by Nancy Mehlert, MS
Supplementation is often a necessary step to ensuring our body is getting all of the vitamins, minerals and micronutrients necessary for optimal healthy living. Many of our food sources are contaminated, and we don’t always choose the right variety and quality of food necessary to stay well. But that does not mean we should not make every effort to eat well and make wise food choices. We know that Zinc, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and Probioticsare all critical players in the ability of the immune system to fend off disease and germs. To help you make wise food choices that will arm your immune system with all the right weaponry, we have provided a list of the best food sources for each of these key immune boosting foods.
Zinc is found in highest levels in oysters, though they can also be ocean polluted with chemicals and metals so are not recommended as a daily food choice. Better daily sources include grass fed beef, lamb, pork, liver, herring, egg yolks, pecans, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, ginger root, mustard, chili powder, and black pepper.
Vitamin D is difficult to obtain from food and the body’s ideal source is to manufacture it from cholesterol in our skin from the ultra violet rays of the sun. With busy indoor lives, northern climates, cholesterol-lowering medications, clothes covering our skin and concerns about skin cancer, we are getting less sunshine, so Vitamin D deficiency is very common. We recommend supplementation of Vitamin D with regular monitoring for optimal levels by your healthcare professional. However, modest amounts of naturally occurring vitamin D are provided in egg yolks, butter, liver, mackerel, salmon, sardines, herring, mushrooms and dark leafy greens.
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that our bodies cannot manufacture and is only available in plant foods. It is also not very stable, so is most potent and available in very fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables. Fresh vegetable juicing and eating fresh, whole fruits are two very effective ways to get Vitamin C. All fruits and vegetables are very good sources but the very highest levels are found in the citrus fruits, cantaloupe, strawberries, red and green bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, asparagus, avocado, parsley, dark leafy greens, and cabbage.
Probiotics are the amazing bacteria that form the military force that protects your body from invasions of every kind. Also called favorable or “friendly” bacteria, they serve to help in the production of some B vitamins and vitamin K, breakdown our food, and inhibiting the growth of pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. This is especially true of invading germs that arrive in, and on, our food. While we recommend probiotic supplementation, fermented and cultured foods are the ideal choice due to the very high population or concentration of living friendly bacteria. Unfortunately, food processing has killed the living aspects of most of our foods so few foods exist today in typical grocery stores that are truly living and full of favorable live bacteria. Whole Foods stores carry several brands of fermented sauerkraut and a high quality organic, living yogurt. (Most live cultures in typical store bought yogurts are inconsequential in number, damaged by pasteurization and combined with a great deal of sugar.) Additionally, fermented vegetables can also be purchased online at Immunitrition.com. Additional resources to learn more about fermenting foods can be found on the Internet at many websites, one such example is www.culturesforhealth.com.
Eat Well, Stay Well!