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Wednesdays with Whitney (and Sable!) Foods for Immunity

Sable Altvater is currently a dietetic intern and graduate student at the University of Maine, where she also received her B.S. in Food Science and Human Nutrition. Sable is very interested in food security and sustainability, with the goal of becoming a Registered Dietitian in the next year. Sable is from a Passamaquoddy reservation in Eastern Maine, where her passion for food and nutrition started. In her spare time, Sable enjoys exploring the vast landscapes in Maine and reading short stories.

Foods for Immunity

Balanced nutrition is essential to build a strong immune system. Incorporating nutrient-dense foods into your diet will help you boost your immune system and provide you with extra protection against infections.

Focus on these nutrients to help boost immunity:

Beta carotene: Holds antioxidant properties that destroy free radicals.

Food Sources: sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, and broccoli.

Vitamin A: Helps regulate the immune system and protect against infections.

Food Sources: sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, eggs or foods labeled with (vitamin A fortified)

Zinc: Helps the immune system work properly and may help with wound healing

○ Food Sources: lean meat, poultry, seafood, milk, whole grain products, beans, seeds

Iron: Helps support the immune response.

Food Sources: lean beef, chicken, turkey, beans and lentils, cashews, fortified breakfast cereals.

Vitamin C: Supports the immune system by stimulating the formation of antibodies.

Food Sources: citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, berries, and tomatoes

*Iron and Vitamin C: When combined, Vitamin C has been shown to enhance non-heme iron absorption. Some food combinations include chili (with black beans and tomatoes), lentils with bell peppers, blueberries and oatmeal, and greens and lemon juice.

Polyphenols Polyphenols are bioactive compounds found in fruits and vegetables. Research has shown that polyphenols help trigger signaling pathways that regulate the immune response in our bodies. Incorporating a variety of fruits and veggies into your daily diet is another great way to strengthen the immune system.

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