Foods To Protect Yourself During Cold and Flu Season

November 27, 2023

How often are you getting sick? Do you feel inflamed or feel like you pick up every bug your kids or grandkids bring home? We’ve entered into the cold and flu season, with the added challenge of Covid thrown into the mix. As nutritionists, we believe it is critical during this time to have a steady stream of nutrients going into your body as a preventative measure. On today’s show we’ll tackle the question, “what foods do I need to include in my diet to support my immune system?” and give you examples of what foods are good sources of vitamin C, zinc, selenium, vitamin A, omega-3s, vitamin D3 plus how to supplement if you’re interested in an extra boost.

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MELANIE: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. I'm Melanie Beasley, and I'm a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, and I'm in studio with Britni Vincent, who's also a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. So often when people hear the word dietitian, they think she is just going to take away everything I love to eat. Right?

BRITNI: Absolutely. And we are not all about that.

MELANIE: We are not about that. We want you eating. So, in the past, dietitians, we were known to have clients count calories, limit fat, avoid red meat. Well, we are not that old fashioned type of dietitian. We're young and hip, right?

Real food helps with everything!

BRITNI: Absolutely. Well, we actually teach clients to eat more, more meat and more vegetables and more fat to stimulate their metabolism for really overall health and some weight loss, cellular health. And we find that as clients eat more of the real foods in balance, they experience more energy. They have fewer cravings. They have better moods, radiant skin, strong bones. They build muscle and lose fat. It's really an equalizer to health. The very same foods that we recommend for weight loss are the same foods that support the immune system during the cold and flu season.

BRITNI: That is the beauty of real food. It helps with everything. We don't need a separate way of eating for your immune health or your headaches or anything like that. It's all real food.

MELANIE: It's all real food. And it really makes sense. It's very simple. I'm surprised we still get paid for this because it is a simple job. It is a simple message. Well, from media coverage, we know that COVID is back, right?


MELANIE: And many are experiencing colds and flu symptoms. Well, as nutritionists, we believe it is critical during this time to have a steady stream of nutrients going into your body as a preventative measure, not just one salad a week.

BRITNI: Daily, trying to eat to prevent illness, really what we're after.

Nutrient dense foods are supportive of immune function

MELANIE: Because we need those nutrients. And when you hear the word, nutrients, you may think I need to start taking vitamin C or zinc. Well, as dietitians and nutritionists, we think what foods do I need to include in my diet to support my immune system? Nutrient dense foods are very protective of the immune function. The orange juice industry has really convinced people over the years to buy and drink orange juice at the first sign of a cold coming on. Hmm. What do we think about that, Britni?

BRITNI: I, you know, I remember chugging glasses of orange juice, well, because it tastes delicious. But then also when I was sick, because Mom's like, well, it's great vitamin C.

MELANIE: Vitamin C.

BRITNI: It'll help you get better faster.

MELANIE: And it would, if you had a sore throat, it burned your throat. Yeah. I clearly remember drinking the orange juice.

BRITNI: It backfires.

MELANIE: Yes. The orange juice industry was really good at telling us that. But however, it does have vitamin C. So is it the best choice to fight off virus? Like Britni says, there's a backfire. Orange juice contains a high dose of vitamin C, but it also contains over 6 1/2 teaspoons of natural sugar in an 8 ounce serving.

BRITNI: That's a lot.

MELANIE: That's a lot. And in the past, when we talk about immune function, we talk about sugar feeds both bacteria and viruses, so it suppresses your immune system.

What are some good sources of vitamin C?

BRITNI: Yeah. So let me give you some alternatives to that glass of orange juice for your vitamin C.


BRITNI: If you eat yellow bell pepper, you get 340 milligrams of vitamin C. That's a lot of vitamin C.

MELANIE: That's a lot of vitamin C.

BRITNI: I love to snack on those. And you can get them in the mini form or I eat a big one, kind of like you would eat an apple.

MELANIE: Do you like the big ones or the little ones?

BRITNI: Either. I like them both.

MELANIE: I knew you were going to say that. I like the big ones.

BRITNI: Yeah. Or a cup of broccoli: 100 milligrams of vitamin C. And then one medium orange is 80 milligrams of vitamin C. So it's interesting, we hear so much about orange juice and oranges being such a great source when really broccoli, yellow bell peppers are more. They're higher.

MELANIE: They're higher and they're lower in the natural sugar.


Meat, especially beef, is an immune boosting food group

MELANIE: So you're not getting that sugar spike. And it might surprise you that one type of nutrient dense food filled with a variety of immune supporting vitamins and minerals is meat; meat; a small two to three ounce steak is good for your immune system.

And also a steak can kick start that metabolism if you're trying to lose weight. It revs you up, it revs your metabolism. My husband can't eat meat before he goes to bed too late or he's revved and he can't sleep. So, a small steak contains viral fighting nutrients. For example, a 3 ounce steak contains 10 essential nutrients to build a viral fighting immune system.

BRITNI: I'm sure some of you are wondering how. How does that steak actually help my immune system?

MELANIE: Prove it.

BRITNI: Yeah. Meat, especially beef, supplies your body with sufficient iron, zinc, B6, and B12. People who often don't get enough meat in their diet have a lower white and red blood cell count. And people with a low iron level often have a lower phagocyte activity. And phagocytes, what those do is they essentially kind of are the Pac Men and try to get rid of those viruses and bacteria before they become problematic.

MELANIE: Yeah, gobble them up.

BRITNI: So, those are really necessary for proper immune function.

MELANIE: All the more reason to eat your steak.


MELANIE: Or maybe grass fed hamburger.

BRITNI: Yeah. Whatever you prefer.

MELANIE: Yeah. So, a small steak or a three ounce beef patty contains about 26 grams of protein. We break down or digest that meat in our small intestinal tract. Meat breaks down into amino acids that are used to make and repair muscle tissue. In addition, these amino acids are used in our brain for the production of neurotransmitters to help us have good moods, feel better, not be depressed, or have anxiety.

Zinc is immune supportive

BRITNI: And meat is broken down or digested in that small intestinal tract to make our B12, B6, which are also necessary to support that good immune system. That small steak also contains zinc, another nutrient that helps keep you healthy during the cold and flu season. And I think we've heard a lot more about zinc in the past few years with COVID.

MELANIE: I remember you couldn't even buy it in the stores during the, the, the biggest peak of COVID or vitamin C. People, people got wise to their immune systems. But you have to think about nature knows what, how to put together a package and the package of meat and the zinc in meat is going to be something a little more bioavailable than what you pick up in the grocery store in a bottle.

BRITNI: Absolutely.

MELANIE: And it tastes a little more delicious, I think.

BRITNI: It's so true. Yes.

MELANIE: Well, the National Institute of Health, the NIH, reported that zinc is critical for the normal development and function of immune cells. Again, during the cold and flu season, it is important to have that adequate level of zinc. Certainly, taking zinc in a supplement form is supportive, but getting zinc from a beef patty and steak may actually be a preferred method for your body, like we mentioned. And a serving of beef supplies you with 39 percent of your recommended daily allowance, the RDA for zinc. 39%.

BRITNI: That's a lot.

MELANIE: That is a lot.

Selenium supports immune function

BRITNI: You know, another important nutrient to support immune function is the mineral, selenium.

BRITNI: And I don't think we hear a ton about selenium.


BRITNI: But when you are deficient in selenium and you come down with a cold or other viral infection, you may actually have a more severe case of the illness. And again, a good source of selenium is red meat. So beef contains selenium and a serving of beef as little as three ounces, that three ounce steak supplies up to 38 percent of your recommended daily allowance.

MELANIE: Wonderful. I want to talk some more about that when we get back from break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight Wellness. I'm Melanie Beasley, a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, who's been working with clients for over 35 years. Joining me as our cohost is Britni Vincent, also a Registered and Licensed Dietitian.

She understands and supports women through challenging hormonal issues such as PMS, PCOS, fertility issues, perimenopause, and menopause. So stay tuned as we share how real food supports a good immune function. We'll be right back.


BRITNI: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. 20 years ago, we started broadcasting Dishing Up Nutrition on MyTalk 107 radio station. Our goal then was to help educate listeners about eating real foods and health benefits they will experience. It has been a wonderful journey making so many friends and listeners. Thank you for either listening to the live show or the Dishing Up Nutrition podcast. We really do appreciate your support.

Foods high in selenium

So before break, we were talking about selenium. And we've been talking about beef and we were talking about a three ounce portion to give you these certain amounts of selenium and zinc, but really for most people, we do recommend four ounces…

MELANIE: Even five.

BRITNI: Sometimes 5, especially men, six. Yeah. So don't be afraid to eat a little bit more because that protein itself is really important for our immune function as well.

MELANIE: Exactly. And I am a five to six ouncer kind of a meal girl. That protein is just what I need.


MELANIE: So I agree with you. You know, other foods containing selenium are seafood, organ meats such as liver and Brazil nuts. Also, to achieve higher levels of zinc and selenium in your meat, we always recommend grass fed meat.

BRITNI: Yes. It's going to be more nutrient dense.

MELANIE: Yeah. We want that omega-3 fat from grass fed meats. And it takes more than just eating beef to have a strong viral immune fighting system. Research suggests that by providing your body with a variety of key nutrients from a real food, balanced diet is one of the best ways to prevent getting colds and other viral infections.

Kale and other vegetables are immune-boosting foods

A food I include in my diet daily is kale because kale is known to boost immunity. I add kale to my protein shake, it blends up, turns a little green. I'm not afraid of the green. It tastes delicious. It really tastes like nothing. So I buy kale, wash, stem, freeze. And then I just break off a chunk and throw it in there.

Honestly, when I haven't had enough cruciferous vegetables, I make a green smoothie and then eat my protein. So I'm putting it all in there, splash of lemon juice and some stevia so it doesn't taste like I'm eating a garden. I just drink that down with my steak. I did it last night actually. And it had leftover field greens that were going to go a little south.

So I just freeze them. I just freeze anything that's going to go, like field greens, kale. Cucumbers are great; chunks of cucumbers in your smoothie. Double dog dare our listeners today to make that.

BRITNI: Other than the color, you're really not even going to notice it's there.

MELANIE: No. And especially if I put in enough stevia to sweeten it and that three tablespoons of lemon juice, it freshens it up.


MELANIE: Yeah. And I'm getting some vitamin C from my lemon juice.

BRITNI: And you could also, you know, one thing I did last night, I have three little ones in daycare, so all sorts of germs.

MELANIE: You, you're living in a petri dish.

BRITNI: Yeah. Everybody's been healthy so far, so that's great. But last night I made a chicken peanut dish, and so I blended all the ingredients for the sauce. And then I included some kale in that instead of having the chunks of kale in it. So then nobody even knew it was there. It was green.

MELANIE: And they all ate it.

BRITNI: None the wiser. They all ate it.

MELANIE: Tricky, tricky, mom. This is what we do.


MELANIE: I love it. That's great. You know, and that kale also contains vitamin A, which is another immunity boosting nutrient.

Blueberries: another immune supporting food

BRITNI: You know, another of my favorite foods to support my immune system is blueberries.


BRITNI: Yeah, and love to eat them plain just as my concentrated carbohydrate with breakfast or I'll buy frozen blueberries and throw that into my morning shake. So you could combine that kale, the blueberries, your protein powder, some sort of healthy fat, and that is a wonderful way to start your morning, tons of immune boosting nutrients in that smoothie.

MELANIE: And it tastes delicious. It sounds off putting. Trust us. And I start with everything frozen and then my water's room temperature.

BRITNI: Yeah. It's, you know, keep everything frozen, easy that way.

MELANIE: You always have and don't have to worry about it going bad. We pay enough for groceries right now.

BRITNI: Yes. And oftentimes, you know, frozen fruits and vegetables are cheaper too.

MELANIE: Yes. And they're flash frozen, so they're just as high in nutrients. I get that question a lot.

BRITNI: Yeah, I do too. And you know, living in Minnesota in the winter, sometimes they might contain even more nutrients because things are traveling a long way to get to our grocery stores.

MELANIE: That's true. That's a really good point. Here's another trick I do with blueberries. When I'm making a salad that calls for grapes, I substitute blueberries.

BRITNI: Great idea.

Blueberries contain vitamin C & antioxidants

MELANIE: It's much, blueberries are lower in sugar. I think they taste better. They're higher in immune nutrients, like vitamin C and antioxidants. And blueberries also support memory function. So vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes that free radicals that can cause damage to the cells and lead to inflammation. Vitamin C is an immune system booster and is good for your brain, your eyes, your hearing. So remember, vitamin C helps to build collagen and support your bones and even help keep wrinkles away and we cannot make our own vitamin C. So we have to get it from food and some supplements.

Fatty fish contains nutrients that are immune supportive

BRITNI: Mm hmm. And research suggests that providing your body with the correct key nutrients from a real food balanced diet is one of the best ways to prevent colds and flus. You know, we've talked about getting nutrients from supplements, but fish, especially fatty fish is another great choice.

This high fat fish contains omega 3s, which is a natural anti-inflammatory. And the immune system works better when there is less inflammation. Fatty fish is also high in vitamin A. And if you're not a fish lover, you can take cod liver oil. So that's going to give you some omega 3s in addition to that vitamin A.

Cod liver oil also contains a little bit of vitamin D. You know, generally not enough for people. I take additional vitamin D with K2, and I need like 6 to 7,000 on a daily basis to maintain an optimal vitamin D level.

MELANIE: Interesting.

BRITNI: Because I've been tested, so I've, I've identified that.

MELANIE: You know where you are.

BRITNI: But I, we often recommend 4,000 to 5,000 in the winter, unless you know your levels.

MELANIE: Mm hmm. Mm hmm.

Eggs: another immune boosting food

BRITNI: And, you know, besides fish, another food that contains vitamin D are egg yolks from chickens raised outdoors in the sun. And the problem is that very few farmers are letting their chickens outside. Or there's not that many chickens that are truly pasture raised. So, that is the key word to look for if you can when you're purchasing eggs: pasture raised eggs.

MELANIE: It's really fun to have conventional eggs, pasture raised eggs, crack one of each in the skillet and look at the yolk color and you can see the nutrients literally a darker orange color in that yolk.

BRITNI: Yeah. It's a drastic, drastic difference.

MELANIE: It's fun to do with kids or grandkids.

BRITNI: Yeah. Yeah. And if you buy eggs at the farmer's market and know your farmer, you know, just ask questions, right, to see how those chickens are raised. Two, three, four eggs for breakfast, that would be another immune boosting food.

MELANIE: Yum; love, love those eggs. And if you're sick of eggs, then maybe you put eggs in things.

BRITNI: Yes, great point. Or sometimes like an egg bake is more appealing for people instead of just scrambling them or frying them. And then with an egg bake, you can load it with vegetables. You can make it ahead of time or you can put them in little muffin tins.

MELANIE: Yes, or, you know, if you can't have cheese in there, add a little extra bacon.

BRITNI: Delicious. Well, it is time for our second break already.

MELANIE: You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. The next two months can be challenging for all of you who have decided to follow a real food eating plan. We understand. Perhaps an appointment or several appointments with a nutritionist will help you get the support that you need. You can check out our profiles at our website,, and set up an appointment. Think of starting the new year without any regrets.

Schedule Nutrition Counseling


Basic supplements to support immunity

BRITNI: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. I am often asked, “What can I take to avoid getting every virus that comes into the office?” Well, depending on what a person is eating, I first recommend cutting out sugar and alcohol or at least limiting it. Some basic supplements I would recommend are Complete Vitamin C 1,000: up to three a day, you know, one to two teaspoons of cod liver oil and then vitamin D3 plus K2: 4,000 to 5000 IUs. And then a probiotic in addition to that.

MELANIE: Huge, huge for your immune system is to have the gut garden in good shape with a good probiotic.

BRITNI: Yeah. Because research has found the majority, you know, up to 70 to 80 percent of our immune function is in our intestinal tract.

MELANIE: Got to have it healthy. So listeners, if you're thinking, oh, I always have bloating, I always have gas, I always have diarrhea or constipation or heartburn, that is your intestinal tract, which means it's compromised. And you need to get that straightened out maybe with some help from one of us at Nutritional Weight and Wellness; here to help you, but get some help to get that straightened out so your immune system is on par.

BRITNI: Yeah, you know, I had a client that started seeing me last spring. And she shared that she was getting sick every single month with something. And so she never got to the point of feeling back to normal and healthy. And we put her on these basic supplements, got her eating more real food, and she hasn't been sick since then.

MELANIE: She must love you.

BRITNI: Yeah. So there, there's nothing special. It's just eating real food, getting some basic immune supporting supplements on board, and yeah, that bumped up her immune system a lot.

MELANIE: I love that. It is, yeah, getting hit every month.

BRITNI: Oh, it's awful.

MELANIE: It's hard, and it takes a toll on the body.

BRITNI: Yeah, it really does.

MELANIE: Yeah. When we started our discussion today about foods for immune health, we said the same foods we recommend for weight loss are the same foods that support immune function. Again, we recommend organic eggs from pasture raised chickens and the egg yolk contains that fatty acid, also DHA for memory and vitamin D for immune support; not enough vitamin D, I don't think, to just only eat egg yolks, but it does. It's a natural source of vitamin D. We also suggest eating vegetables for breakfast.

So I think that is a new concept. Some of you may shudder, but if you think about circling back to the egg bake we were talking about, if it has some mushrooms, peppers, onions, something like that, it's, you don't really notice it. Or an omelet. You don't really notice it. And the egg bake can be frozen in squares. So if you're a rushy, rush morning person, I have clients, they will grab it and then warm it up and eat it at their desk at work.

BRITNI: Mm hmm. And putting together an egg bake takes 10 minutes.

MELANIE: Yeah. We've got a good one on our website.


MELANIE: And there are alternatives if you are somebody who can't have dairy like you and I.


MELANIE: So, and it's still delicious.

Soups: a delicious, nutritious way to support immune health

BRITNI: Yeah. You know, this time of year, I love making soup. So oftentimes I make some sort of soup every week, but one type that I will do is I'll roast some vegetables, so maybe some broccoli, peppers, onions, some winter squash. And then I put that in my Vitamix with a little bit of bone broth and some seasoning and it makes a really kind of luscious, creamy soup and then have my side of protein and I add some oil to the soup too for some healthy fat.

And then we've got zinc, selenium, vitamin C, B6, B12, all in that meal. And again, does not take much effort, really. And you could do a variety of different vegetables.

MELANIE: It takes that good blender. You need that good blender to really get it smooth and creamy. I do the same thing with roasted vegetables, but I will blend; I have a Vitamix as well, and I will blend and use that as a sauce to put over chicken or fish. And that's kind of a nice comfort, easy way. I love chicken thighs that way.

BRITNI: Yeah. Delicious. I've even added, instead of adding dairy, some cashews into the blender as the healthy fat and that makes it more creamy.

MELANIE: Raw cashews; yes! That's, I have done that with hemp kernels and blend that up and yeah, it makes it creamy. It's a healthy fat.

BRITNI: So many options.

MELANIE: So many options. But when you throw everything in a blender and blend for the sauce, you, it's not fancy. And I always put garlic in there. Garlic is so good for us. So, cause garlic.

Keep inflammation under control to support immune function

BRITNI: One other thing to think about in regards to supporting your immune function is so many individuals nowadays have this chronic low level of inflammation.

MELANIE: I feel like we are probably one of the most inflamed countries in the world with the most disease and immunity issues; autoimmune as well as immunity issues. And what is happening to our bodies is dramatically affected by what we're eating. And also how we combat the onslaught of chemical exposure, you know, on the outside is by having these phytonutrients, bioflavonoids, vitamins, minerals, micronutrients that we get from food. So if we are not eating the real food that has these powerhouse fighters, we are going to be compromised.

BRITNI: Yeah. And when you're chronically inflamed, your immune function is just not working as efficiently.

MELANIE: Yes, and so inflammation is the leading cause of all disease and it starts with getting ill. I mean that's a sign. If you're getting ill all the time, two, three, four, five times a year, you have to ask, am I running around with this low grade inflammation? My clients are pretty savvy. When they come in, they'll say, I feel inflamed. They know. I mean, we are our body's best doctor.

BRITNI: Absolutely.

MELANIE: So, if you feel inflamed, you don't have to feel that way. It's fixable.


MELANIE: And it starts with eating some of these real foods that have the fighters: vitamin C, zinc, selenium, the bioflavonoids, the, the fighters for you to fight off that inflammation, get that down. Your immune system can kick in and really fight for you a little better. So if a virus comes along, it's not something you have to live with for the next week and a half.

BRITNI: Yep. You're kicking it before it, it starts to wreak havoc.

MELANIE: Yeah. And, and that's kind of our goal is eating these things. So if you think, if you open your refrigerator this morning, you look inside your refrigerator, do you have a colorful refrigerator? Is it full of the colors of the rainbow that come from real food? I'm not talking about a Skittles package, you know, or a Tootsie Pop package.

BRITNI: Not the fake colors.

MELANIE: Not the fake dyes. But real colors, food that will spoil. Maybe it's in your freezer. But do you see the dark blueberries? Do you see the bright peppers? Do you see the dark green of the broccoli and the avocados and, you know, olives and tomatoes and oranges that are going to be fighting for you? Is that what you're consuming or is it sitting in your fridge and it's going bad because you're rushing around and you're buying, but you're not consuming?

BRITNI: I think that happens to a lot of people.

MELANIE: And it's expensive.

BRITNI: There's some good intentions.

MELANIE: And it's expensive.

BRITNI: Yeah. It is already time for our last break.


More on immune supportive supplements

MELANIE: You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition and we are discussing foods and supplements that are key to supporting a good functioning immune system. It is common knowledge that immune function starts in the gut. I think we've mentioned it several times. So I recommend taking two Bifido Balance capsules before each meal, two to three Acidophilus capsules at bedtime. The good bacteria in the probiotic crowds out the bad bacteria and you have a better immune system. Good immunity starts in your intestinal tract. We'll be right back.


BRITNI: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. I often get asked, “What could I just keep around in my medicine cabinet in case I'm exposed to some sort of virus or I start to feel symptoms?” And oftentimes, my recommendation is a supplement called Wellness Formula.

MELANIE: Oh, I love that.

BRITNI: It's got a variety of different herbs, vitamins, minerals. It really supports your immune function in multiple different ways. And so you could take, you know, one or two caps on a daily basis, just preventatively, or if you've been exposed. And then if you feel some symptoms coming on, I take it right away.

MELANIE: They have a loading dose on the bottle that I do the same.

BRITNI: Yep. Six caps. You can take it three times a day. So it sounds like a lot, but it really does work.

MELANIE: It really works. My children, my adult children keep it in their medicine cabinet. They're such believers. I keep it in my medicine cabinet and I take it, I will take six the day before I'm going to get on an airplane.

BRITNI: Great idea.

MELANIE: And then the morning of. Because it's just, like you said, it's a Petri dish on an airplane. I feel like, who wants to show up and get sick? So instead of like the sugary, bubbly drink that is out there for your immune system, I will take Wellness Formula, maybe some extra vitamin C.

BRITNI: Perfect.

MELANIE: Yeah. No one wants to be sick on vacation.


MELANIE: So when we went to break, we were talking about inflammation and how important it is to bring that inflammation down.

More ideas to get a wide array of nutrients

BRITNI: Yeah. And then trying to eat a variety of different colors because by doing that, then you're getting all of these nutrients that we've been talking about today.

MELANIE: So I love what you said about the soup, the blended soup. I also love to make soups and I'm kind of lazy. I mean, I've raised my children.

BRITNI: You're done cooking elaborately.

MELANIE: I'm done cooking, you know, in my brain. So I am a big fan of my instant pot. And so I love, we have a hamburger soup recipe. I will do that one in the Instant Pot. The other thing I'll do is random vegetables I need to use up. Some broth and chunks of raw meat. I put it in the Instant Pot literally for five minutes. You're done. Your soup is done. Five minutes in your Instant Pot. I don't have a recipe. Listeners, if you're thinking, what is her recipe?

I don't have a recipe, but always involve the onions and garlic and chunks of meat. And then I throw in whatever chopped veggies I have. If I need to use up celery, if I need to use up broccoli, cauliflower. You can throw in a can of tomatoes, whatever your flavor profile that you love. If you throw it in there with some good broth, you're good to go.

You've got soup and it's delicious. And then you can top it. My favorite is I top it with hot sauce because I love everything with hot sauce. But you could do a scoop of sour cream, you know, organic sour cream, you could do if you wanted to make it creamy. You could throw in a block of cream cheese when it's hot if you wanted it to be creamy and you want that healthy fat.

BRITNI: You could put some avocado on top. Sometimes I do that with soup.

MELANIE: Sprigs of cilantro if it's got a Mexican profile. Maybe you use taco seasoning in there. Squeeze a lime over the bowl; freshens it up. And the lime has, guess what, vitamin C. So, I do love my lime and lemon juice to freshen up food. It's amazing what a little acid will do to brighten up your food and make it interesting.

BRITNI: Yeah. I almost always have that in my fridge as well.

MELANIE: Mm hmm. There is a great, I think, I pick it up, I don't know if I can say the name of the store, big box store. It's the one, it's a cult, starts with a C: love! And, they have like a, an organic volcanic lemon juice. I keep it in my refrigerator at all times because I don't always have a lemon to squeeze.

BRITNI: Yeah. Neither do I. You can get the real lemon or lime juice always in your fridge.

MELANIE: Yes. Yeah. I belong to the big box C store cult.

Recap of immune boosting nutrients

BRITNI: Well, Mel, I think let's recap all of the immune boosting nutrients that we've talked about today.

MELANE: I love it.

BRITNI: So zinc: huge, huge player in our immune function. It's an anti-inflammatory, acts as an antioxidant. Researchers call it the gatekeeper of your immune system because it's responsible for making all your immune cells function properly.

You know, oysters are the highest food source of zinc. I don't think most of you are eating oysters on a regular basis. If you are, more power to you. Otherwise, beef, pumpkin seeds, you know, basically any sort of meat, shrimp, lentils, those would all be other sources of zinc.

MELANIE: Canned sardines; talked about those in the past. They are actually delicious now. Yep. And selenium is another one that we touched on. And dietary selenium is a one, two punch for keeping you healthy. And researchers say it not only activates your immune system when there's a threat, but it also tells your immune system when to pump the brakes. And that means it, it can keep your immune system from going overboard and that's an autoimmune situation where no, we don't want that. So selenium is a really good gatekeeper as well. It, it gives us guardrails, right? So not go into autoimmune system issue when we overreact, but not underreact and get sick.

BRITNI: And, you know, another good source of selenium we didn't talk about: Brazil nuts.



MELANIE: With just three Brazil nuts and you get all the selenium you pretty much need for the day.


MELANIE: If you like them. If you don't love Brazil nuts, good fatty fish, again, like halibut, canned sardines, lean meats, maybe some organic cottage cheese, eggs. And, a really good full fat yogurt with probiotics, some lentils. Those are all good sources of selenium. Let's talk a little bit about vitamin C because we touched on that.

BRITNI: Yeah. I, you know, I think that's one everybody's heard of. Vitamin C, it's good for your immune system and it really is one of the biggest immune system boosters of all of them. And researchers have found that individuals that are deficient in vitamin C are more prone to getting sick.

MELANIE: And we're not talking, again, we're not talking about the orange juice or any kind of juice. Real food.

BRITNI: So it's fine. It's fine. Have a, have a medium orange.

MELANIE: Have a medium orange. Have some strawberries.

BRITNI: Yes. That's different than drinking a big glass of orange juice.

MELANIE: Right. You wouldn't sit down and eat 12 oranges.

BRITNI: No. No. Or the bell peppers, you know, broccoli, those are all other sources of vitamin C.

MELANIE: And another one that's a big supporting vitamin is vitamin B6, which is, helps with biochemical reactions in your immune system. And one of the major roles is producing white blood cells and T cells. Those are your Pac Men that fight for you. These are the cells that respond to ward off those invaders like viruses and bacteria.

And good sources of B6 are going to be beef and liver, chicken breast, some potatoes, turkey, bananas, again with the cottage cheese, winter squash, which is very timely for right now, cold water fish like salmon and tuna: great sources of B6. Also, vitamin D. Talk about vitamin D because if your vitamin D is low, you're going to be sick and tired.

BRITNI: Yeah, definitely. And it will probably affect your mood as well, negatively, if you're low on vitamin D. So vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin. So if you're not getting enough sun exposure, which realistically most of us in Minnesota…

MELANIE: Never get enough sun exposure.

BRITNI: We’re not. So, vitamin D3 is, there's an increasingly supported correlation to your level of vitamin D and your immune system's ability to fight off invaders. Tons of research with vitamin D and COVID, again, supporting that people that had a higher level of vitamin D were not as affected by COVID. They didn't have as bad of symptoms.

MELANIE: And the lung involvement was significantly less.

BRITNI: Yep. So, we do recommend getting that checked annually. We want it to be between 50 and 80.

MELANIE: Yeah, that's the optimal range to protect your immune system.


MELANIE: Well, we're at the end of the show, and 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 listening and have a wonderful day.

BRITNI: Thank you.

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