Developing a Strong Immune [REPLAY]

December 15, 2021

Our dietitians today will focus the discussion on how nutrition helps to develop a strong immune function. We have had many shows about the immune system, but we decided to take this show in a different direction with a little more science than some of our other shows and podcasts. Today we want to share some of the research findings about how you can support your immune system, particularly now during this seemingly endless COVID-19 pandemic. The flu and cold season is almost upon us, so we will share and recommend some valuable action steps you may want to start using now to begin strengthening your immune system.

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LEAH: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. I am Leah Kleinschrodt. I'm a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. And joining me this morning is today's cohost, Teresa Wagner, who is also a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, but you've got a few more years of experience than I do. You got about 15 years of experience being a registered dietitian.

TERESA: I can't believe it. It doesn't seem possible.

LEAH: Yeah. And Teresa is a very skilled nutrition counselor and educator. She is lots of fun to work with. I can say that because you and I have had some great conversations and some good times sharing the St. Paul office the last few months. And I know your clients really enjoy kind of your bubbly personality and your outgoingness. And also just having lots of fun with coming up with ideas for meals and snacks and getting people on the right track with nutrition.

TERESA: Well, thanks, Leah.

LEAH: Yeah, you're welcome. So there's, there's an ad on TV most of us have probably heard this these days, for an insurance company that says “We know a thing or two, because we've seen a thing or two.” And I think that describes kind of your experience so far with your career; like we could say the same thing about Teresa. She knows a thing or two, because she has seen a thing or two over the years with all the clients that she's seen.

TERESA: Well, and I think that we could say that the same thing about you, Leah.

LEAH: Well, I appreciate that. Thanks. I like to think that too, but, but again, like you, again, you have a couple more years on it than I do. So today Teresa and I will focus on our discussion on how nutrition helps to develop a strong immune function. And I know Teresa in the past, you've worked with lots of clients who have had some immune compromises and things like that. You mentioned that you used to do some work with the VA system in a different state. And so like this is a population that you've worked with plenty before.

Now, we have had many shows about the immune system, but we decided to take this show in a little different direction and with probably a little bit more science than some of the other shows and podcasts that we've done. So today we want to share some of the research findings about how you can support your immune system from a nutrition perspective; and particularly right now during this seemingly endless COVID-19 pandemic. So we pulled up a research article and it's called “Nutrition and Immunity: Lessons for COVID-19”. So this was a study that was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition just a little earlier this year. This was June of 2021; so earlier in the summer. It is a great article, a little bit technical in some places, but definitely worth reading.

Good nutrition is critical for immune function


TERESA: Yeah. And it was, it's a very interesting read. And I just want to highlight the second sentence in this review article. It says, “Nutrition is one of multiple factors that determines the immune response and good nutrition is important in supporting that immune response.” So simply put, if you want a good immune system or good immune function, especially now during COVID-19 during this pandemic that we're in. I think we're all concentrating and thinking about immune function. We need to have good nutrition. This article, it went on to say, “Immunity can be impaired in older people, in those living with obesity, and those with low intakes of micronutrients.” And micronutrients are things like vitamins and minerals. So I want to tell you about a friend of mine's mother who's in her nineties. She eats meat. She eats vegetables. She's not afraid of adding butter to her vegetables.

And for, for those of you who might still be a little wary of eating fat that are more comfortable eating low fat or no fat foods and fear maybe eating some of that fat, this woman, she's 90. She's been eating fat her whole life, and she's not overweight. She gets lots of micronutrients, such as vitamin C, from zinc, from vitamin A and from magnesium. She gets all these things from her food as she has great immune function. She does add a vitamin D3 supplement, especially in the winter. But in the summer she is out in her garden or walking around Como Lake. So she gets a lot of vitamin D from the sun. But she does just to make sure that she does have her doctor check her vitamin D level every six months, just to be sure that that level is within that optimal range. So the optimal range is between 50 and 80.

So while she's in her nineties, an age of being at risk for impaired immune function, which, you know, when you're 90, there's nothing, any age you are, there's nothing you can do about your age, right? So she can't control her age and that, perhaps that compromise that she may have, but she is controlling what she can control. She's controlling her weight. She's eating adequate nutrients. She's spending time in nature, getting out in the sunshine and she is staying active with activities that she enjoys. And these are all things that support a healthy immune function.

LEAH: Yeah. That's perfect. Just summarizing what you said, Teresa: controlling what you can control. And then, again, that hopefully that offsets some of those things that we can't control, like our genetics or our age and things like that. I think that's going to be a big message coming up throughout our show is what do we have control over? And of course we always put that food spin on there since we're dietitians and nutritionists here.

TERESA: Yes. And it can start today, right? It doesn't have to be, you know, something that we wait to do. We can, we can start with little things just today.

LEAH: Yup; absolutely. We challenge that with our Nutrition for Weight Loss clients and our classes. And even our clients in general is like, let's not wait till Monday. Let's not wait for another week or two or a month. Like, let's get started with that today. So I like this sentence in the research review article: So the sentence says, “The adverse impact of poor nutrition on the immune system, including the inflammatory component, maybe one of the explanations for the higher risk of more severe outcomes from infection with SARS CoV-2 or what is referred to as COVID-19.” So it's a little bit of a mouthful, but basically the article said that poor nutrition often results in worse outcomes from COVID-19, which includes if you've been paying attention to the news or any kind of research around COVID-19, that cytokine storm, or just kind of that runaway inflammatory response. When we have poor nutrition and we don't have the things to put out that inflammation fire, now we see, you know, worse outcomes or more severe disease when it comes to COVID-19.

So I would like to think that most people would know they don't need a fancy research article to tell them that poor nutrition leads to poor immune function, which is why maybe they often get sick and not even just during COVID-19, but on a regular basis, you know, cold and flu season. Are you one of those people that tend to get every cold that comes through the office? Or do you fall sick with the flu once or twice a year? Or anything that you get in your chest; does that settle in and cause bronchitis or pneumonia?

So again, hopefully again, we don't need necessarily a fancy research article to tell us this, but it's something that a lot of, I know a lot of my clients have just intuitively even told me over the years, like “This is what I've noticed with my immune system.”

TERESA: Right. And I think, you know, some people may have just forgotten what we've been taught in school. You know, just more of the basic levels of what we've been taught in school about the primary role of the immune system. The immune system is to protect you against pathogenic organisms. Pathogenic just means something that can cause disease. And these pathogenic organisms could be bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. And in this day and age, we are exposed to many different bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Lyme's disease would be an example of a bacterial infection, COVID, the common cold, flu, and viruses. Even athlete's foot: that's, that's an example of a fungus infection. So unfortunately, many people in the U.S. have no idea what eating good nutrition is or what it looks like, or maybe they do, but they've just kind of lost their way a little bit. You know, eating something out of a box or a bag is really not good nutrition. You know, those foods that are in the center aisles of the grocery store.

LEAH: Yep.

TERESA: Eating something you got through a window at a fast food drive-through: that's not good nutrition. Eating something from a convenience store: that's not good nutrition. Eating something you got from the pizza delivery guy: that's not good nutrition. Any food that's high in sugar and has those refined bad fats and is low in key immune building nutrients: this is, this is not good nutrition. You know, we don't blame people. And this isn't a, that's not a “judgy” statement cause we do some of these things just for convenience or how our, how our life runs. But we really need to get back to some of the basics of, okay, does this make sense? If I'm going through the drive-through consistently, am I doing something that's going to support my immune system? Or if I'm constantly, you know, opening a box and dumping into, you know, a boiling pot of water and then that, we eat that product. You know, that probably is not going to be the best nutrition long-term if we do that over and over and over again.

LEAH: Right. We don't want to set those things as our foundation to build off of.


LEAH: So we have to take our first break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. If you have a health and immune risk factor, such as type two diabetes, cancer, obesity, I really encourage you to set up a series of appointments with one of our Nutritional Weight and Wellness dietitians or nutritionists to help you develop a habit of eating real food. Take that first step to developing a strong immune system and give us a call at (651) 699-3438 today to set up an appointment. And we'll be right back.

Nutrition Counseling


TERESA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. This morning, Leah and I are discussing the role of nutrition as it relates to immune function. Many people are setting up appointments to learn how they can eat better to have a better immune function. The COVID-19 pandemic has people concerned about their immune system and they know that there's not a magic pill to increase their overall immunity. At Nutritional Weight and Wellness, we know it takes eating real food to strengthen overall immunity. Perhaps you've never thought about reaching out for help to strengthen your immune system, but if there was ever a time to do it, the time is now.

Changing food habits takes time and most people need education and support to navigate them through the change. That is our job. Do not wait until you are sick. Start building your immune system now with real food by setting up an appointment with one of our dieticians or nutritionists. Call 651-699-3438, or go to our website,

Now, before break, we were discussing how as a society, we have maybe lost our way a bit with food as far as what good nutrition habits we might have; living on convenience foods, whether it's fast foods or convenience foods that we make at home or have delivered to our home. This is not good nutrition and it's not immune system supporting. So we really want to take a look at how we can eat to improve our overall immune system.

LEAH: Yup, absolutely. How can we start? You know, again, even if you've lost your way a little bit, how can we start plugging those holes, how we can start laying that foundation, giving your immune system the building blocks that it needs to actually be able to respond and to do what it needs to do when it does come under attack. So it does, you know, for, for us as dietitians, maybe it's a little obvious that, you know, that to have an effective defense against these pathogenic organisms, we must have a well-functioning immune system. But I think nowadays most, most everyone in the country at this point is, is aware that yes, our immune system; very important. We just need to have some of those tools on how to engage that immune system, how to keep it running in tip top shape.

If you suspect that you don't have a well-functioning immune system, you are probably at a higher risk of becoming infected and that infection can be more serious and possibly even fatal. I mean, these days you tune into the news and every night you see, you hear a story about another person who has died from COVID-19 or you see the ticker on there of, you know, what's the new number of cases, the new number of deaths and things like that. So we know, again, like there are a lot of immune systems that are under attack these days.

TERESA: Yes, it's really, it's very tragic. And I know that one of the tickers that I watch is the one on the school or the school dashboard, you know, on the school website to see, okay, how is how, how are our kids doing in this, you know, in this pandemic that we're living through? And how many kids have it, and are we close to having to be concerned about, you know, going back to, to school at home and those types of things. So not only do we want it for our own immune systems, but for our kids' immune systems. We really, it's, it's really important to be focusing on, on just supporting, supporting what we can, doing what we can. So today we're talking about a research article called “Nutrition and Immunity: Lessons for COVID-19”. This research review article pointed out that there are 16 different factors that are, that affect our immune function, but I'm not going to go through all 16 of those.

Factors that affect our immune function


I just want to share a few of those factors with you. So the first factor: alcohol consumption. The more you drink, the lower your immune function. I think we would we might all realize that that would be the case. Another factor is your diet. A poor diet leads to poor immune function. Smoking can lead to poor immune function. Certain medications can really lower your immune function; long-term stress. Now, I think we all, I don't know anybody, I've, I think we have a, we have a measure that we look at that our clients fill out before they come to see us. And it talks about stress and their stress level. I haven't had a low stress check mark in a really long time. So we are all stressed right now. And I feel like this long-term stress that's come from living through this pandemic is really affecting people. And unfortunately it’s affecting their immune system, which could be, you know, contributing to prolonging this, this pandemic that we're having.

Another risk factor is lack of physical fitness. So we really want to be out there and exercising our bodies in ways that are, are good for you. You know, and that's that picture of physical fitness looks different from person to person, but really getting out there and trying to get some exercise. And then of course your genetics. I listed seven key factors affecting the immune system. And out of all seven of these factors, the only one we cannot control is our genetics. That being said, we have a lot of power or influence over our immune function. Think of it this way: low immunity increases your risk of getting cancer. Every one of us has a major influence over our immune system. You know, a low immune function increases our risk of other things, too. You know, as far as the common cold or, or any of the things that we've talked about already today. This article also said that as we age the output of our immune cells from our bone marrow decreases and older people can show a broader range of immune impairments, making them more susceptible to infection.

LEAH: So this article also cited many research studies that say poor nutrition intake may also contribute to some of that age related decline; immune decline. Several research studies found that immune decline is less in older populations or older people who eat better and have better micronutrient intake. And so I want to talk about one of those micronutrients as we launch into our second break here. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition.

And as Teresa mentioned before break, we are discussing the role of nutrition in supporting your immune function. Now the cold and flu season, unfortunately, is really upon us at this point. So we will share and recommend some valuable information with you that you may want to start using now to begin strengthening your immune system. So, one mineral that is very important for fighting off viruses and for a strong immune system is the mineral zinc. We recommend that you add just one capsule of a zinc supplement at bedtime. Our Nutrikey Zinc is chelated, which means it is attached to a little molecule of protein. So it's well absorbed. Foods containing zinc are grass fed meats, seafood, and pumpkin seeds. So just like last year, we're not just dealing with cold and flu, but we're also dealing with COVID-19. So for me and my family, instead of tossing the pumpkin seeds into the compost, we're going to keep them and roast them to get some of that zinc into our systems. And we'll be right back.


Nutrients to help with immunity


TERESA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. For help with your viral immunity, you cannot go wrong with adding some vitamin C. We have a new vitamin C supplement for you to consider called liposomal vitamin C, which is in a liquid form. So you might be thinking, “Why does liposomal vitamin C work so well?” Or maybe you're like, well, what is liposomal vitamin C? Well, liposomes are little fat compounds that can easily cross through the cell wall, bringing the nutrients directly into the cell. So liposomal vitamin C gets easily absorbed into the cells. For better immunity, take two teaspoons of the liquid Liposomal Vitamin C. And I've got a trick for this too, because when you are taking the liposomal C, what you want to do is you want to put it in your mouth and hold it in your mouth and on your tongue for about 30 seconds before you swallow it.

LEAH: Oh, I didn't even know that.

TERESA: Yeah. So, it helps the absorption with that one a little bit better. So you can order that liposomal vitamin C either on our website at or by calling our office at 651-699-3438, or you can stop by the office and pick it up, and we can mail it to you as well. So there are lots of options for getting that vitamin C. And vitamin C, you know, that is one of the micronutrients we've talked about that helped to support the immune system. It's one of those that it's really important for people to get from their food as well. And we know that we get lots of vitamin C a lot of times people think about oranges, but really fruits and vegetables, all of them are pretty good sources of vitamin C. So, so another reason to eat your fruits and veggies.

LEAH: Yup, absolutely. And yes, it's, so vitamin C would absolutely make sense as I mentioned before break, especially for that older population that naturally again, you just not only have a natural decline in some of your immune function, but vitamin C and the zinc that I mentioned and going into break would be, you know, two great nutrients to really focus on either through foods or perhaps consider as supplements to try to keep that immune system again, engaged and running at full capacity, as much as possible.

A couple other nutrients or a couple other of those micronutrients that we would want to think about, and that the research article points out that we've been talking about here. So we did, we mentioned zinc, but iron is another one, vitamin A and magnesium are a couple other ones. And actually some of like a lot of these nutrients are found in good quality meats. I want to point that out, especially. So think about your beef, chicken, your pork, your turkey; things like that. A lot of these key nutrients are going to be found in, in good quality that, you know…

TERESA: Our kids, they're little Petri dishes of germs.

LEAH: They are. They have a way of challenging even our adult immune systems, you know, especially in those beginning years and stuff like that, but definitely not the case anymore. And I also have tools to take care of my immune system now as well. So if I do kind of feel a little something or feel under the weather, make sure I'm sleeping well, but I'm making sure that I also am really upping my nutrition game, or I have some of those key supplements on board also.

TERESA: Yes. Well, and the reason why I said that is I think that sometimes people think that that's just their lot in life, right? That, “Oh, I'm just that person that just gets sick and that's how it will always be.” But as you're saying here, that's how you were, and now that's not the case for you anymore. So that's just an important thing for people to know is that that's something that you can change. You know, we really can work on our immune system and we can change it and we can become those people who are resistant to those pathogens that we talked about, whether they're bacterial or viral. Okay. So back to fats cause that's my favorite category anyway. So when people removed fats, those good fats and oils from their diets, things like, you know, that, that Leah had mentioned, the coconut oil or avocados or, you know, butter. When they remove them from their diet, what happens is the food didn't taste very good.

So you'd have to add something in to make it taste better, which oftentimes was sugar. Or you just come, you know, replace that food product. So maybe you would have something that's more flour based, such as, you know, things that are low fat naturally like cereal, bagels, crackers. Maybe you added in some chips that aren't necessarily low fat, but they're not healthy fats like you'd want people to be having. Those are the more refined, they're fried in the refined oils. Maybe there was more bread added than, you know, a higher fat meat because we cut out a lot of meats because they were higher in fat.

LEAH: Absolutely.

TERESA: Maybe pasta replaced, you know, your pot roast or something, you know, processed carbs, sugar and flour, they rob the body of nutrients needed to maintain a strong immune system. And I always think of this like a banking system.

So when you eat foods that are high in processed carbs, they don't have any nutrients. So when you eat them, they don't put any money back into the bank being your body. But when you metabolize them, the foods high in flour and sugar and low in nutrients, you have to use up your savings of those nutrients in order to process them. So not only do they not supply you with nutrients, but they don't, but, but you're also using up your storage in order to metabolize those. So we want to stick with nutrient dense foods to, have, have a, a bank with lots of minerals and vitamins in it.

LEAH: I love that analogy. It's the, you know, most people understand the banking system. So bringing that in and tying that into nutrition makes a lot of sense.

TERESA: Well, okay. So like a practical application of this: if you're going to visit your grandma in a care center, please do not bring her a plate of cookies or your leftover Halloween candy. Instead bring her, you know, a nice bowl of raspberries or blueberries. You know, she's probably not getting, well, she might be, but I would say like something really fresh and natural at a care center where there, you know, there's, it's more cafeteria style food a lot of times. Maybe you bring along the avocado that she can add to a green salad. Sweets are easy, but it's not a healthy one. They're an easy gift, but they're not a healthy one to support your grandma's immune system. So, so try to bring her something that will help her, you know, feel good and support that immune system.

LEAH: And they're still tasty.

TERESA: They are tasty.

Effect of obesity on immunity


LEAH: Yeah. Yep. So the article, “Nutrition and Immunity: Lessons for COVID 19”; this is the primary article we're focusing on today. This also looked at the effect of obesity on immunity and susceptibility to infection. The research cited in this article reported that immune function can be diminished with obesity. I'm going to use a couple of like scientific terms here, but just stick with me. Researchers found that the activity of helper T cells, cytotoxic T cells, B cells and natural killer cells is decreased with obesity. So that just means that a lot of these kind of immune cells that, that usually go to battle for us are decreased when we have obesity. So not only is our immune function, when we, when we kind of have too much body fat on us, our immune function is decreased. And the research article also goes on to say that people with obesity also have higher, a higher baseline of inflammatory markers in their blood.

So this means that when we are under attack, when we do get sick, when we do get a disease, when we do get a virus and especially with COVID-19, we hear a lot about that runaway inflammatory response; the cytokine storm, it's a lot easier for people who kind of already have that baseline of inflammation. Their buckets are kind of half full already. It's a lot easier than to overflow that bucket with inflammation when you're starting halfway full, as opposed to starting from an empty bucket or a relatively empty bucket. So, so what we want to do is, again, kind of in what we focus on a lot with our clients is, okay, how do we start shifting inflammation down, but also started kind of helping people lose some of that weight or shift some of that body fat down?

The article goes on to say that compared with healthy weight individuals, those living with obesity have an increased susceptibility to a wide range of bacterial viral and fungal infections. This article stated it clearly by saying, “Those living with obesity can show impaired immune response, predisposing them to infection and being prone to uncontrolled inflammation, predisposing them to adverse consequences of being infected.” So there's that uncontrolled inflammation piece coming back in.

TERESA: Right. And in essence, if you are obese, you are at a higher risk of getting a bacterial, viral or fungal infection, or just getting seriously ill. In the U.S., 70 million adults are considered obese. Almost 40% of adults are obese, which means 40% of the adult population has a deficient immune system.

LEAH: So I think, you know, we'll, we'll launch a little bit more into this on, on the other side of break, but I do want to just set us up to say, I think some of the fad diet programs that are out there, you know, we see these promises to say “lose 30 pounds in 30 days” has actually really turned people away from eating healthy, real food and has kind of set up some unrealistic expectations for what does healthy food look like? What does that process look like of actually keeping healthy food in the house?

TERESA: And losing weight.

LEAH: And losing weight; absolutely.

TERESA: Yeah. So I absolutely agree with that. I think that that is such a true statement. You know, as far as that lose 30 pounds in 30 days has turned people away from eating real food.

LEAH: Yeah, absolutely. So just wanted to kind of lay that out there. We will come back and talk a little bit more about that topic on the other side of our break. So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, we were unfortunately forced to conduct all of our nutrition counseling and nutrition therapy sessions by phone or by Zoom. But the silver lining: surprisingly now most of our clients actually prefer to do a phone appointment or a virtual Zoom appointment. So, so who knew?

The dietitians and nutritionists were on schedule. The client's goals are accomplished without, you know, having to figure out a commute or a drive to one of our offices. For a little while earlier this year, we were overbooked and didn't have a ton of flexibility in our schedules. So for awhile, some new clients had to wait a couple of weeks or even a few months to get an appointment in. But we're happy to say that we have five new dietitians and nutritionists trained and onboard. And so if they have any client questions, we're all ready and willing to help. And if you have a particularly difficult health concern, we often collaborate as a group to help problem solve some of our challenging health concerns, what's going on with clients and things like that.

So if you have been to every specialist around and still don't have an answer to your health issue, we may be able to help you. Just give us a call at (651) 699-3438 to schedule an appointment and we can help you feel better, much better. And we'll be right back.


TERESA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. How are you planning on getting through the cold and flu season and stay healthy this year? Are you going to stop eating sugar, take more vitamin C, get more sleep, drink more water, make sure your vitamin D level is within the 50 to 80 range? We suggest that you add in a good zinc supplement. We also recommend that you read the great article on our website,, titled Natural Support for Your Immune System. There are lots of good ideas to support your immune system.

Another great suggestion that will help you stay on your real food plan and will actually help you lose weight during the holiday season is to take our Nutrition for Weight Loss series that starts Tuesday, November 2nd, and meets from 6:30 to 7:30 PM. It is a live class through Zoom. So you can take the series in the comfort of your own home. I would encourage you to sign up quickly because our classes are filling up fast. Call 651-699-3438 and we will help you get signed up. Or if you prefer, you can sign up online at

Nutrition 4 Weight Loss program

LEAH: And Teresa, before we launch back into our topic, I've got one more class that I think would be helpful. So we know Nutrition for Weight Loss; it's a, it's a 12 week class. So you you're making that commitment for a longer period. But if someone's just looking to dab their toe in, or just looking for maybe a one-time class, we're running two, two classes this week. So it's the same class, but it's being offered at two different times this week. It's a cooking demo class run by our resident chef, Marianne. It's called Cooking in Autumn. So this is a class that's going to be done via Zoom, but Marianne is going to be on Zoom and demonstrating how to prepare some of our favorite fall foods that you might be getting in your CSA or from the farmer's market or even your local grocery store.

So the class is being offered twice this week. So once on Tuesday, which is October 12th at noon, and also on Thursday, October 14th from, from six until 7:15 PM. So this is it's about an hour 15 minute class or so. And the price is $25; very reasonable. And I could listen to Marianne go on and on about, about her passion for food and all the different topics. She’s such a wealth of knowledge and is such a great communicator with that knowledge. So again, this would be another way, like if maybe right now just you can't commit to 12 weeks to a Nutrition for Weight Loss class. Maybe just try one of the cooking classes and see again, what kind of tips you take from there. So again, you can call us at (651) 699-3438, or you can sign up on our website, which is

Cooking Classes

All right. So we, before we went to break, I kind of left off out a little teaser into a topic that said that fad diets may have actually done us a disservice in probably in many ways, but it turns people away from eating and making real healthy food and has kind of set up some unrealistic expectations when it comes to say meal preparation, eating real food and actually weight loss.

Establishing realistic goals with weight loss


So I like to have, you know, when I, when I come across my clients again, when we get to talking in an appointment, sometimes we got to reign things back in a little bit, and we may set a weight loss goal of one to two pounds a month, depending on where they're coming from and what their background is. And then we say, you know, you might want to think about scheduling an appointment every three to four weeks to make sure that we're kind of staying on track, that we're staying in our lane lines. And then when they come back after a month or so, and we're down two pounds, it's like, that's awesome. Because over the course of a year, that means we're down 24 pounds. And no one has ever mad about that. When I, when I talk to my clients, they're like, you know, two pounds in a month might not seem like a lot, but 24 pounds in a year, like, okay, now we're talking.

And this type of eating, not only does it support the weight loss, but it helps you develop a better working immune function. We know that those, the quick fix diet fix quick fix the diet, that's a tongue twister, they don't work and people tend to gain that weight back and more. So maybe think if you have some of those goals around weight loss or getting out of the obesity category with the BMI, that we want to think about this being a long-term goal, maybe over the course of two years, instead of just two months.

TERESA: Right. And this is not to be discouraged, you know, for some, it does go a little faster. But it's good to have those realistic expectations as to not get discouraged and give up if you're not losing 30 pounds in 30 days.

LEAH: Right; absolutely.

Importance of real food to support immune response


TERESA: So back to the article, this article research, it cited so much research actually because it was more of a meta-analysis. So it was a, it, it had lots of citations I should say. But it talked about how poor nutrition leads to nutrient deficiencies and more disease. As dietitians and nutritionists who see the results of good nutrition, we want to address what good nutrition supplies to your immune function. We have hundreds, perhaps thousands of listeners who eat the Weight and Wellness way of real food. They eat grass fed meat or wild caught fish. They eat organic vegetables and they add at least one tablespoon of good natural fat to every meal.

We understand that multiple micronutrients play a vital role in supporting that immune response. So our immune system, it needs, it needs vitamin A, it needs vitamin C, it needs vitamin D, zinc, copper, iron. We also need B vitamins, vitamin E, selenium, magnesium, calcium, and many other vitamins and minerals. It's hard to keep track of them all, but when you eat real food, all of these are supplied to us when we do eat those real foods. And then we have a good immune function and a good defense set up against those pathogens.

LEAH: So it's not always something then that you have to track necessarily. We just kind of automatically, these nutrients are wrapped up in little packages with that real food. But if you have poor nutrition, again, that eating food passed through a fast food window or from the pizza delivery person, you're going to be missing out on a lot of those real food nutrients, which then means maybe we've got some kind of holes basically in our immune function and we're not able to respond or mount a good defense against pathogens. And that can lead to either more frequent illness or more severe illness. And for some of the, for some people even death. So this research article cited research that found a direct relationship between food, nutrition, immune function and infection.

TERESA: So let's look at vitamin D and some studies that support vitamin D and immune function. A large study out of Israel reported that vitamin D deficiency increase the risk of COVID-19. Many other studies discussed the importance of having adequate vitamin D levels for a variety of health concerns. We encourage you to know your vitamin D level. It should be between 50 and 80. If it's below 30, it's definitely a concern.

LEAH: So there's vitamin D. And I think we live in Minnesota. So a lot of us in Minnesota are kind of tuned into vitamin D, but let's talk about zinc for just another minute or two here. So there's a client that we've worked with who lived in a nursing home. She had lost her appetite, kind of stopped eating. But what we found was that her zinc level was low. And just zinc really affects the appetite center in the brain. And so food sources of zinc are, are very important for like meat, seafood, nuts and seeds, and zinc actually helped bring this client's appetite back up.

Digestive health connection to good immune function


TERESA: Yes. And one thing before we go there, I really think that we should hit is that this article, “Nutrition and Immunity: Lessons for COVID-19”, pointed out the importance of maintaining good digestive health for a good immune function. The research, the research cited in this article encouraged the use of daily probiotics, such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli acidophilus, and indicated that these probiotics could help protect against gastrointestinal infection and also respiratory infections. We encourage our clients to take Bifido Balance during the day and Acidophilus at bedtime for good immune support, because we know that these bacteria help to protect us against pathogens. And that 70% of our immune system is housed in our gut.

LEAH: Absolutely, good point. So our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for joining us and have a wonderful day.

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