With schools back in session and more and more individuals headed back to in-office work, we’re needing to be sure we have immunity boosting foods in our diet to build a strong defense for our health and wellness. While we know that what we put into our body directly impacts how we feel, often convenience takes over the desire for a healthy lifestyle.
But, in 2021 and beyond, we must hone in on what our bodies need and care for them as best as we can.
And it all starts with our diet and immune boosting foods.
The Right Immune Boost
You may be thinking — I eat mostly at home. I exercise a few times a week. I’m really ok.
We’re firm believers in vitamin supplements because most Americans are not getting their nutritional needs met through their diet. That being said, always check with your health care provider to check for medicine interactions or other issues.
Some vitamins and minerals to hone in on for supplementation are:
Vitamin D. Adults can take 2-3,000 IUs for regular maintenance in the fall.
Magnesium. Young adults need 400 mg (men) and 310 mg (women); adults 31 years + need 420 mg (men) and 320 mg (women).
B12 (Cyanocobalamin).The recommended daily amount of vitamin B-12 for adults is 2.4 micrograms.
Iodine. Adults are recommended to take 150 mcg. Pregnant women are recommended to take 220 mcg, and breastfeeding women need 290 mcg.
Zinc. Zinc is not stored in the body and so you need to replenish your stores every day! Adult women need 8mg while men need 11mg, pregnant women need 11mg, and breastfeeding women need 12mg.
Iron. Women 19-50 need 8mg per day; pregnant women need 27 mg a day, and breastfeeding women need 9 mg per day.
Calcium. When starting a calcium supplement, you should start at 200-300 milligrams daily and work your way up to your recommended dose. Adults should get 1,000mg of calcium from foods and supplements every day, and that number goes higher as you age.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Most people need 250-500 mg of EPA/DHA every day. You can get that through fish oil supplements or by eating fish twice a week.
Best vitamins, minerals, and foods for your immune system
If you asked your grandparents who have lived to be in their 80s and 90s what their secret is, you’d find that they ate a wide range of diverse immunity boosting foods.
From eating vegetables preserved with fermentation to eating freshly butchered meats, to drinking a cup of coffee every day, there is some old-fashioned wisdom that now has the science to back it up! Some of the best vitamins and minerals to strengthen your immune system and their food sources are —
Vitamin B12: meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs Vitamin C: broccoli, leaf greens (turnip, beets, collards, kale), cauliflower, citruses (grapefruit, oranges, and lemons), strawberries, bell peppers
Vitamin D: Get some good sunshine!
Vitamin E: almonds, leafy greens (turnip, beets, collards, kale), peanuts, sunflower seeds, and avocados Beta-carotene and lycopene: carrots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, pumpkin and winter squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and oranges
Selenium: Fish, brazil nuts, barley, brown rice, and poultry
Manganese: Whole grains, nuts, soybeans, and clams, oysters, and mussels
Zinc: oysters, beef, poultry, shrimp, lentils, chickpeas, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds
Glutathione: cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts), asparagus, spinach, potatoes, peppers, carrots, avocados, and squash
Phenolic compounds: apples, red wine, tea, cocoa, berries, onions, red and white grapes, peanuts, etc.
Prebiotics — High fiber foods that feed good bacteria; these include foods like whole grains, bananas, onions and garlic, and greens.
Probiotics — Naturally fermented foods including sauerkraut, pickles, yogurt, miso, sourdough, etc.
Postbiotics — Foods that slowly metabolize include foods like sweet potatoes, whole grains, beans and legumes.
Antioxidants — Foods that tame “free radicals,” chemicals that can damage your DNA. These include foods high in Vitamins C + E, beta-carotene, selenium, manganese, and glutathione. Think your green veggies, berries, and citruses! And thank you coffee for your high antioxidant levels!
Polyphenols — These “reducing agents,” coupled with the other vitamins make Pomegranates, extra virgin olive oil, flaxseeds, and grapes their amazing health benefits!
If you’re wondering what to eat when you have covid or to ward off illnesses, it’s the same principles that we’ve known before when fighting off the flu.
Some chicken soup with garlic, bone broth, veggies, and fruits can help your immune response work like it should. Stock up on all the nutrient-dense foods that contain the above vitamins, be sure you prepare foods that you can tolerate, and be sure to drink plenty of water.*
Signs of a strong immune system
It can be hard to tell how good your immune system is – but the best look in is whether or not you get sick very often! If you rarely feel under the weather, your wounds heal well, you have energy, and you are regular vs. having digestive upset, you most likely are getting what you need and have a healthy immune system to fight off infection.
Whenever you feel stress, have not been able to be outdoors very much, have frequent infections, are struggling with digestive issues, or feel unusually tired, try to up your nutritional intake with immunity boosting foods, prioritize sleep, use de-stressing techniques, and cut out processed sugar as much as possible! It’s amazing what the body can do when we provide it with what it needs.
* None of this advice is intended to serve as medical advice. We want to be sure you know that no vitamin or supplement can cure Covid-19, nor does the FDA approve the use of vitamins or supplements to treat illness. We suggest that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using supplements or herbal products, if you are pregnant, nursing, or are taking any medications. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.