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Boost Your Immune System...Naturally

Posted by Ryan Whitcomb, RD, CDN
Ryan Whitcomb, RD, CDN
Ryan Whitcomb, RD, CDN is part of the Whitsons team of nutritionists, where he serves as a Registered Dietitia...
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on Monday, 06 January 2014 in Health & Nutrition

 

20025Winter is a season known for many things: blizzards, snow angels, gifts, cold temps, hot chocolate, school closings…and sickness. Not to sound pessimistic, but for many of us, it’s just a matter of time before the coughs, sneezes, chills, runny noses, fevers and sore throats manage to get the best of us. Keeping healthy is important and it isn’t until we fall ill that we realize just how important our immune system is. That pesky thing. Unable to be seen by the naked eye, the immune system never stops working. We may take vacations, but our immune system doesn’t. That said, it’s important to give your immune system exactly what it needs in order to work at peak performance. Exercise, rest and good nutrition are all vital to keeping your defenses working, but being a dietitian, I’ll focus on the latter—food!      

 

There are several nutrients that assist your immune system in fighting off foreign invaders. They are protein, zinc, selenium and vitamins A, C and E. By eating a well-balanced diet, you can ensure adequate intake of all these nutrients and thus, a working immune system.

 

Protein is important because amino acids (which are found in protein foods) form the building blocks of antibodies. Antibodies bind to germs and stop their attack on cells. Animal sources of protein include meat, poultry, seafood, dairy and eggs. Plant sources include beans, peas, nuts, seeds and soy products.

 

Zinc heals wounds and keeps the immune system functioning properly. Cooked oysters, beef, lamb, pork, wheat germ, legumes and milk all contain zinc.

 

Selenium is an antioxidant that works with vitamin E to decrease cell membrane damage and fat oxidation. It is found in walnuts, tuna, herring, beef, poultry and grains.

 

Vitamin A is necessary to keep your skin and tissues healthy, which in turn protects you from infections. Vitamin A is found in carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli and kale, with small amounts found in eggs and milk.

 

Vitamin C is found in white blood cells, which defend us from diseases and foreign materials. Foods high in vitamin C include guava, limes, kiwi, strawberries, oranges, red peppers and raspberries.

 

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that stops free radicals from damaging cell membranes and DNA. You’ll find vitamin E hiding in peanut butter, sunflower seeds, almonds, safflower oil and fortified cereals.

 

Eating right is not a band-aid for a lack of adequate exercise or rest. You need all three to protect yourself from your co-workers constant sneezing. With a little planning, you can give yourself the gift of a healthy immune system and an enjoyable winter.

 

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Ryan Whitcomb, RD, CDN is part of the Whitsons team of nutritionists, where he serves as a Registered Dietitian. Ryan works extensively with the Nutrition and Purchasing Departments, analyzing nutritional content of products and ensuring company-wide compliance with all USDA school food standards. In addition to advising on the new Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) regulations set forth for school, Ryan’s role continues to expand as new projects and nutritional guidelines are implemented.

Comments

Guest
Laura Binder Tuesday, 07 January 2014

Nice job, Ryan! :-)

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Guest Monday, 20 October 2014