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Salisbury University Dietitian Newsletter  |  November 2020 

the nutritious nibble

In This Issue:

Nutrition and Immunity | Vitamins and Minerals that Have Immune-Boosting Benefits |

Immune-Boosting Recipes

Nutrition and Immunity

Pumpkin spice and apple cider season is in full swing. Fall is full of outdoor activities like apple picking, hayrides and going to pumpkin patches. Grab those leggings, sweaters and boots and enjoy the weather. But as winter approaches, so does cold and flu season. Nutrition is crucial to a strong immune system. Many nutrients are required for the immune system to do its job and many of them are antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables.


Food provides the foundation of a strong immune system. Protein is vital to building immune system powerhouses such as antibodies. Too little protein in the diet may lead to low immunity. Antioxidants are known to boost immune function and help reduce the effect of free radicals. They are found abundantly in fruits and vegetables, so eat up! Vitamin A, C, E and selenium are significant antioxidants. Vegetables and fruits provide a plethora of antioxidants from powerful phytonutrients. Vitamin D and zinc have been shown to support the immune system as well.

It is important to remember that there is no one food that is best to boost your immune system. Rather a healthy, balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats is the best and easiest way to build a strong immune system.


Vitamins and Minerals that Have Immune-Boosting Benefits


Vitamin A protects against oxidation and supports the immune system and is critical for vision. A deficiency can lead to an impaired immune response, which can impact infection response and wound healing. Vitamin A comes in two forms, one is found in plant foods and one in animal proteins.

Food Sources: Animal: liver, eggs, fatty fish, shrimp, dairy; Plant: apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, dark green leafy vegetables, kale, mango, romaine lettuce, papaya, peas, spinach, sweet peppers, sweet potato, pumpkin, winter squash

Vitamin C stimulates the immune system to help protect against infections, the flu, colds and cancer. It’s safe to say many people know fruits like citrus fruits contain a high amount, but kiwi is also high.

Food Sources: Kiwi, citrus fruits, berries, papaya, cantaloupe, pineapple, greens, parsley, peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, squash, green beans, carrots

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps boost the immune system so it can fight off invading bacteria and viruses and combat inflammation. The best food sources contain fat.

Food Sources: Vegetable oils like wheat germ, sunflower, nuts and seeds. Green vegetables like spinach and broccoli provide some vitamin E

Selenium is a mineral with antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. If deficient, the body is more susceptible to viruses like the flu. Eating just two brazil nuts a day can provide all the selenium you need. Don’t overdo it though, too much selenium can have adverse effects.

Food Sources: Sunflower seeds, yellowfin tuna, halibut, organ meats and enriched grains like pasta and bread

Zinc is an essential part of the immune system and supports wound healing. It can be found in both animal and plant products like meats, poultry, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains.

Vitamin D is needed by the immune system to fight off viruses. It is the only vitamin that you can get from a source other than food. The sun reacts with your skin to create vitamin D, so make sure you get some sun when you can. Be smart about sun exposure and avoid burning. Keep in mind that sunscreen blocks vitamin D production.

Food Sources: Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel) egg yolks, and fortified foods like orange juice, soy, cow’s milk

Tips for Building a Strong Immune System

  • Aim to eat five servings of vegetables and four servings of fruits a day.
  • When making a plate, try making half of it vegetables.
  • Try vegetables and fruits of every color each day to get a variety of nutrients.
  • Get your sweet treat from fruit – reducing sugar reduces inflammation.
  • Focus on lean meat protein sources like chicken breast and turkey breast.
  • Include plant-based protein sources like nuts, seeds and legumes.
  • Include healthy fats on every plate: avocado, olive oil, salmon, peanut butter or any nut butter, nuts and seeds.
  • Prioritize a restful night’s sleep of at least eight hours.
  • Try to be physically active for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day.
  • Practice different ways to manage your stress: morning yoga or going for a walk.
  • Wash your hands often.

Get More Information on Boosting Your Immune System

Immune-Boosting Recipes

Newsletter made with contributions from:

Abbey Kane, UMES Dietetic Intern


Talk to the Dietician

For a personalized approach to eating and improving your health, see Terry Passano. Appointments are free of charge to faculty, students and staff.

Terry Passano

University Dietitian

Commons 151


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