Happily, the answer is: “neither!” A well-nourished body is our best defense.
These healthy choices help promote a strong immune system: Antioxidants, as found in a variety of fruits, and vegetables are phytonutrients that neutralize free radicals and protect our cells. Eat a rainbow of colorful foods!
Make sure to include:
Vitamin A: sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash, cantaloupe
Vitamin C: peppers, citrus fruits, berries, watermelon, kiwis, pineapple
Vitamin E: wheat germ, nuts and seeds
Also include garlic, tea, herbs and spices.
Protein builds and repairs the cells in our bodies. Good sources include dairy, eggs, seafood, lean poultry, meats, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Fluids help flush out toxic substances, reduce fever, and thin secretions. Aim for beverages with no added sugars. Ginger tea helps to ease nausea.
Omega 3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and are found in seafood such as salmon, sardines, tuna and mackerel. Vegan sources include flax meal, chia, and walnuts.
Zinc has been linked to an improved immune system and faster wound healing. Good sources include whole grains, seafood, eggs, dairy, meat, nuts, seeds, beans, and fortified cereals.
Vitamin D is also linked to immune function and has anti-inflammatory properties. Food sources include Vitamin D fortified dairy and other foods, cod liver oil, and salmon. Mushrooms exposed to ultraviolet light also are a good source of Vitamin D (place your mushrooms on your window sill for Vitamin D production). Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin” because our bodies also produce this vitamin when exposed to sunlight.
Probiotics are also are linked to immune function and are found in cultured dairy such as yogurt and kefir and fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, or tempeh.
Honey, especially buckwheat honey, is a natural cough suppressant. This sweet option may also have other natural healing properties.
Grandma taught us right when offering chicken vegetable soup and a cup of tea with honey.
Fran Weiss, MS RDN CDN is a registered dietitian in the national Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is certified as a dietitian nutritionist in New York State. She was selected as one of four 2018 National Retail Registered Dietitian finalists. She may be reached with questions or for inquires for private consultations by contacting Fran Weiss, MS RD CDN Dietitian c/o The Jewish World or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.