Supplements are typically of fairly low priority when it comes to fat loss and muscle building. Balanced diets will almost always provide us with all of the nutrients we need for our goals. As such, a well-balanced diet is something that you should pursue before supplements are even remotely considered.
Stay at home and more formal lockdown measures make following a balanced diet particularly difficult, however. As of writing, the world continues to face a global pandemic with novel coronavirus COVID-19, placing many of us in stringent, and in some cases severely enforced, conditions. This leaves us with two considerations:
- How we can minimise supermarket shopping trips without resorting to hoarding
- How we can maximise our diet to support immune functioning and overall recovery
Given the circumstances in which we find ourselves, it may be useful to plug holes in otherwise balanced diets with cost effective supplements – providing key nutrients in a long lasting format. The four supplements we recommend for usage in this way include high quality versions of a multivitamin and mineral supplement, a protein supplement, fish oil supplement and a greens-type powder.
Multivitamin and mineral supplements
A high quality multivitamin and mineral supplement acts as a sort of dietary insurance policy in our eyes. The right product will make sure you are getting enough of each vitamin and mineral in a bioavailable form that the body can absorb and use.
There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that specific vitamins and minerals are essential for an efficient immune response. Not only that, but that reduced levels of any of them can diminish immune function and create a window of opportunity for infectious pathogens. These essential vitamins and minerals include vitamins A, B, C, D and E, carotenoids, folic acid, zinc and iron, amongst others.
As you might expect, each vitamin and mineral plays a different, essential role. Some produce antioxidants that help combat the potentially harmful byproducts of the immune response. Some are involved in the synthesis of nucleic acids, DNA and proteins involved in both immune function and communication. Some are involved in managing the inflammatory response triggered in the acute phase of immunity. Finally, some are actively involved in promoting the destruction of pathogens.
While all of these vitamins and minerals can be attained in the diet, in the present climate it can be hard to get everything we need in adequate quantities. This is where a high-quality multivitamin comes into its own. Make sure you check the labels, though – a good multivitamin supplement will meet all recommended daily allowance (RDA) amounts and only include highly bioavailable forms of each nutrient (e.g. zinc citrate or glycinate instead of zinc oxide). U.P. Complete Multi is a full-spectrum multivitamin that ticks all of the requisite boxes, but other options are available – just consult the label to make sure you aren’t being led astray.
Protein is particularly important when it comes to immunity, and it is often (wrongly) overlooked in this regard. Protein energy malnutrition is thought to be the leading cause for an individual’s inability to effectively fight infectious disease, especially in developing countries (though this malnutrition is still observed in the developed world).
Almost every form of immunity can be negatively impacted by protein malnutrition, as it causes lymphoid organs responsible for producing and housing essential immune cells to waste away. Protein malnutrition also causes a decrease in white blood cell levels, and outright halts the production of antibodies needed to fight invading pathogens.
During infection, protein loss occurs at a rapid rate as it is broken down into amino acids to support the now-heightened immune response. This is not the only reason we recommend whey protein, however. We suggest it because whey protein is cheaper than any other form of protein, and has a better shelf shelf. It is considered to be the gold standard in protein composition, containing a high abundance of essential amino acids, with high bioavailability.
With all of this in mind, a high-quality protein supplement should be a first port of call for helping to support immune functioning – especially when you are in a pinch financially, or struggling to get hold of high quality protein rich foods. We offer our own solution in the form of U.P. Whey Protein, though whey protein is easily one of the most readily available supplements today, so you have plenty of options to choose from.
Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are essential as they cannot be produced by the body – they must be consumed through the diet. Fatty acids serve as key components of cell membranes, and precursors for essential bodily compounds. As such, reduced levels of omega 3 and 6 have been linked to reduced immune functioning.
The role that fish oil plays in immunity is primarily as an anti-inflammatory, and as such, over or underconsumption can do more harm than good to the immune system. This means that consuming the right dosage of fish oil is key. High doses of fish oil can cause reduced movement of immune cells towards sites of inflammation, decreased cellular movement, and reduced release of cytokines related to immune response. This is good when there is a lot of inflammation in the body already, but less so in an otherwise healthy person.
It is crucial, therefore, that the fish oil supplements you buy are high quality, with appropriate dosages and form. Fish oil supplements are often cheaper, longer lasting and easier to get hold of than natural sources of fish oil (e.g. pieces of fresh salmon). A well-priced, high quality and appropriately dosed fish oil with high QPA and DHA content will be extremely useful during the COVID-19 lockdown, and our Omega 3 Concentrate supplement is exactly that.
Greens powders are useful at this time, as our ability to consistently get hold of fruits and vegetables hangs in the balance. Greens powders typically include powdered versions of various fruits and vegetables, often including extra vitamins and minerals. Particularly high quality greens powders often include phytonutrients, probiotic blends and digestive support ingredients.
Fruits, vegetables and probiotics are important for immunity as they all provide the vitamins and minerals already discussed in high quantities. These combine to support immunity in numerous ways, while also helping to support the gut-associated immune system by reinforcing the physical barriers supporting immune function. Barriers in the gut include the stomach acid, mucus and the tightly-connected cell walls that collectively help to isolate pathogens, stop them spreading, break them down and destroy them.
The dietary fibre and components of fruits and vegetables that we consume can act as ‘pre-biotics’ because they are broken down in the large intestine and fermented by our gut bacteria, leading to an increased presence of beneficial gut bacteria. These elements also support the maintenance of tight junctions between epithelial cells to prevent foreign pathogens getting in and out to cause issues.
For all of these reasons, if you are struggling to consume enough high quality fruits, vegetables and fibre in your diet, a high quality greens powder will be an invaluable supplement to support immunity, as well reduce the risk of wasting or perishing fruits and vegetables. Chocotrients is the closest thing to a greens powder we offer ourselves, putting 20 servings of fruit and vegetables in every serving, and offering an indulgent chocolate hit at the same time.