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Easily Minimize Your Risk Of Scary Infections With Healthy Eating

Jayne Reynolds

I am a Board Certified Holistic Nutritionist® passionate about restoring the body's health, balance, and wellbeing. I get down to the root cause of what's happening in the body so that it can be addressed instead of chasing symptoms.
Published: August 21, 2021
Healthy food minimizes infections

Low-Risk Nutrients Lower Your Infection Risk

Infections. They are the buzzword on the street, by the water cooler (if you’re back to in-person that is), on social media, and in the headlines. Even before the days of the Delta variant, there were growing concerns about antibiotic-resistant infections and treatment options. Prevention comes up often, but these days it’s in terms of social distancing, handwashing, masking, etc.

In Britain, in the 1940s, a massive campaign called “Dig for Victory” encouraged men and women across the country to grow their own food because of rationing. Dr. Carrot became an iconic advertising character as he pranced around with his “vit-A” medical bag. And commercials promised that carrots on a stick were as good as a lollipop.

Today, we’re literally in the throes of war with infection. In part thanks to research done during the world wars, we now have scientifically-backed evidence like this that demonstrates how we can build a robust immune system using nutrition as a tool. Nutrients in their whole food form are about one of the safest changes you can make to improve your outcome in the war with infection.

Food As An Immunity Foundation: Building Your Fortress

Last week, I shared how your immune system is a modern-day fortress equipped with knights, foot soldiers, and blacksmiths. Lifestyle choices are the bricks and mortar that make up your walls. Nutrition is the foundation underneath your walls. What you eat will either promote inflammation and disease or reduce inflammation and promote healing. How often you make great choices will determine how robust your foundation is. Just as a house with a strong foundation can withstand a storm, so your body, fortified with nutrients can prevail against sickness and infections.

The vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, and the minerals zinc and selenium are all critical for healthy immune function. 

Vitamin D

Studies have shown that individuals low in vitamin D are having a notably hard time with COVID. In his research article on Vitamin D deficiency and co-morbidities in COVID-19, Hans Biesalski connects low vitamin D levels with hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome. Approximately 42% of Americans are Vitamin D deficient, and in a lockdown situation with less access to natural light, this number could well increase. We also know that vitamin D is “one of many hormones involved in the maturation of white blood cells” (your castle gatekeepers). 

To protect against infections check your vitamin D levels and pick up a supplement if you need it.

Food sources include salmon, sardines, tuna, eggs, and shiitake mushrooms, and of course, a walk in the sunshine is also beneficial.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A helps your body to make and use antibodies, the special proteins formed by your B-cells and T-helper cells (your blacksmith and his assistant). It also plays a role in putting on the brakes and preventing your immune and inflammatory systems from overreacting. 

Food sources include sweet potato, carrots, spinach, kale, mustard, collard, turnip, and beet greens, Swiss chard, and winter squash.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is necessary for the production of phagocytes or your castle gatekeepers. Sometimes, in a battle, the warrior gets wounded; this can be true for phagocytes. They attack invaders using toxins such as superoxide radicals and hypochlorous acid or “bleach.” Sometimes, this inflicts damage on the phagocytic gatekeeper as well as the enemy. Like a suit of armor, Vitamin C helps to protect them. Finally, we know that our gatekeepers produce something called interferons, which help kill off viruses and infections. Vitamin C increases the production of interferons.

Food sources include papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, pineapple, oranges, kiwifruit, cantaloupe, and cauliflower.

Zinc

Zinc specifically supports the knights (or macrophages) in your fortress. When a knight that’s full of zinc consumes an invader, it essentially poisons the invader and kills it. We know from a 2010 laboratory study, that zinc “inhibited the activity and replication of another coronavirus,” and we know that it can reduce the duration of the common cold. We also know that diets low in zinc can “induce measurable reductions in the activity of the immune system.” (Mateljan) 

Older individuals are especially prone to lowered immunity because of low zinc levels. The fabulous news is that correcting this deficiency can reverse these concerns within weeks.

Food sources of zinc include beef, lamb, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, cashews, turkey, quinoa, and shrimp.

Vitamin E

One of the risk factors that I previously mentioned was that of aging. Many individuals don’t eat enough nutrients to keep their vitamin E levels where they should be. As you age, your body uses more vitamin E to protect you from age-related infection and free radicals. Vitamin E directly supports your T-cell foot soldiers, helping them to move from basic training to full-fledged service. As we age, low vitamin E levels make it harder to fight off infection because the t-cell foot soldiers never mature and multiply. They are called naive t-cells because they have no idea what to do when they encounter antigens or foreign invaders. 

Just 200mg of vitamin E a day can significantly reduce your risk of contracting an upper respiratory infections, especially the common cold. This is true, even if you are over 65. We also know that vitamin E is extremely protective of your heart and significantly reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease. This is important because this is another risk factor for COVID. All in all, vitamin E is an important building block in your immune fortress.

Food sources include sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocado, peanuts, asparagus, and turnip, beet, and mustard greens.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B complex, especially folate, B6, and B12, are also required for immunity. These three work together to help produce methionine, an essential amino acid used by your body to make glutathione, which cleans up your body effectively. People who are low in folate and B12, have fewer foot soldiers, or T-cells. B6 and B12 provide the energy needed to make your immune cells.

Food sources with high amounts of these B’s include lentils, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, asparagus, tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmons, sardines, cod, and lamb.

Selenium

George Mateljan tells us that selenium is also “required for the proper activity of a group of enzymes called glutathione peroxidases. These enzymes play a key role in the body’s detoxification system. They also provide protection against oxidative stress.” In this role, selenium works hand in hand with vitamin E. It helps to regulate inflammation and how your immune cells function.

Brazil nuts, wheat germ, tuna, shrimp, sardines, and salmon, are your highest sources of selenium. They provide between 80% and 225% of your recommended daily intake.

Flavonoids

If all these vitamins and minerals are the building blocks for your fortress, then flavonoids are the mortar that holds the bricks together. 

Flavonoids are a power-packed group of plant colors that have more antioxidant activity than vitamin A, C, E combined. Not only do they make up the color of the plant, but they also often contain the plant’s medicinal properties. We advocate eating from a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day. The variety will provide you with a wide range of beneficial nutrients that will give you broad-spectrum protection from infections.

Conclusion

Building a fortress takes a while. It’s constructed brick by brick, and its staff has to be properly taken care of to effectively protect the stronghold. Likewise, your immune system is far more robust than you probably give it credit for. Every day, you encounter about 60,000 different types of germs. Unless you struggle with a compromised immune system, you probably don’t get affected by many of them. That’s because your immune system does a kick-ass job of protecting you.

Getting sick requires exposure AND susceptibility. You can’t avoid exposure. However, you can do a lot to improve your immune resistance, and it all begins with what you put in your body.

What’s Next?

For most people, minor lifestyle changes will make a big difference. However, there are times when the problem runs deeper, and you need professional help. If you’ve tried to figure this out on your own, or you feel like you’re lost in a maze of information and aren’t sure which path to take, don’t give up hope.

We have a range of different approaches that will help you figure out the root cause of your dysfunction and stop the cycle of sickness so you can feel better now. Book your free 30-minute Breakthrough Strategy Session today.

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