4 ‘secret’ muscle and immune supporting foods

Sometimes we only think about protein and carbs for building muscle. After all, they supply building blocks and energy, what more could you need? 

My early days learning the iron game started age 12 when we ventured into Nelson's Gym in Leamington Spa. Training and dietary advice were aplenty. Randolph Turpin trained there and I've written about him here

Anyway, some of the 'secrets' which were not really that secret are below and one or two things that might help you indirectly with recovery and muscle gaining. They also happen to be very good things for general health and wellbeing. This falls firmly in my nutrition philosophy camp. I love things that are healthy which also assist performance. It's a bonus if they taste nice too.


#1. Colostrum

The first milk from a mother to baby contains as you’d expect some excellent nutritional factors. 

The baby gets its first immune protection from this milk and studies have found the presence of the mother’s colostrum in grown adult intestines – high levels of immune and growth factors are now proven to transfer the same properties into the human adult when they consume cow’s colostrum. This is known as transfer factor. You can immunize humans when they drink hyper immunised colostrum from a cow that has been vaccinated against a disease….maybe a different way to achieve immunization to these pandemic diseases emerging these days.

A couple of tips from the top, if using a larger dose of 20-60g daily for a proper anabolic boost buy low lactose as lactose intolerance is quite common these days – plus you don’t want to pay for the additional sugars. If it’s just for a small immune boost even a teaspoon dissolved in the mouth can add valuable immune support post training when the immune system is suppressed and picking up bugs is more likely.

In the recent* outbreak of swine and bird flu China virtually bought up the entire world stock of colostrum and when you look at the sheer weight of references and information available to support its use for immune function, you’d be mad not to have some in your immune cupboard to keep yourself and your family well. Plus, you might get a few more lbs of muscle if you use it regularly as part of a muscle-building diet programme.

I get my colostrum from neovite.com


#2. Sardines

When I was a kid my mate was mad keen on body building – a guy at the gym had told him he’d got to eat special as he was different due to his training and all. 

The secret pump mad dude used to sneak off home for lunch every day – me being curious about training and nutrition from an early age tagged along with him one day keen to find out what this muscle-building secret was. 

I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed to find him grilling some smelly sardines to have on toast – but later in life, I knew there were some facts to his fishy wisdom. =

Sardines contain good protein, massive levels of omega 3, bio-available calcium and decent levels of vitamin D too – so all in all they still are a little powder house of protein-packed goodness. Just don’t eat them in a crowded office unless everyone else is tucking in too.

Don’t like fish? Visit  www.aminoman.com for Omega 1400 fish oils and Multi-Vitamins for a B12 hit. Or just learn to love the fish + top up on supplements on days you don’t eat fish.

#3. Cocoa and adaptogens and cordyceps

The benefits of raw natural cocoa are truly startling. So, what you get with Amber Aminos – is raw organic cocoa and a proper dosed serving of special adaptogens, plus tons of added active ingredients which have been shown to potentially increase immune function, deep sleep and reduce cortisol release.

Plus, it tastes good too. Mixing a ½ teaspoon of glycine in there adds additional sweetness and an amino which assists liver detox and collagen formation – not bad for an afternoon or evening hot choccy 

I mix this with some manuka honey and a milk of your choice. Makes a delicious way to unwind relax and enjoy the potential health benefits of all the ingredients.

I make a lovely hot chocolate drink called Amber Aminos (currently Buy One Get One Free when you spend over £50) 

My Immune Power formula also contains cordyceps. 

Further reading:

Pharmacological and therapeutic potential of Cordyceps with special reference to Cordycepin

Can drinking cocoa protect your heart when you're stressed?

#4. Probiotics

Frequently neglected and pandemically deficient – healthy bowel flora will do more than just regulate your immune function. 

These little critters manufacture energy, b vitamins and help with neurotransmitter development – you literally will feel and behave better with the right balance of microflora. 

More than that they help with inflammation in the gut and keeping cholesterol in balance. Most people think they are what they eat but you are what you digest and absorb!

The tip for these though is you need a lot to do any good – I normally use a 25 billion active tablet and take 4-6 every day for 2 weeks periodically. They get destroyed through long-haul flights, stress, stomach bugs and diarrhea – each time this happens top them up with a decent supplement.

Pre-biotics and fermented foods are an excellent way to keep your digestive helpers happy. These include fibres such as inulin leeks, asparagus, onions, wheat, garlic, chicory, oats, soybeans, and Jerusalem artichokes.

Some of my favourite weekly fermented foods include homemade coleslaw + apple cider vinegar, kimchi, fish sauce (really a game-changer for Thai cooking) omit at your own expense. You’ve always got yoghurts, sourdough and other nice foods for digestion to draw upon too.

Miso soup makes a great snack or addition to sauces adding the key umami taste. Any pickled vegetables ideally home-made will also add to digestive health and wellness

I add inulin and probiotics to many of my formulas for digestive health along with digestive enzymes in the protein formulas. Many clients report easier digestion of the whey protein for this reason.