Immune Promoting Nutrition
by Manya Arora, BSc Nutritional Sciences and Tenille Sonnichsen, RD
Do you wonder how your nutrition can help optimize your immune system?
Whether you are trying to avoid succumbing to the common cold, flu or COVID-19, you can optimize your immune system through your nutrition!
SOME BASICS ABOUT IMMUNITY
COVID-19 can spread via respiratory droplets, contaminated surfaces, and possibly fecal-oral routes. As we know, regular hand washing, avoiding touching your mouth, eyes, and nose, and avoiding unnecessary physical interactions are all ways you can support your immune system.
Immunity is your body’s ability to maintain health by resisting infection or toxins. There are two main levels of immunity: the INNATE immune system and the ADAPTIVE immune system.
The INNATE IMMUNE SYSTEM, with which we are born is composed of the skin, chemicals in the blood, and good bacteria. It is the first line of defense that helps fight off “invaders” including harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi.
The ADAPTIVE IMMUNE SYSTEM, is an acquired system that takes time to build. It is capable of remembering specific “invaders” which allows it to quickly fight against each “invader” it has encountered before. This is the basis of how vaccines work to support your immunity.
Who is at Risk?
Many studies have shown that nutrient deficiencies impair immune function. As you age, your immune function may become less effective, making it important to eat immune-supporting foods. Underlying chronic diseases such as obesity, asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes increase the risk for susceptibility to illness, including COVID-19.
How can nutrition help your immune system?
Research shows that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables supports the immune system, which may help prevent the decline of immunity with age. Nutrients of particular importance for immune function include Vitamins A, C, D, E, B2, B6, and B12, folic acid, iron, selenium, and zinc.
Nutrition Tips to include Immune Promoting Nutrients:
Each day include:
Two types of non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, cauliflower, spinach, peppers, and salad greens
Whole grains and starches such as whole grain bread, tortillas or rolls, wild or brown rice, whole grain crackers, quinoa, barley, spelt, bulgur, low sugar cereal, and starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, and winter squash
2-3+ Fruits: can be raw or cooked, frozen or canned
Beans and lentils are reliable and affordable protein sources
Enjoy low-fat or skim milk, no-sugar-added yogurt, or a fortified soy beverage
What are two or three ways you can increase your immune promoting nutrition?
Want to learn more about how to include immune-promoting vitamins and minerals? Get on the fast track to achieving your goals with the perspective and accountability of a Registered Dietitian today.
Yours in health,
Quinoa and Wheat Berry Salad
3 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
2 cups cooked and cooled wheat berries
about 2 cups chopped green beans, lightly blanched
3 cups (loosely packed) baby kale leaves
3/4 cup diced red pepper
1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons golden balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, mix together quinoa, wheat berries, green beans, baby kale, red pepper, and dried cranberries. In a small jar or measuring cup, mix together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. Shake or whisk until combined. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Pour dressing over salad ingredients and stir until everything is coated with dressing. Serve immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.
NUTRITION FACTS FOR QUINOA AND WHEAT BERRY SALAD
SERVING SIZE: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving:
TOTAL FAT 8g
SATURATED FAT 1g