Eating for Immunity

As a leading voice of nutrition, health, and wellness Unidine has long maintained the importance of eating for immunity and longevity. Our fresh food pledge guides us in all our business decisions and demonstrates our company-wide commitment to scratch cooking, responsibly sourced healthful ingredients, and sustainable practices. These initiatives come together to create better health outcomes and higher quality of life for all of the clients we serve.

Much of “health based medicine” takes place within our individual immune systems; these complex systems are tasked with fighting disease-causing germs and pathogens like bacteria, viruses, parasites and removing them from the body. While wellness promoting activities like adequate sleep, low levels of stress, and exercise help promote immune functioning, nutrition is paramount. Eating a diverse and balanced diet composed of a combination of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats ensures adequate nutrition and minerals to keep your body functioning properly.

Ellen Lowre, Senior Director of Nutrition, and Wellness at Unidine asserts “Keep it simple, and use the MyPlate method from the USDA to guide your meal planning. Fill half your plate at every meal with a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits and you will be naturally consuming foods abundant in disease fighting antioxidants.”

Most consumers aren’t listing out nutritional labels in their heads as they dive into a meal, but understanding the very basics of nutrient content can help shape a more wholesome diet. Here are some basics to focus on:

● Protein plays a large role in the body’s immune system, specifically in healing and recovery. Foods with high protein levels are: seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans, soy products, tofu, nuts, and seeds.
● Vitamin A helps regulate the immune system and protects the body against infections by keeping skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, and respiratory system healthy. Sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, spinach, red
bell peppers, apricots and eggs are all good sources of Vitamin A.
● Vitamin C supports the immune system by stimulating the formation of antibodies. Easy foods to incorporate to meet your daily Vitamin C goals are: tomatoes, citrus fruit, sweet peppers, broccoli, and kiwi.
● Zinc helps the immune system work properly and may help heal wounds. Good sources of zinc are: sunflower seeds, oils, fortified cereals, almonds, peanut butter, cashews, and shellfish.
● Vitamin D helps regulate the immune cell function. Foods fortified with Vitamin D like cereal, orange juice, fatty fish, and fifteen minutes of sun exposure will all help meet your daily goal.

There are many other important nutrients like B6, B12, Copper, Folate, and Iron that help support the immune response. Creating understanding and awareness around the basics of nutrients and minerals helps to foster a more consciously balanced diet. Simple actions like “choosing a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables ensures we are consuming a diverse abundance of disease fighting antioxidants” said Emmie Burke, Regional Director of Nutritional Health and Wellness at Unidine.

It’s easy to grab packaged and processed foods that make for a quick meal when you’re in a rush. But processed foods are often high in salt, sugar, artificial colors and preservatives. If you’re hoping to eat more healthfully there are many ways to incorporate more nutritious foods at every meal without sacrificing time or flavor. Simple healthful swaps include whole grain rice over white rice, olive oil & vinegar versus sodium ladened salad dressings, and whole fruits over fruit juice. Have filling snacks on hand such as sliced bell pepper, hummus, or air popped popcorn for a crunch instead of oil coated potato chips.

Diet changes start at the source, stocking your pantry with healthy foods is a great first step towards better health. Your meal choices begin at the grocery store, so setting aside time to plan meals can help you consciously make better choices. Always have on hand some nutrient dense staples, such as oatmeal, unsalted nuts like almonds and walnuts, canned no-salt-added beans, whole grain pasta, and sauce-free frozen vegetables. This will make incorporating fiber and vitamin rich foods into meals quicker and easier.

It can be overwhelming to dive into the complexities of nutrients and minerals that exist in our food system. Understanding the basics on a balanced plate, simple food swaps, and pantry staples are all great steps towards wellness. We have consolidated various recipes, tips, and tricks from our team of Dietitians and Culinarians on our live-healthy site, for more educational resources visit our site here.