function. (18) Another great reason to eat steak! (A great source of zinc).

#19 Fights Off Psoriasis

Approximately 7 million adults suffer from psoriasis, a skin condition marked by red, scaly patches that tend to be quite itchy. Topical zinc creams have been shown to be highly effective at reducing local psoriasis. (19)

#20 Protects Against Anorexia

Anorexia is most common among young women, a group that is also at high risk of zinc deficiency, in particular if they’re vegetarian. The medical journal Eating and Weight Disorders found that insufficient zinc intake adversely affects specific neurotransmitters in the brain and that zinc supplementation is able to correct these abnormalities. (20)

#21 Quenches Free Radical Damage

Your cellular membranes are responsible for communication between all the cells of your body, and free radical damage from a poor diet, lack of exercise, or environmental factors constantly cause free radicals — little fires that must constantly be put out by antioxidants. Zinc acts as an antioxidant to protect cell membranes from free radical damage. (21)

#22 Stops Diarrhea In Kids

If your kids are suffering from bouts of diarrhea, zinc supplementation has been shown to be an effective strategy for reducing both the severity and duration of the illness. (22)

#23 Helps Repair Leaky Gut

Zinc has been found to play a key role in protecting against intestinal permeability or leaky gut, a condition where undigested food, proteins, and bacteria from the gut can enter the bloodstream unimpeded, leading to immune system over-activation and possible autoimmune conditions. (23)

How do you know if you may be low in zinc? Common symptoms include poor immunity, low stomach acid, low testosterone levels, white spots on your finger nails, allergies, thinning hair, or acne.

Blood tests for serum or RBC zinc can help identify frank zinc deficiency, while zinc insufficiency is typically seen when lab results show low white blood cell (WBC) counts, as well as low levels of alkaline phosphatase (ALP).

If you want to upgrade your zinc intake, oysters are your best bet. A 3-ounce serving provides 74mg, almost 500 percent of the daily recommended intake.

Beef and crab are the next best, at about 7mg per 3-ounce portion, and other meats like lobster, pork, and chicken provide 3mg per serving. Vegetable sources include cashews and almonds, at 1.6 and 0.9g per ounce.

If you want to upgrade your health, energy, and vitality, then ensuring your body is getting the right dose of the essential mineral zinc — responsible for over 300 key reactions in the body — is an absolute must.

(This article originally appeared on Paleohacks.com)

Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CISSN, CSCS

 

Check out more articles in the IMMUNITY SERIES...

 

Check out more articles in the "VITAMIN DEFICIENCY" SERIES...

Vitamin D and Omega-3 Supplements on The Paleo Diet

Choosing a Paleo diet and eating more in tune with how we’ve evolved provides the body with a robust amount of essential protein, healthy fats, gluten-free carbohydrates and nutrient dense veggies. An ancestral approach to eating also provides your body with key nutrients, vitamins and minerals the way nature intended. Does this mean that supplementation is unnecessary if you’re following a Paleo lifestyle? It’s a complicated question.

Most articles and blogs about supplements inevitably discuss the benefits or drawbacks of multi-vitamins. Research shows that if you eat a diet centered around the most nutrient dense foods – quality meats, veggies and fats – you’ll likely already be achieving a therapeutic dose for most vitamins and minerals. When intake is at a supra-physiological dose (that can never be found in nature), too many vitamins can actually put you at risk of chronic disease. Does this mean if you’re following a Paleo diet you don’t need any supplements?

Let’s look at the two most common instances where supplementation might still be a good idea, vitamin D and omega-3 fats. In both of these cases, although a Paleo diet is a great place to start, for many people this may not be enough.

SHOULD YOU SUPPLEMENT WITH VITAMIN D?

Vitamin D is classically known as an essential nutrient for bone health and immunity, however new research shows this fat-soluble vitamin has much more profound impacts on your health and well-being.

How important is vitamin D? Dr. Michael Holick, physician and vitamin D expert sums it up. “Imagine what would happen if a drug company came out with single pill that reduces the risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke, osteoporosis, PMS, depression and various autoimmune conditions? There would be a media frenzy the likes of which has never been seen before! Such a drug exists… it’s the sun.”1, 2, 3

Vitamin D is different than other vitamins because it’s created under your skin when ultraviolet light from the sun interacts with a specific enzyme to form cholecalciferol or vitamin D3. However, exposure to daily sunlight is no longer the norm as we are cooped up in cubicles all day and the deeply ingrained ancestral benefits of light exposure are overlooked.

It’s estimated that up to 70% of the American population is deficient in vitamin D (defined as blood levels below 20ng/mL or 50 nmol/L), or suffering from vitamin D insufficiency, a level above a diagnosed deficiency but still not sufficient for good health (measured as 20-32 ng/mL or 50-80nmol/L). 4

If you live in a northern climate with a true winter season, or north of the 49th parallel, it’s very difficult to achieve the required blood levels of vitamin D from food alone. While cold-water fatty fish, eggs and mushrooms are good foods sources of vitamin D, in the dead of winter they’re likely not enough. Adding a supplement can be highly beneficial.

The standard medical recommendation for vitamin D drops is 1,000-2,000 IU per day, however in the darkest winter months you may need a higher dose. Remember, always get your blood levels tested and work with a doctor if you’re thinking of supplementing with more than the recommended dose. The normal range is typically between 32-50ng/mL (80-125nmol/L) and for athletes new research suggests achieving levels greater than 40ng/mL (100nmol/L) to support superior performance and recovery.5 Be sure to take your vitamin D supplement with a meal that includes fat for optimal absorption.

SHOULD YOU SUPPLEMENT WITH FISH OILS?

Extra long-chain fats eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the omega-3 ‘all-stars’ when it comes to supporting overall health and combating chronic disease. While most people know the benefits of omega-3 fats for cardiovascular health, many don’t realize they also help reduce the risk of diabetes and depression, protect against mental stress, and even support athletic performance by improving muscle protein synthesis and controlling excessive inflammation.

How important are omega-3 fats? In 2013, the Cardiovascular Healthy Study found that people with the highest omega-3 (e.g. EPA and DHA) levels in their blood had the lowest overall mortality rates.6 In short, the more omega-3 fats you consume, the less chance you have of dying from absolutely any cause. The good news is they are found in abundance in a Paleo diet (e.g. grass-fed meats, wild ocean fish, farm fresh eggs). However, modern day living and long, busy days might mean you’ll benefit from extra support.

If you’re prone to low mood or depression, or cope with regularly high stress levels fish oils could well be an important key to improving your brain health. A study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found people experiencing depression had consistently lower levels of essential fatty acids in their blood. When subjects supplemented with fish oils they had significant improvements in their Hamilton Rating Scale, a recognized evaluation system for depression.7 The British Journal of Nutrition also discovered that supplementing with fish oils helps reduce the adrenal over-activation associated with high levels of mental stress.8

Rates of diabetes and pre-diabetes have never been higher, and constantly being on the go is just one factor that can lead to snacking on convenience foods that are high in processed carbs and sugars. A recent study of fish oil supplementation effects on blood sugar and insulin levels over a 3-week period found significant improvements in insulin function in those with elevated levels.9

Of course, it’s not enough just to increase your omega-3 intake. It’s far too easy to obtain excessive amounts of omega-6 type fats in today’s world, whether from processed foods, restaurant eating, or convenience snacks. The beauty of adopting a Paleo diet is that it often naturally restores this common imbalance. However, the impacts of modern living may still leave you short.

Unless you’re eating 1-2 pieces of cold, deep-water fatty fish daily, it’s best to add an omega-3 supplement rich in EPA/DHA. Fish oil is the richest in EPA and DHA, however krill oil, sea oil, and sea algae are all viable options as well. Aim to supplement with 1,000-1,500mg of combined EPA and DHA daily.

If you’re an athlete and training intensely fish oil supplementation can be a game changer. Supplementation can lead to an amazing 50% increase in the up-regulation of mTOR, the genetic signaling pathway that stimulates lean muscle growth, leading to significant increases in muscle protein synthesis and muscular hypertrophy.10If you’re serious about your training, adding extra omega-3 fats to your sports nutrition arsenal is important.

A Paleo diet is a great way to cover all your bases on the nutrition front. However, depending on your genetics, where you live, how busy you are, and your lifestyle, diet may not be enough to correct low or insufficient levels of vitamin D and omega-3 fats. Adding these two supplements into your regime, particularly throughout the winter months, may be the fix you need to improve your health, productivity at work and performance in the gym.

(This article originally appeared @ThePaleoDiet.com)

Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CISSN, CSCS

Want to learn more? Listen to Paleo founder Dr. Loren Cordain PhD in episode #10 of the Dr. Bubbs Performance Podcast.

 

Check out more articles in the "IMMUNITY" SERIES...

Check out more articles in the "VITAMIN DEFICIENCY" SERIES...

REFERENCES

  1. Holick M.Vitamin D Deficiency:What A Pain It Is. Mayo Clin Proc 2003 78(12):1457-59Holick, M. Article Review: Vitamin D Deficiency. NEJM Medical Progress. 2007, 357:266-81.
  2. Holick, M. Shinning A Light On Vitamin D-Cancer Connection IARC Report. Dermato-Endocrinology, 2009 1(1):4-6
  3. Hanley D, Davison, K. Symposium: Vitamin D Insufficiency: A significant risk Factor in Chronic Disease and Potential Disease-Specific Biomarkers of Vitamin D Insufficiency: Vitamin D Insufficiency in North America. J Nutr 2005, 135:332-37
  4. Koundourakis, N et al. Vitamin D and Exercise Performance in Professional Soccer Players. Plos One. 2014 Jul 3;9(7):e101659.
  5. Mozaffarian D, Lemaitre RN, King IB, et al. Plasma phospholipid long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and total and cause-specific mortality in older adults. A cohort study. Ann Intern Med 2013; 158:515-525.
  6. Su K, Huang S, Chiu C, Shen W. Omega-3 fatty acids in major depressive disorder. A preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 2003;13(4):267-271
  7. Delarue J et al. Fish oil attenuates adrenergic overactivity without altering glucose metabolism during an oral glucose load in haemodialysis patients. Br J Nutr. 2008 May;99(5):1041-7.
  8. Delarue J et al. Interaction of fish oil and a glucocorticoid on metabolic responses to an oral glucose load in healthy human subjects. Br J Nutr. 2006 Feb;95(2):267-72.
  9. Smith GI et al. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids augment the muscle protein anabolic response to hyperinsulinaemia-hyperaminoacidaemia in healthy young and middle-aged men and women. Clin Sci (Lond). 2011 Sep;121(6):267-78.