• By Talia Follador
  • In Uncategorized
  • January 5, 2021

Can Nutrition Provide an Opportunity to support your Immunity? 

By Leslie Bonci, MPH,RDN,CSSD,LDN

The onset of cold and flu season presents a not-to-miss opportunity to consume foods that help to support your immunity. The physiological support of the immune systems is best achieved with dietary strategies that include optimizing calories, carbohydrate and protein intake as well vitamins and minerals. Fiber-containing foods, prebiotics and probiotics help to give your microbiome a healthy home. And food sources of vitamins and minerals provide the micros, but also the hydros (fluid) and the phytos (plant nutrients).  

Many micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are essential to proper immune functioning and include:

  • Zinc- a deficiency is associated with immunosuppression
  • Vitamin C- important for the essential functioning of white blood cells
  • Vitamin D- essential in both innate and acquired immune function
  • Omega-3 fatty acids may be related to maintaining the integrity of the intestinal barrier

Do keep in mind that the goal is immune support. Immune boosting is a marketing term. The immune system can only be boosted if one has an underlying nutrient deficiency or underlying disease/pharmacotherapy that can contribute to immunosuppression. 

Take advantage of the #wealthontheshelf to support your immune health. Control what you can with your food and supplement plan. Here are some foods to add to your list. 

IMMUNE SUPPORTING SHOPPING LIST

FIBER CONTAINING CARBOHYDRATES

  • High fiber cereals
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Edamame
  • Potatoes
  • Quinoa

PROTEIN

  • Dairy foods
  • Lean meats
  • Poultry
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Soy foods
  • Beans/peas/lentils
  • Nuts/nut butters
  • Seeds/seed butter

PREBIOTICS

  • Asparagus
  • Barley
  • Banana
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Wheat

PROBIOTICS

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir (fermented dairy drink)
  • Sauerkraut (refrigerated)
  • Pickles (refrigerated)
  • Kimchi (refrigerated)
  • Tempeh
  • Miso

OMEGA-3s

  • Chia seeds
  • Atlantic salmon- wild and farmed
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Trout
  • Shrimp
  • Canned tuna
  • Flaxseed oil

VITAMIN C

  • Citrus fruits/juices
  • Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Strawberries

ZINC

  • Oysters
  • Meat
  • Shellfish
  • Baked beans
  • Fortified Breakfast cereals
  • Poultry

VITAMIN D

  • Ready to eat cereals
  • Rainbow trout
  • Sockeye salmon
  • Mushrooms, white exposed to UV light
  • Plant-based milk
  • Milk

BOTTOM LINE

Proper nutrition and specific nutrients can protect and support different components of the immune system. Remember overall wellbeing starts in the kitchen but can be supplemented to optimize your nutrition. And do practice proper hygiene strategies, food safety, wearing a mask and safe distancing to minimize your risk of getting sick. Being preventative and proactive can make you aware and help you take good care of yourself and others.

Leslie Bonci, MPH,RDN,CSSD,LDN is the owner of Active Eating Advice by Leslie Bonci.