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    How An Immunologist Fights A Cold

    How An Immunologist Fights A Cold
    3 November 2022 Stephanie Drax
    Dr Jenna Macciochi immunologist on lactoferrin

    How An Immunologist Fights A Cold

    Dr Jenna Macciochi is a leading immunologist and author with over 20 years of experience researching the impact of lifestyle on the immune system in health and disease. She explains why lactoferrin is such a vital part of our immune system, and that Leapfrog IMMUNE – a chewable combination of lactoferrin, zinc, and vitamin C – is the must-have supplement in every medicine tool kit. 

    Lactoferrin is an amazing natural product that our immune system produces…
    I teach immunology at the University of Sussex so I tell students about it when I’m introducing them to the immune system and I’ve always been fascinated by how to exploit that science and apply it to myself. That’s why finding Leapfrog IMMUNE was a bit of a revelation because there’s not really anything like it on the market. You can find lactoferrin sources, but it’s a tricky extraction process and you want to make sure you have a very clean product and transparency. We’re in the autumn now, it’s rampant cold and flu season and obviously, Covid’s still hanging around, and lactoferrin is a hero ingredient.

    Lactoferrin is a protein that our body produces naturally…
    It’s a key part of our immune system, which includes not just the white blood cells but the body barriers too – these are the cells that make up the physical barriers that are part of our immune system. They are the first barrier against things getting into our bodies that could cause us harm. Lactoferrin is produced by exocrine glands so we are secreting it onto these barriers – it’s like a chemical barrier on top of the physical barrier. It’s particularly found in tears, breast milk, in the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby, it’s in our blood, our spinal fluid, and bile in the digestive tract. Certain immune cells will be producing it as well, like neutrophils – these are the first responders that flock to the site of infection when something breaches that physical barrier, like a virus getting into the airways.

    Lactoferrin levels in the Body for immunity

    Lactoferrin is a real multi-tasker in terms of the immune system…
    From the scientific literature, we know that lactoferrin has a whole plethora of different actions. If we think about infection protection – which is obviously at the forefront of our minds as we go into winter – it has been demonstrated to have an anti-microbial function. It can stop bacteria from replicating and it can actually kill them in their tracks – we call it bacteriocidal – and it can also inhibit the entry of viruses into our cells. When viruses infect us they need to get into our cells in order to hijack our DNA replication machinery to make more viruses. So it can stop them from getting into our cells either by blocking the receptors that let them get in or by actually attaching to the virus themselves. So it’s really important in infection protection.

    Lactoferrin is called the Swiss Army Knife of the immune system because it has a lot of different functions…
    It extends into skin health and bone health and gut health, and it also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which are really important for long-term health, well-being, and protection from chronic disease. The snake oil alarm goes off because it’s such a laundry list of amazing things, but my snake oil filter is really high. I talk about the immune system online I have to think hard that I’m not trying to oversell a particular thing because I’m very conscious that I have to be anchored to the science – I have a professional obligation to do that. So I want to reassure people that we are really drawing from what’s in the literature on lactoferrin. Lactoferrin is a natural product and our bodies are producing it naturally – so that’s a good sign that you’re not putting something inside that your body isn’t already producing anyway. You’re just bolstering the effect.

    Lactoferrin is an iron-sequestering protein, scooping up iron that is free in the body…
    You don’t want iron hanging around in your body because it has oxidative properties, so it can be like your body is rusting. Lactoferrin is involved in scooping up that iron and putting it into the right place, so it controls the level of free iron. What that also does is it stops that iron from being available for germs because when you get infected by a germ they actually use our own nutrients to reproduce. The lactoferrin is sequestering that away, and this is what we call ‘nutritional immunity ‘– a way that our body is using our nutrients to block infection. And it also enhances the activity of some of our immune cells as well, so if germs do cross that barrier, it’s going to help our immune cells work better. NK cells – natural killer cells – are specifically anti-viral and anti-cancer, and lactoferrin can bolster their function. It also assists with antibody production and some of the other immune cells that are going to be involved in the response to an infection.

    Lactoferrin is found in the milk of humans and all mammals…
    I’ve been fascinated with breastmilk for quite a while. It’s a tricky subject to talk about, and I know how challenging it can be to breastfeed, but I’d like to separate that from the marvelous science of breast milk in general. Colostrum, the first milk that is produced post-birth, contains really high levels of lactoferrin – it’s about 7 times more than what’s found in the mature breastmilk produced later on. It’s really important – it’s the surrogate immune system of the baby, while the baby’s immune system is not fully developed at birth. You’re in a pretty much sterile environment in utero and then they come out into this germy world. There are germs everywhere – in the air we breathe and every surface we look at – and the baby has to have some way to allow colonization with those helpful microbiome microbes, but differentiate between those and the infectious ones. A baby doesn’t have its full immune system up and running yet, so lactoferrin is going to be coating the digestive tract. The baby is getting lactoferrin from the colostrum in the mother’s milk and it’s helping mature and educate the immune system and protect the baby from infections that could make the baby really sick, particularly in those early years.

    Leapfrog IMMUNE has taken three cornerstones of fighting off infections – zinc, vitamin C, and lactoferrin – and put them into one product…
    The ethos that I’ve always tried to portray is that diet and lifestyle come first; we’re working preventatively and caring for our bodies in the best possible way. So when we hit autumn and winter we want to make sure we’re in a good state. But equally, there’s nothing that can make us invincible, so we have to be savvy with our supplementation. And I think it’s good to have a little medicine box of things to take at the first onset of symptoms. So that would be zinc and vitamin C because when we are fighting an infection our immune system uses more zinc and vitamin C and there is a lot of research that says if you take these things at the onset then that can reduce the duration of colds and flu. And then with Leapfrog IMMUNE, you’re adding in lactoferrin which also has ample clinical studies showing that it’s beneficial for those frequent respiratory infections at this time of year.

    Leapfrog IMMUNE is something I’d have in my medicine cabinet for the inevitable seasonal sniffles that we all get. Wherever you go there are going to be germs and they’re always trying to evade our immune system and get in, and every now and then it will happen. So it’s good to have these products to hand, and know that there is a good safety record. Lactoferrin has an excellent safety profile – it comes out very clean even at high doses, and it’s part of our body, so you are bolstering what we are already producing, which I love.

    I always give Leapfrog IMMUNE to the kids whenever they’re feeling unwell…
    It’s a lifesaver for the school germs that are coming home. IMMUNE is child-friendly – you can’t really get kids to take a giant capsule, and having it as a chewable tablet in the oral cavity is really beneficial. I also use it myself whenever I feel like something’s coming on, even if it’s just because I’m a bit tired and rundown. My husband likes it too, and he likes the citrus taste. He used to buy over-the-counter medicines but it took me a while to convince him that he was just suppressing the symptoms and continuing to go to work and spreading the infection. So it’s been good to replace that with Leapfrog IMMUNE.

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