That's it: we're officially in the middle of sanitize-your-hands, pack-your-spare-tissues, cough-into-your-elbow season. You know, the time of year when everyone and their mother (literally) is sneezing, blowing their nose, and in general feeling a bit blah.
Colds, flu, pneumonia—ain't nobody got time for that. If you want to keep your immune system large and in charge at all times of the year (and especially now), consider adding a few supplements to your daily routine.
Which ones should you choose? To save you time and money (and spare you the headache of scrolling through page after page on Amazon), we're highlighting some of my top picks—starting with an innovative immune-modulating supplement called Moducare® this one is the top choice for immune support!
Immune Enhancing 101: The Benefits of Moducare®
Dr. Jim LaValle is a metabolic health specialist, board-certified clinical nutritionist, and clinical pharmacist who's talked a lot about the importance of immune modulation when it comes to promoting increased immunity. Note that immune modulation is a bit different than immune boosting, though we want both for a stronger immune system.
As Dr. LaValle puts it, supplements which modulate your immune system help re-establish, and then strengthen, an appropriate immune system response. Compare this to products which are considered immune boosting—if a "boost" is given to an uncorrected and faulty system (e.g., an immune system that's been thrown out of whack by chronic stress, sugar, and other toxins), then you may end up only accentuating a busted or abnormal immune response. So while "immune-boosting" supplements DO have their place, you want to make sure you're doing what you can to modulate and restore normal immune function, as well.
Enter Moducare®. This patented supplement contains phytosterols and phytosterolins—plant fat compounds naturally found in things like fruits and veggies. These sterols and sterolins enhance proper immune cell activation so that your immune cells can do what they do best—protect and fight against harmful germs and foreign invaders.
Specifically, research has found that Moducare®:
- Restores the balance between T-helper 1 to T-helper 2 cells (key players in your adaptive immunity)
- Modulates the stress response, and
- Reduces immune system hyper-reactivity (an over-the-type response seen in conditions like allergies and autoimmune disorders)
Moducare® also improves the ratio between two hormones, cortisol, and DHEA. This is critical because when your cortisol-to-DHEA ratio is elevated, your body's ability to produce antibody-creating immune cells is suppressed. And in at least one double-blinded placebo-controlled study, subjects taking Moducare® were found to have healthier immune systems compared to the placebo group, thanks to the supplement's ability to minimize the rise in stress hormones in response to exercise.
To learn more about Moducare®, visit kyolic.com.
Additional Supplements to Include in Your Immune-Boosting Rotation
Taken intermittently throughout the cold and flu season, probiotics "top up" your gut microbiota and make sure you have a diverse and healthy population of friendly bacteria living in your GI tract. This really matters, because your gut microbiome and immune system are so closely linked that the bacteria living there have been called the "forgotten organ." Turns out these little bacteria aren't a bunch of freeloaders living inside your intestines and gorging on your food—they actually help your body metabolize and absorb nutrients, reduce inflammation, and most notably enhance your immune system.
Look for a high-quality product that provides at least 1 billion colony forming units (CFU) per day, although some people opt to take as much as 10 billion CFU or more.
Fish oil—particularly the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA found within it—is known as a potent anti-inflammatory that does everything from boost your immune health to lower the risk of heart disease. This supplement is a biggie—aim for at least 1,000 milligrams of EPA + DHA per day.
Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract
Garlic has long been known as a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Research shows it can improve heart health and even reduce the risk of certain ailments like diabetes, stomach cancer, and osteoarthritis. Aged garlic extract has also been shown to promote increased biodiversity in the bacteria living in your gut, which as we've seen supports a healthy immune system.
A recommended dose based on the literature is around 600 milligrams per day.
Research has found that children taking supplemental Vitamin D3—an essential vitamin for bone health, brain health, cardiovascular health, and gut health—have a 40% reduced risk of falling ill with the flu. According to the U.S. Institutes of Medicine (IOM), the recommended daily dose is around 800 international units (IU) for adults, but research indicates that anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 IU per day is safe and beneficial.
Both animal and human studies have found that supplementing with this mineral can boost immune system function thanks in part to maximizing antioxidant capacity. Magnesium has also been found to help you sleep, which is important for keeping your immune system functioning properly.
Most adults should aim for 150 to 350 milligrams per day. Magnesium citrate is a readily bio-available form of this mineral, but just be aware that it can induce a laxative effect—so introduce slowly.
Question: does your kitchen counter have to look like a mini-pharmacy every morning as you're taking your supplements this cold and flu season?
Answer: not necessarily, especially if you commit to maintaining healthy habits that naturally support and optimize immune function. We're talking the biggies, like getting enough quality sleep, exercising, staying well-hydrated, and minimizing/eliminating dairy, sugar, gluten, and alcohol from your diet. And it's worth remembering that supplements are never a replacement for sound lifestyle choices, especially regarding your nutrition and activity level.
BUT the right supplements can be powerful health enhancers (and sometimes necessary) which will give you the extra BOOST of badassery you need to avoid falling ill—or at least recover faster from illness in the event that some germs do find their way into your body. And while we've gone over the tried and true supplements that have worked for us, you ultimately need to do some trial and error to find which brands and supplements work best for you.
Just please do us a solid and chat with your doc before starting or stopping any new supplements, especially if you're taking any medications or dealing with a chronic illness, okay? K thanks.