By Taylor Sutton, MS, RD
United Supermarkets’ Lifestyle Desk
We’re in the beginning of cold and flu season and while last year opened our eyes to alot of things there were some key nutrients we started looking at to better overall wellness throughout the year and especially through the fall. There’s a lot going on right now in the world and setting yourself up for success outside of stocking up on hand sanitizer and hand soap is key. So let’s talk about some immune boosting foods that are easily added to the diet.
Vitamin D: Once converted to its active form, vitamin D has many roles. A few of those roles include promoting calcium absorption in the gut, maintaining adequate calcium and phosphate concentrations, reducing inflammation, aiding in cell growth, aiding in neuromuscular and immune function, glucose metabolism, and bone growth and remodeling. Without vitamin D, bones would be brittle and thin leading to rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults. It is also known as the sunshine vitamin and can help boost mood!
Probiotics: We’ve heard of this one time and time again to create a healthy gut since the majority of our immune system lives there. While supplements can have a role, whole food sources like kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, pickles, and sourdough will be better absorbed by the gut.
Zinc: Zinc helps regulate the immune system and maintain integrity of the skin which is one of the first lines of defense against infection. If there isn’t enough in the system it can delay wound healing and suppress the immune system from functioning properly. A few foods like eggs, beef, poultry, oysters, shrimp, milk, nuts, whole grains, and beans are good sources of this nutrient. A few studies show that zinc supplementation can help reduce the duration and severity of common colds in healthy individuals.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C consumption and supplementation is hit and miss. The bottom line is that supplementation won’t hurt you but it might help. While citrus foods take the cake on this one other foods like bell peppers, strawberries and kiwis are also good sources of this vitamin. When looking for a supplement look for 250mg at one time as that is what is absorbed. Anything higher and it may be excreted.
Beta Glucans: Beta Glucans from fungi and yeast support immune system function. This nutrient can easily be found in mushrooms and brewers yeast. You can find mushrooms in the fresh, frozen, canned and living well section of our stores easily.
Elderberry: Elderberry supplementation may help boost the immune system and help ease cold and flu symptoms. It is rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Some cultures have considered to be one of the world’s oldest and most healing plants.
Outside of these specific nutrients found in foods, make sure you are getting plenty of fluids, regular physical activity, 7-9 hours of quality sleep, and maintaining your current weight. Your overall wellness depends on these simple actions that can change the outcome of your day. So lets put some of these foods to the test. Pair your high vitamin C peppers with October’s national seafood month theme with this delicious quick and easy stirfry recipe!
Easy Chinese Stirfry
1 lb shrimp, steamed at seafood counter
1 bag Signature Kitchen Frozen Peppers and onions, defrosted in fridge
1 medium zucchini
1, 5oz box spinach
1 package KA–ME Chinese Noodles
1/3 cup Far East Teriyaki Ginger Sauce
2 Tbsp. toasted Sesame Oil
Optional: Chopped green onion, sesame seeds
1. Pick up the shrimp from the seafood counter and ask them to steam it for you and when you start making this dish set it out to let it start coming to room temperature
2. Boil noodles according to package directions
3. Dice and saute zucchini
4. Add in peppers and onions and cook out any additional water
5. Add in spinach and wilt completely
6. Toss in shrimp and noodles
7. Add in sauce and oil and mix to combine
8. Top with green onion and sesame seeds as desired