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How to Diet for a Pandemic

Recently we talked about your immune system, and how staying active is a NECESSITY during a pandemic. Today we’re going to add onto that. Food is another EXCEPTIONAL way to boost your immune system to fight off common colds as well as hold off against chronic diseases.

I don’t think this is news to anybody, but we need vitamins and minerals. A whole bunch of each. Vitamin C is probably one of the most cited vitamin to help boost your immune system. Good news is, it’s in way more than just citrus fruits! Leafy greens, strawberries, and bell peppers are also excellent sources. In fact, it’s in so much common foods that you probably don’t need to supplement it. If you’re eating your recommended daily intake of fruits and veggies, and your doctor doesn’t say otherwise, you don’t need to supplement Vitamin C. HOWEVER, Vitamin C is water soluble. Which is fancy speak for it’ll find its way into the toilet eventually. So it’s important to get plenty EVERYDAY.

Some other important vitamins and minerals we need to stay healthy include: Vitamin A, found in more colorful veggies (carrots, sweet potato, cantaloupe). Vitamin E, found especially in leafy greens. Iron, found in lean meats, also spinach and kale. And Zinc, found in lean meats, and beans.

It’s been accepted that it’s better to get your vitamins and minerals from REAL FOOD and not rely on supplements. Supplements might be a useful tool to use, but the health benefits of just eating your veggies far outweigh popping a pill or mixing some powder. One exception from that rule is Vitamin D. Our most common food with Vitamin D is milk, and that’s only fortified with it. It’s naturally found in fatty fish, but the catch is that sunlight is our easiest way to get it. A recent study found that most Wisconsinites don’t get enough sunlight to supply enough Vitamin D. Even if you're an avid sunbather, winter is winter. Talk to your doctor if you think you should be on a Vitamin D supplement.

Back to real food though, there’s clinical evidence to support that increased fruit and vegetable intake is related to a reduced risk of...get ready for it...coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, cancer, weight gain, type 2 diabetes mellitus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, certain eye diseases, and dementia.1

So yes, eat your fruits and veggies now to help boost your immune system. But also eat your fruits and veggies every day so you can live a long, successful,


1.Boeing H, Bechthold A, Bub A, et al. Critical review: vegetables and fruit in the prevention of chronic diseases. Eur J Nutr.2012;51(6):637–63.[Epub2012Jun9].

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