How Can I Keep My Immune System Strong? Ask A Nutritionist.

Categories: Ask a Nutritionist, Blog

Cold and flu season are upon us. With the coronavirus still present, it’s even more important to try to stay as healthy as you can. It may not be entirely possible to prevent illness this upcoming season – but you can take steps to protect your body by eating a variety of nutritious foods.

The following foods can help strengthen your immune system:

  • Vitamin A, also known as beta carotene, is found in tomatoes, broccoli, sweet potatoes carrots and spinach.
  • Vitamin C foods include citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, leafy greens, berries, kiwi, papaya and peppers.
  • Vitamin D is found in fortified dairy and juice products, eggs and fatty fish, such as salmon.
  • Zinc sources include meat, seafood, nuts, beans and tofu.
  • Probiotics support good health and include cultured dairy products like yogurt, and fermented products like kimchi and sauerkraut. 

Besides your diet, there are also other ways to keep your immune system healthy:

  • Try to get at least five or more servings of fruits and vegetables. They contain minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants for good immune health. It’s best to get your nutrients from food and not rely on supplements.
  • Get enough sleep. Aim for seven to nine hours a night.
  • Be physically active. It’s a good way to cope with stress. Talk a walk, dance with your kids, work in the garden, or walk the dog.
  • Meditation or listening to music can relieve stress.
  • Keep up to date on your vaccines, especially your flu shot this year.
  • Keep at a healthy weight.
  • Don’t smoke.

Stay healthy, and don’t forget to wash your hands frequently, wear a mask and keep socially distant!

Joanne M. Gallivan, M.S., R.D.N. is a registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She served as the Director of the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) in the Office of Communication and Public Liaison for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1997-2016.  Previously, Ms. Gallivan has served as project manager for NIDDK’s Weight-Control Information Network (WIN), a national source of information on weight control, obesity, and weight-related nutritional disorders for health professionals and the public; as Contract Manager for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s National Cholesterol Education Program and Obesity Education Initiative, and as Director of the Prince George’s County Health Department Nutrition Division located in Maryland.

Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic is a free clinic in Charleston, SC, that provides free medical care to eligible patients, just like any family practitioner or internist. The Free Clinic serves uninsured adults living at or below 299 % of the Federal poverty level who live or work on Johns, James, & Wadmalaw Island or Folly Beach, or serve the Hospitality Industry of Downtown Charleston. You can follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.