Nutrition for Caregivers: Nutrition and the Immune System

by Lacy Ngo MS, RDN

It’s cold, flu, and virus season, and you are caring for your loved one. You may be thinking to yourself, “I don’t catch something right now. Is there anything I can do to help my immune system?”

The answer…

Well, while there is no one magic food or nutrient that can prevent bacterial or viral infections, including Covid-19, there are nutrients that can support your immune system. Moreover, if we become deficient and even marginally deficient in a nutrient, especially a nutrient involved in the immune system, our immune system will not function properly.

With that being said, let’s look at the best “Eating to Support the Immune System” Tips:

Eating to Support the Immune System
  1. Eat antioxidant-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, green tea, dark chocolate, and olive oil.
    -Research has shown that antioxidants significantly improve certain immune responses.
  2. Eat foods rich in vitamin D, zinc, and vitamin C.
    -Did you know that people with low vitamin D levels are more susceptible to colds, flus, and respiratory infections? Salmon and free-range eggs are a good source of vitamin D.
    -Some research suggests that zinc may shorten the duration of colds by 33-40%. You can find zinc in meats, poultry, whole grains, nuts, and beans.
    -Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, red and green peppers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
  3. Add herbs and spices like fresh garlic, turmeric (with black pepper), ginger, cinnamon, rosemary, and thyme to your meals.
    -Studies show that these herbs contain immune-supportive antioxidants and may have some antiviral and antibacterial properties.
  4. Eat foods that contain probiotics, prebiotics, and fiber to support gut health.
    -Probiotic-rich foods include yogurt, sour kraut, kombucha, and kimchi.
  5. Limit refined carbohydrates, fried foods, trans fat, sugar, alcohol, ultra-processed foods, and vegetable oils.
  6. Focus on getting nutrients from foods. Check with your doctor before adding supplements.
Want to Learn More about Immune Support Foods?

You can find a comprehensive guide to nutrition and the immune system here.

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