How to power up your nutrition

March 25, 2020
Tuna sandwich
Add veggies to your tuna for an extra nutrient boost.

THEY say you can boost your immune system by eating fruits and vegetables. That’s true.

However, some people do not have much appetite on these foods. Certainly, you can power up your nutrition from these foods aside from fruits and vegetables.

* Eat beef. Beef is an excellent source of zinc, which is key to a healthy immune system. A serving of beef provides over 100 percent of your estimated need for zinc.

If you're not a meat-eater, though, some good vegan and vegetarian sources of the nutrient include lentils (23% Daily Value), oysters (76% DV) and tofu (36% DV). Zinc acts as a co-factor, or an assistant, for many chemical reactions that strengthen our immune system.

* Tuna. A can of tuna contains vitamin D (10% DV) with a little bit of zinc (4% DV). Tuna is a great way to get an array of powerhouse nutrients to boost immune function.

* Sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds are a good source of zinc (13% DV) and vitamin E (66% DV) and can easily be added to oats, yogurt parfaits or salads for an extra dose of immune-boosting power. Vitamin E seems to be especially important for older adults, who can benefit from its ability to boost the body's immune response.

* Milk.  A good old-fashioned glass of cow's milk actually packs a lot of immune-boosting power! Rich in vitamin D (32% DV), it also boasts 25 percent of your daily value from vitamin A and 16 percent DV of zinc. Apparently, milk is good for more than just bone health.Milk alternatives, like almond or oat milk, can also be fortified with these vitamins, but check the label to be sure.

* Yogurt. Fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha or sauerkraut all pack probiotics that help enhance immune function. However, yogurt is a convenient and common source of probiotics as well as vitamin A (7% DV) and zinc (13%).

The more probiotics, or healthy bacteria introduced to your body the better. So don't let yogurt be your only source of probiotics. Sip on kombucha, add sauerkraut to meat dishes and drink kefir when you're on the run and can't sit down to enjoy your yogurt.

Besides minerals and vitamins, a diet rich in probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, also helps to improve your body's innate immunity. These good bacteria actually play a role in protecting us from infection. A November 2019 paper in BioMed Research International showed that healthy probiotics such as lactobacillus and bifidobacteria (for reducing inflammation), help improve the immune response and eliminating potential pathogens. Basically, having more good bacteria would help you fight more bad bacteria.