Sunday, March 22, 2020

Diet Tips to Boost Your Immune System

Everyone seems to be talking about how to boost their immune system.  On the radio today a doctor recommended getting enough sleep, boost your immune system with vitamin C by drinking a glass of Orange Juice [be sure it is real juice and not a juice drink like Sunny D] and adding foods rich in zinc.  Zinc has been an especially hot topic on social media this week.  My sister sent me an article on boosting your immune system through diet.  A colleague in the United Kingdom at Movement & Nutrition posted about diet myths during this coronavirus crises.  
Add some zinc rich foods to boost your immune system.
  1. Lisa Ballehr advises you to “eat the rainbow”.  I teach my students USDA’s recommendation to EAT 5 A DAY, at least 5 fruits and veggies every day.  When my students do their 24-hour diet recall it is surprising how few students get anywhere near 5 A DAY.  Their only vegetable is often French Fries and the “juice” isn’t juice but lemonade or a juice drink like Sunny D.  Real juice, real fruit and veggies offer loads of vitamins like Vitamin A, Beta-Carotene, C, and B-6.  “Eat the rainbow” means vary the colors.  Each color of a fruit and vegetable offers different “antioxidants”, important substances that actually help our cells stay healthy.   
  2.  Zinc – why all the focus on the mineral, zinc?  The National Institutes of Health notes, “Zinc is known to play a central role in the immune system, and zinc-deficient persons experience increased susceptibility to a variety of pathogens.”  Not specific to coronavirus but the virus is clearly a pathogen.  Getting zinc from foods is much better than going out and buying a supplement. 
  3. Other minerals – zinc isn’t the only mineral helpful to your immune system.  But one can understand why as The British Nutrition Foundation notes that zinc:  “helps produce new immune cells, helps develop ‘natural killer cells’ that help to fight off viruses”.  Who doesn’t want this extra boost to our immune systems right now?  Copper, iron, selenium are other minerals needed to fight off infections.  The British Nutrition Foundation also states:  Copper “helps to protect and fuel immune cells” – a most important function.  Iron: “helps maintain the health of immune cells”, and selenium “helps produce new immune cells and can help to strengthen response to infection”. 
  4. Protein – one of the many functions of protein is to build antibodies – the things that fight off infections.  So easy not only to get protein in our diets but to get high quality protein.  All animal proteins are high quality with the gold star going to eggs.  Real cow’s milk is next, as it offers a high quality protein.  Not true of Almond milk which is low in protein.  And, of course, meat - any meat.  Eating meat, fish, poultry will not only add high quality protein to your day but also the iron that is good for fighting infections.
  5.  Probiotics – are you still eating the real dairy yogurt every day?  Good idea as the probiotics in yogurt help restore the good bacteria in your gut.  And then “feed” these bacteria with fiber rich foods – the fruits and veggies, whole grains. 
  6. Not a food – but EXERCISE.  Insider notes:  “According to a 2019 study , exercise has a multitude of benefits including decreasing inflammation and improving immune regulation..”  
How to Add Some Immune Boosting Nutrients to Your Day (Adapted from:  British Nutrition Foundation)

Food or Function
Foods To Eat
Vitamin A/Beta Carotene
Look for dark green and dark orange fruit and veggies.
Cantaloupe, carrots, pumpkin, apricots, real milk, sweet potato, spinach, kale, papaya.
Vitamin B-6
Some fruits and veggies.  Removed when they make white bread so focus on whole grains.

Any General Mills cereal, poultry, fish and ground beef.  Eggs, bananas, avocado, green pepper.  Tomato juice, watermelon.
Vitamin C
Strengthens immune cells to attack virus, helps skin to keep a barrier to infections.
Citrus fruits, real citrus juice, strawberries, watermelon, peppers, tomatoes, tomato juice, broccoli, kiwi, Brussels sprouts.
A deficiency can lead to an increase in susceptibility to infection.
Whole grain breads, any General Mills cereal, brown rice, quinoa, seafood, beans, nuts, dried fruit, seeds.

Keeps immune cells healthy.
Meat, fish, poultry especially good sources.  Clams, dried fruit, whole grain bread, quinoa, parsley.
Helps your body produce new immune cells, develops those “natural killer” cells.
Meat and seafood – meat, poultry, crab, mussels.  Nuts and seeds.  Any General Mills breakfast cereal.  Whole grain bread. 

The British Nutrition Foundation recommends forgetting the supplements and relying on real foods to boost your immune system.  Maybe instead of TP flying off the shelves, we will see General Mills cereals in high demand or Dave’s Killer bread in short supply at Costco as Dave’s Killer Bread is not only is whole grain but has those healthy seeds.  

Sources:  immune, Movement & Nutrition, diet myths, Ballehr, cells, Health, Foundation, states, Insider,  2019 study , Nutrients, from, deficiency    Image Sources:  bread   , Zinc, Protein  

No comments:

Post a Comment