Today I received a phone call from a friend of mine. She’s a trainer, a hardcore athlete and a go go go kind of person. She said “Holly, I keep getting sick yet I’m usually so healthy, what gives?” Well it got me thinking about how hard intense training can be on our immune system, so I asked her what she was doing to boost it. Her answer didn’t surprise me. She listed off diet and nutrients she was adding into her life thinking it was enough but she forgot one key factor… hardcore training needs hardcore supplementation. Time to get serious about her supplements 

Let’s talk food-based supplements (my favourite kind). I’m a fan of course of high quality probiotics like these ones, making sure you have adequate stomach acid and all the other basic foundational work, but sometimes the foundational work needs a little support. This is where I like to add in chlorella.

Before you turn up your nose at this green algae let me tell you a few fun facts. It’s seriously nutrient dense, it’s actually a nutrient POWERHOUSE. It’s a type of chlorophyll that grows in fresh water, on it’s own the human body can’t break down the cell wall which is why we need to consume it in supplement form (pills or powder).  It’s a complete protein, yup it contains ALL the essential amino acids and packs a serious punch when it comes to iron content and even vitamin C (important for supporting our adrenals, another key element for those who train hard).  It’s also got some Omega 3’s in it!

So what has this got to do with immunity? Studies show that chlorella has the ability to boost the body’s innate immunity, that is what we like to refer to as the body’s first line of defence. So when your immunity is compromised you want to boost this one asap, especially when you are in the gym where viruses and germs are running rampant.  

How much of this glorious greenness should you be taking? 3g twice a day (I prefer capsule form during meals) seems to be the recommended dosage for 2-4 weeks prior to a training peak according certain studies floating around. This is great prep for an athlete training for a competition or for someone going into intense finals in sports. If you happen to be someone who is into HIIT training it may be something you keep as a standard part of your day to day regime. 

Since secretory IgA is the body’s first line of defense it stands to reason that since intense training reduces this and chlorella increases it, it should be a no brainer to add this into your supplemental regime. There are a few studies, one out of Japan and others in the US, but more research could definitely be done to see just how far this little green capsule can go. For now I keep it on hand for hangover prevention (yup it’s pretty awesome for that), it’s in my heavy metal arsenal and now to help my immune system kick back if I accidentally overtrain. OK who am I kidding, I’m not overtraining so I will likely save that aspect for my awesome partner in crime (Ashley Mathieu Fitness) for when she decides to step back into the ring. 


European Journal of Nutrition

Related excerpts for athletes, and probiotics here, or risk of upper respiratory infections in athletes, and here

4 weeks trial for chlorella in athletes,