With a pandemic in full effect, you may be wondering about other ways to protect yourself besides thorough hand washing and using disinfecting products. Keeping your body as strong as possible through nutrition and exercise is important now more than ever. Here are four tips to keep your immune system top notch.
1. Eat colorful fruits and vegetables. The deeper and richer the color, the more antioxidants that particular fruit or vegetable packs. The thought is that antioxidants may prevent damage to immune cells by neutralizing free radicals – agents in the environment that may damage your cells and reduce your immunity. Having a hard time finding fresh produce? Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables count too! Examples of fruits and vegetables loaded in antioxidants include those that represent the colors of the rainbow such as:
-yellow bell peppers
2. Eat vitamin rich food. Foods that are high in antioxidants are also rich in vitamins. Eating vitamin C rich foods provides your body with more benefits than taking a vitamin C supplement because food provides other vitamins and minerals that a supplement alone may not. Additionally, taking supplements with large doses of vitamin C is a waste of your money because the body will excrete excess vitamin C in the urine. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and plays a role in cartilage development and wound healing. Vitamin C rich foods include:
-green and red bell peppers
3. Eat lean protein. Protein plays a role in the body's immune system, especially for healing and recovery. There are a lot of beans missing from grocery shelves recently, but do you know how to use them? My favorite way to use beans is in what I call a “Power Bowl”. Here is what I include in mine:
-1/2 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice
-1/2-3/4 cup beans (my go-to beans are black beans and/or garbanzo but you can use any kind)
-1/2 of an avocado
-3/4-1 cup sautéed red, yellow and orange bell peppers (I sauté mine in olive oil)
-2 Tbsp salsa ( I like mango salsa)
-1/4 cup shredded cheese
This is one of my favorite meals because it’s quick and easy and packs protein, fiber, monounsaturated fats (the good fats!), vitamin C, calcium and iron. Protein sources such as meat and eggs are pretty limited in grocery stores right now so don’t forget about other protein sources like nuts and nut butters, dried beans, quinoa, soymilk, tofu, tempeh and yogurt.
4. Get your vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased susceptibility to infection. With some counties ordering residents to shelter-in-place it can be hard to get adequate sunshine. Try to get at least 15 minutes of sunshine by sitting on your porch, in your yard or taking a walk while social distancing. It’s also good to breathe in some fresh air!
Stay strong and healthy everyone!
Aftan Bryant, RDN
Mary Purdy, MS, RDN
During this trying time of concern over COVID-19, commonly referred to as coronavirus, recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other state and federal organizations have centered around washing hands, avoiding touching your face, and staying home.
However, not much press has been given to a key concept that dietitians know plenty about when it comes to staying well: tapping into the power of diet (and supplements) to fortify the body’s immune function. RDs have an incredible opportunity to leverage their knowledge and experience and potentially play a vital role in helping to reduce the spread and severity of COVID-19.
As dietitians know, there are numerous dietary and supplemental strategies that can offer support for a more resilient immune system. No matter your place of work, you can offer the following helpful advice to clients.
1. Consume immune-protective herbs and spices. Ginger, garlic, onions, oregano, rosemary, and thyme all have properties that help fight off viruses and harmful bacteria and give the body’s defenses a natural boost. Suggest clients whip up garlicky hummus, sip raw ginger tea, and throw oregano and rosemary into salads and roasted vegetable dishes or even a chickpea/tuna salad. Or go for an all-in-one elixir with my flu buster.
2. Munch on more orange foods. Carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squashes all are rich in beta-carotene, which has been shown to protect lung function and act as a strong defender against less favorable bugs. Beta-carotene also gets converted to vitamin A, which is critical for immune function. Bright-colored fruits and veggies in general offer all kinds of antioxidant protection and bolster the body’s infection-fighting mechanisms.
3. Eat vitamin C–rich foods. Citrus, red peppers, broccoli, and kiwi all are great sources of vitamin C. Suggest clients start their day with a grapefruit or an orange or throw sliced peppers on their sandwich. Studies show that consuming vitamin C can help prevent illness. For extra insurance, I suggest a supplement of 500 mg/day. Recommend clients read supplement labels to look for accompanying flavonoids, which help improve absorption and utilization of this important nutrient.
4. Zap it with zinc. Zinc is key for immune function, and it tends to be lower in those who are older, who take antacids, and in some vegetarians and vegans. Clients can find high amounts of zinc in meat and seafood and in moderate amounts in sunflower and pumpkin seeds. A low-dose supplement of 15-25 mg/day (taken with food) can offer clients an additional immune-system boost. Remind clients that supplement quality matters, and suggest they look for zinc supplements in the form of zinc picolinate, which has been shown to be best absorbed.
5. Pop a fortifying supplement. I swear by elderberry syrup or tinctures. Research shows elderberry can protect against flu and fortify the immune system as well as be an effective treatment for upper respiratory infections. This supplement can be found in natural food stores and even in some drugstores. Trusted brands clients can look for include Sambucol, Gaia, or Garden of Life.
6. Get your vitamin D. At this time of year and for those living in more northern locations, serum levels of this critical vitamin can decline. Vitamin D is essential for optimal immune function and has been shown to help address respiratory infections. Supplementing is an easy way to get 1,000 IU/day, a safe amount for most people and one shown to raise low serum vitamin D levels (ie, those below 30 ng/mL). Vitamin D also can be found in mushrooms, fatty fish, and eggs.
7. Give the magic of mushrooms a try. These fungal gems can offer an excellent boost to the immune system and provide some food (in the form of beta glucans) for beneficial gut bacteria, which help fend off infection. Suggest clients toss them into salads, stir-frys, and soups or, if mushroom ain’t their thang, there’s a supplement for that. My personal fave: MyCommunity, a collection of different mushrooms for immune support in a simple capsule.
8. Minimize alcohol, sugar, and processed foods. Not only can the consumption of these foods increase the risk of suppressing the immune system, but eating them often means that healthful and supportive nutrients are displaced. Getting clients and patients to focus on a whole foods diet instead of heavily processed foods and try a seltzer with a splash of juice or a few drops of bitters instead of a cocktail can be helpful advice.
Think dietitians can’t also be superheroes in the COVID-19 outbreak? Just watch us!
— Mary Purdy, MS, RDN, serves as adjunct faculty at Bastyr University where she earned her master’s degree. She has provided clinical nutrition counseling for the past 12 years, hosts the podcast Mary’s Nutrition Show, and speaks regularly at a variety of conferences.
reprinted from: https://rdlounge.com/2020/03/06/8-ways-to-boost-immunity/
What are Registered Dietitians Nutritionists?
You may have started to notice that the Nutrition Facts Label, found on the back of food packaging, appears different. That’s because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published new rules for the label back in 2016. These rules are finally coming into effect. All food manufactures must change their label by January of 2021. This is the biggest makeover since the Nutrition Facts Label’s inception in 1993.
What are some of the new changes?
Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label
FDA New and Improved Nutrition Facts Label
Side-By-Side Comparison of New vs. Old Label
Gabrielle Vandergriff, RDN
Recipe of the Week - Drop the Beet 😊
Beet and Goat Cheese Quinoa Salad
1/2 cup dry quinoa
1 cup cold water
1 T olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup cooked, diced beets
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
1. To prepare the quinoa, place in a small to medium saucepan and add water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed.
2. Transfer cooked quinoa to a large bowl and let it cool. Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Toss to coat the quinoa.
3. Add beets and goat cheese and fold into the quinoa mixture. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Nutrient Analysis per serving
Calories: 218; Total fat: 12 g; Sat fat: 5 g; Cholesterol: 27 mg; Sodium: 354 mg; Total carbohydrate: 19 g; Sugars: 3 g; Dietary fiber: 2 g; Protein: 10 g
— Recipe by Jessica Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN, culinary nutrition expert and recipe developer. Find more of her recipes at JessicaLevinson.com.
1. Fuel Your Body throughout the day
Eat three meals and two snacks. Incorporate a source of protein, fat, and carbohydrate to form a balanced meal so that your blood sugar remains stable. Optimally, you will eat every 3-4 hours. If you wait longer than 4 hours to eat, your blood sugar may get low, which can cause irritability, anger, and mood swings. When you are starving, you are more likely to overeat at your next meal.
2. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Drink at least 64 ounces of water daily. Of course, if you have a medical condition that limits your water intake, then follow the recommendations of your physician or other healthcare providers. You need adequate water for your body to function correctly. When you are dehydrated, you may become sluggish, irritable, and may affect mood swings. Some people can mistake hunger for thirst and overeat. If you do not like the taste of water, you can add sliced oranges, lemons, or limes for flavor. It's best to choose non-caffeinated beverages. In certain people, caffeine can cause anxiety and a reduced ability to handle stress.
3. Avoid processed, sugary foods.
When you eat high sugar foods, it rapidly creates a spike in your blood sugar. Because simple sugars digest quickly, your blood sugar can plunge back down to being low creating a roller coaster effect, which can manifest itself in swings of energy and mood. Low blood sugar can create a craving for more sweets, which continues the roller coaster cycle of blood sugar of ups and downs.
4. Omega 3 Fatty acids
Omega-3 Fatty acids are essential in the diet. Omega 3 fatty acids have been showed to reduce the symptoms of depression. Fatty fish such as sardines, tuna, and salmon are good sources of omega-3 fats. Plants also contain omega-3 fats such as flaxseeds and avocados. If you are taking blood thinners, consult your physician before adding a fish oil supplement. You can always start with eating foods high in omega-3 fats and contact a dietitian for personalized supplement recommendations.
5. Choose nutrient-dense foods for adequate vitamins and minerals.
Your body requires adequate vitamins and minerals to support the production of energy and neurotransmitters. Without these nutrient building blocks, you may lack sufficient neurotransmitters, which may contribute to low energy and depression. Nutritional deficiencies of iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D3, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, and tyrosine can also lead to low energy and depression.
Iron: Asparagus, bok choy, dark green leafy vegetables (collard greens, turnip greens, spinach, etc.), lentils, red meats, and turmeric.
Calcium: Cheese, yogurt, tofu, sardines, milk, fortified non-dairy milk
Magnesium: Black beans, navy beans, soy, pumpkin seeds, and quinoa
Vitamin D3: Egg yolks, salmon, mackerel, tuna, and fortified foods
Thiamin: Lentils, oat, barley and beans
Riboflavin: Broccoli, cheese, chicken, beef, almonds spinach
Niacin: Meats such as beef, chicken turkey, salmon, sardines, and lamb
Vitamin B6: Tuna, turkey, salmon, sardines, beef, chicken, lamb
Folate: Dark green leafy vegetables, lentils, broccoli and beans
Vitamin B12: Yogurt, shrimp, scallops, salmon, eggs, cod, chicken, and beef.
Tyrosine: seaweed, chicken, salmon, turkey, swiss cheese, pumpkin seeds, white beans, eggs
In the beginning, the best way to get started is to start by improving your diet. Food is nourishment, but it is also an instruction manual that activates DNA to produce hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters. There are far more phytochemicals and even unknown beneficial ingredients found in food and not in vitamins that affect our health.
Supplements should supplement the diet and not be the main course. Concerning supplements, taking more is not always better. Excessive supplementation may cause body imbalances and toxicity, which can be as harmful as a nutritional deficiency.
Jeremy Thararoop, DCN, RD
The Sodexo Wellness and Nutrition team of registered dietitians will be posting regular health tips to keep you and your families healthy during these trying times. We will focus on the areas that the CDC and other health experts are recognizing as special areas of importance to stay well. We encourage you to share these tips on nutrition, physical activity, stress management, sleep, food safety and overall well being with your loved ones. Remember, a strong body has a much better chance of fighting off this microscopic enemy.