By John Parrillo
By the time we publish this column, I hope the coronavirus will have flattened out and be gone or at least neutralized. The pandemic has been a lesson to us all, and lots of health advice has floated around. However, not many mainstream doctors talked about specific ways to boost immunity through supplementation and diet. In fact, I heard a lot of commentator-doctors pooh-pooh the idea of supplementation to help immunity. This frustrated me because taking supplements is excellent insurance against catching bugs that are spreading like crazy. So looking ahead to the next season of germ invasion and even right now, I want to review a number of supplemental immune-boosters worth considering to get your body in fighting shape.
This popular vitamin is a known and effective antioxidant. It operates on the cellular level to reduce “oxidative stress” a situation that occurs when body damaging free-radicals outnumber antioxidants. When oxidative stress is clobbered, you’re prone to infections.
Studies show that consuming more vitamin C can increase your blood antioxidant levels by up to 30 percent. This helps the body’s natural defenses fight off free radicals. (1)
One of the great benefits of vitamin C supplements is the fortification of the immune system. For one thing, vitamin C helps encourage the production of infection-fighting white blood cells. These protect the body against infections. Also, vitamin C helps these white blood cells function more powerfully, while protecting them from destruction by free radicals. (2)
Additionally, people with low vitamin C levels generally have poor health outcomes when sick. For example, people who have pneumonia tend to be low on vitamin C, and vitamin C supplements have been shown to shorten the recovery time from such infections. (3)
I thus believe antioxidants, especially vitamin C. are a critical component your supplementation program. I advise that you take Parrillo Bio-C™ – 1 tablet with meals in order to keep yourself fairly saturated through the day with this key vitamin. Vitamin C is water soluble, meaning it stays in the body only for a few hours – which is why I recommend that you take at regular intervals, like meals, throughout the day. Our product also contains bioflavonoids, which improve the uptake of vitamin C. Bioflavonoids also help to promote improved cardiovascular health.
Vitamin E is an inflammation fighter. For background, most inflammation is of an acute nature. You cut your finger or turn your ankle, and your body initiates healing, and the inflammation eventually subsides. So inflammation isn’t necessary bad; it is a natural defensive reaction that occurs when the immune system recognizes something inside the body that it decides is foreign (like germs) and sends reparative substances in to fix it.
But sometimes the inflammatory process does not shut off, and inflammation becomes persistent. Chronic inflammation underlies most human disease, including respiratory illnesses. If you can stop chronic inflammation or at least control it, then you have a good chance of enhancing your health.
Because of its immune-boosting power, Vitamin E provides a host of not-to-be-ignored health benefits that include improved heart, immune and eye health, as well as cancer prevention. For example, taking supplemental vitamin E at doses of roughly 400 IUs daily may prevent or reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Yes, vitamin E is found in a lot of foods. But you can’t get the recommended high doses of this nutrient from food alone – unless you want to drink vegetable oil or eat 30 cups of almonds a day. Clearly, vitamin E supplementation is the answer. My recommendation is to take 1 to 2 capsules daily of our Natural Vitamin E Plus™.
Whey is one of the highest quality protein found in protein supplements. It is a component of milk that is separated from milk to make cheese and other dairy products.
As for fortifying the immune system, whey protein is rich in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant produced within cells. Glutathione helps your immune system stay strong and fight infections.
Research shows that glutathione strengthens white blood cells, your body’s front-line infection fighters, to attack both viruses and bacteria. (4) It may also reduce respiratory disease symptoms, providing crucial protection during flu, colds, and possibly illnesses like the coronavirus.
Glutathione-rich whey is also loaded with various health-building nutrients, including B-complex vitamins, selenium, calcium, and iodine.
Several of our protein powders contain whey and should be incorporated into your diet. These include Optimized Whey Protein™, Hi-Protein Powder™, or 50/50 Plus Powder™). You can take these throughout the day – upon rising, pre-workout, and during your workout – in addition to your diet of Parrillo Performance-approved foods.
To further boost your immunity, I suggest tossing fibrous leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or romaine lettuce into the blender with the protein powder and water. This is fantastic way to punch up the immune power of your shake and increase your veggie intake. One or two handfuls of greens will do the trick; they taste great with any of our vanilla-flavored protein powders.
Although designated as a “trace” mineral, zinc is a mineral that is absolutely essential to immunity, human health, and performance. The importance of zinc has been known for many decades, but was recognized for humans only 40 years ago in the Middle East. At that time, zinc-deficient patients had severe immune problems, and many died of recurrent infections by the time they were 25 years of age.
Found primarily in seafood (particularly oysters) and meats, zinc plays a role in DNA development, immunity, and hormonal health. It also has antioxidant properties and helps fight cell-damaging free radicals.
For overall protection, it is a good move to supplement daily with a multimineral formula containing zinc. Most nutritionists and nutrition-oriented doctors recommend around 50 milligrams of zinc daily. Each supplement of our Mineral-Electrolyte Formula™ contains 11 milligrams – so I recommend taking one supplement with each of your main meals to obtain adequate zinc. This formula also contains selenium, another inflammation fighter and immune booster.
Additional advice: You can’t boost immunity on supplements alone. A diet plentiful in protein and vegetables, including yellow-orange veggies (think sweet potatoes) is the basis of immune-building nutrition. Add in supplements, and you’ll better empower your body to resist infections.
1. Kim, M.K., et al. 2003. Effect of five-year supplementation of vitamin C on serum vitamin C concentration and consumption of vegetables and fruits in middle-aged Japanese: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American College of Clinical Nutrition 22: 208-216.
2. Huijskens, M.J., et al. 2014. Technical advance: ascorbic acid induces development of double-positive T cells from human hematopoietic stem cells in the absence of stromal cells. Journal of Leukocyte Biology 96: 1165-1175.
3. Bakaev, V.V., and Duntau, A.P. 2004. Ascorbic acid in blood serum of patients with pulmonary tuberculosis and pneumonia. The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease 8: 263-266.
4. Guerra, C., et al. 2011. Glutathione and adaptive immune responses against Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in healthy and HIV infected individuals. Plos One 6: e28378.