Shopping for Optimum Immune Health

March 12, 2020

Shopping for Optimum Immune Health

As more concern grows over the spread of coronavirus, here are some suggestions to offer shoppers to help eat for a healthy immune system.

As concerns grow over the spread of COVID-19, your shoppers may be more than ever looking for foods and supplements that boost their immune systems. Studies have historically shown that our diet, just like every part of our body, the immune system functions more effectively with healthy food and lifestyle choices. Here are some suggestions for everyone to consider during this situation and also incorporate in to your general overall health and wellness programs.

Vitamin C is believed to do wonders in improving the immune system. Building a strong immune system is one of the best defenses against seasonal allergies and colds and flus, and can be done by picking up a few things at your local supermarket packed with this potent antioxidant.

The richest sources of vitamin C are sweet peppers, black currants, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, and turnip greens. Vitamin C is heat sensitive so the longer you cook veggies, the more the vitamin decreases; raw, fresh vegetables contain the most. The faster the cooking method the better! Other prime sources for vitamin C include papayas and mangoes, pineapple, strawberries, citrus fruits, kiwi, cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon. Other vegetables high in vitamin C are okra, squash, cabbage, dark leafy greens, cauliflower, peas, sweet potatoes, and asparagus.

It seems like everyday researchers are finding that vitamin D plays a role in almost every aspect of human metabolism. Research has suggested that vitamin D may aid in the reduction and protection from adverse cardiovascular events, hypertension, cancer, asthma, the insulin response, and several autoimmune diseases by modulating neuromuscular and immune function and helping to reduce inflammation. Vitamin D also helps control the cell life cycle keeping good cells and getting rid of cells that are no longer necessary. Vitamin D's most well known role in the body is to aid in the absorption and regulation of calcium; deficiency can result in a variety of bone disorders including rickets, osteomalacia, and osteoporosis which currently affects over 10 million Americans over age 50. Like all vitamins and minerals, vitamin D is important in maintaining optimal health.

To what foods should you send your shoppers for vitamin D? Few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, shrimp and fish liver oils are the best sources. Vitamin D can also be found in small amounts in beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, butter, and some mushrooms including shitake and portabello (Dole Foods). Other foods have been fortified with vitamin D, thus do not naturally contain the vitamin, and include milk (cow, soy and rice) and some brands of orange juice, margarine, and yogurt. Breakfast cereals often contain around 10 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin D as well (but if consuming with fat free milk, vitamin D - a fat soluble vitamin - is less likely to be absorbed). The Food and Drug Administration recommends at least 400 IU of vitamin D daily and up to about 2,000 IU is considered safe.  

Zinc is necessary for optimum immune function, boosting immunity, and creates new cells, which allow optimal collagen production and wound healing. What foods contain Zinc? Animal foods such as liver, beef, eggs, oysters, lamb, scallops, yogurt, and crab are rich in zinc. Plant foods such as wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, oats and sesame seeds are also rich in zinc.

In addition, health experts recommend eating a well-balanced diet with fruits and vegetables, making sure you get enough sleep, reducing stress and limiting alcohol consumption.