Folate Fundamentals: Understanding Nutritional Needs of Vitamin B9 and Its Role in Pregnancy

September 21, 2023

Uncover the crucial role of folate in a healthy pregnancy and explore why optimizing folate intake is essential for expectant mothers. 

Getting deep into individual micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) is not the best approach to nutrition care. Food is complex. The body is complex. And to zero in on one nutrient does a disservice to you and your health. But in the case of folate during pregnancy, it’s important to highlight the need for this vitamin and why. 

Let’s delve into what folate is, explore its nutritional needs, and discuss its significance during pregnancy.

Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is one of the water-soluble vitamins that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions. It’s especially important during pregnancy due to its role in preventing birth defects and supporting maternal health.

Starting in our teen and adult years, we need 400 micrograms of folate per day. And during pregnancy this is increased to 600-800 micrograms per day, this is due to the additional demands of your developing fetus. 

As a result, most healthcare providers will recommend that people who are pregnant take a prenatal supplement in addition to a well-balanced diet rich in sources of folate. B9 is found in foods like greens (spinach and kale), legumes (lentils and chickpeas), citrus fruits, fortified cereals, and avocado.

So what is the significance of folate during pregnancy?

  • Folate is vital to the synthesis and repair of our DNA, and as a result is necessary for cell division and growth. This aids normal tissue growth during your pregnancy to optimize maternal health.
  • Folate supports the production of red blood cells, who are our transporters for oxygen throughout the body. This function helps you in the prevention of anemia during pregnancy.
  • And most significantly, folate is vital for the proper development of the neural tube, which eventually becomes the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Insufficient folate during this period can lead to neural tube defects like spina bifida.

Meeting folate nutritional needs, especially during pregnancy, is essential for both maternal and fetal health. It’s recommended to work with a healthcare provider like a Dietitian to help guide you in meeting your folate needs. Dietitians can provide personalized guidance based on your individual health and pregnancy circumstances – both in terms of diet and supplementation. To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers – take a look at our Services page.



Nutrition Strategies for a Healthy Pregnancy with Gestational Diabetes

September 13, 2023

Discover effective gestational diabetes nutrition strategies and management tips, helping you ensure a healthy pregnancy and optimal outcomes!

There are health conditions that impact women specifically during pregnancy. One of the more common ones is gestational diabetes (GDM). GDM is characterized by high blood sugar levels due to the body not producing enough insulin to meet the increased demands during pregnancy.

Doctors will screen for GDM at the 24-28 weeks mark of pregnancy, and if diagnosed, it is important to seek the care of a Dietitian for support in managing the condition and avoid further complications. Proper nutrition management will directly work to manage blood sugar levels to significantly improve outcomes for both you and your baby.

General nutrition requirements are similar to those during pregnancy. Energy needs, carbohydrate, protein, and fat requirements all stay the same with a focus more on the quality and distribution of meals. Let’s discuss nutrition strategies for GDM:

  • Monitoring blood glucose levels. With any type of diabetes, the goal is to maintain your blood sugar levels to avoid having super highs and super lows, frequently in the day. Take time to monitor your blood glucose levels as recommended by your doctor, keep a journal to track what you ate and how your levels responded. Start noticing patterns and how your body reacts to different foods and meals so you can best manage.
  • Food Choices & Diet Quality. Keeping your blood glucose within range and preventing any spikes & crashes, requires focusing on eating balanced meals to allow for a slower digestion process. Balanced meals include:
    • Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains like brown rice, beans and legumes like lentils, and/or starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes. Also focus on reducing intake of foods/drinks high in refined sugar.
    • Foods rich in fiber like whole grains, legumes, fruits & vegetables. Fiber works to slow down the digestion process and with that is able to prevent major spikes in blood sugar levels, and keep you feeling fuller longer.
    • Healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds are an essential part of the diet during pregnancy, providing important nutrients. They are also beneficial to our blood sugar levels after a meal.
    • And lastly, your meal should always include a lean protein like poultry, fish, tofu, or legumes. In addition to being helpful in managing blood sugar levels, protein will keep you feeling satisfied and provide essential nutrition during pregnancy.
  • Daily Meal Pattern. Another important element of managing your blood glucose levels is not only what you eat but how much and when. Create a meal schedule that works for you, aim to spread your meals out throughout the day – avoid extreme hunger or extreme fullness. Use your plate as a guide for how much to eat each meal. Consider using measuring cups and food scales too.
  • Physical activity. Aim to include pregnancy-safe movement into your daily routine. Avoid too much sedentary time and focus on light movement after meals as a way to help control blood sugar levels. **Speak to your doctor about what is safe/allowed for you during this time**

Having to manage a condition like GDM on top of being pregnant, can be challenging.  But with support and guidance from a Dietitian, as well as other healthcare professionals, you can create a personalized plan that works for you and properly manage and monitor your progress.

By making informed food choices, staying active, and following your healthcare provider’s guidance, you can optimize your health and the health of your baby. To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers – take a look at our Services page.



A Parent’s Nutrition Guide for the Preschool Years

August 1, 2023

As your child ages from a toddler to a young child, food and nutrition goes through many phases in their lives in just these few years. Use this guide to help you as you work with your child to develop their eating habits for life!

Co-author: YeaJin Kim 

I am personally so glad we stopped using the term “terrible twos”. These are actually some of the best years! Watching your child go through the rapid growth and development of ages 2 to 5 can be really fun and exciting. As they discover themselves and the world around them, and especially as they explore their eating habits and what activities they enjoy. 

Navigating the nutritional needs of your children at this age is dependent on your child’s preferences, their developing skills – motor and cognitive, as well as how they learn to communicate with you. 

Check out our nutrition guide below of what to keep in mind during these years. 

  • Cultivating environment. Where, when and how are just as important to a child’s eating as is the what. You can develop healthy eating habits in your child by focusing on:
    • 1) where they eat – at a table, minimal screens and with family
    • 2) when they eat – at designated meal and snack times, as in with boundaries, so they understand they are not always eating,
    • and 3) how they eat – with the proper utensils and table manners. 
    • And as a bonus – 4) with an understanding of what they are eating – discussing what the meal is and probing them to share their thoughts and opinions.
  • Quality of diet. The habits your child builds now when it comes to food will be impactful on them in their later years. Take this time to introduce them to a wide variety of whole foods – grains (e.g., wheat, rice, oats), colorful vegetables, fruits (fresh or frozen), low-fat dairy, and protein sources like lean meat, fish, nuts, seeds, peas, and beans. Be mindful of their intake, likes and dislikes, and prepare the food to meet their developmental age.
  • Avoid ultra-processed and high calorie foods. These are the years where your child is developing their taste preferences and the more exposure they have to a variety of whole, natural ingredients, will give them a better foundation for healthy eating as adults. Serving large amounts of energy dense, nutrient-poor foods such as soda and candy, can hinder this process. Educate your children about the importance of including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to all their meals. And be mindful to teach them that ultra-processed foods are rare treats.
  • Meeting their needs. Children are always in growth mode – some stages are more rapid than others. As a result keeping up with their micronutrient needs is essential. Focus on vitamins and minerals such as calcium (found in dairy & fortified products), vitamin B12 and iron (found in animal products), vitamin D (fortified dairy and eggs, and exposure to sun), zinc (meat and fish), and fiber (fruits, veggies, and complex carbs).

And lastly, don’t overlook the importance of how you talk about food and eating with your children at this age – not labeling food as “good” or “bad” rather using appropriate, open-minded language, encouraging them to express their preferences and hunger/fullness levels.

By creating a relaxed mealtime environment, offering a balanced and varied diet, being mindful of diet quality, and monitoring nutrient intake, during the preschool years – you can have a lifelong impact on your child’s eating habits and their overall health.

This is a learning process for you as a parent and for your child, don’t hesitate to seek out help and support during this period of dietary transitions. To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers for working with this population  – take a look at our Services page.



Year 1: What to Know About Your Baby’s Nutrition

June 21, 2023

Caring for an infant can be summed up as sleep, change, and feed. Since feeding is a top 3 task, let’s discuss what you should know about feeding your newborn infant 

Co-author: YeaJin Kim 

One of the first bonding experiences between Mom and Baby is feeding. It is emotionally rewarding but can be overwhelming. Your child relies on you throughout their childhood to feed them properly and in pace with their growth and development. 

Throughout the first year of life your baby will be rapidly growing and changing. An infant should double their birth weight by the time they reach 4 to 6 months of age, and triple it by 1 year. And with this rapid growth, their diet and method of feeding will also go through frequent shifts and transitions.

What should you know about feeding your newborn infant in year 1? 

If this is your first time caring for a newborn baby, it can be even more overwhelming to know where to begin. To provide you with some guidance, this blog post will focus on the general nutrition needs for infants aged between 0 and 1 year old.

  • Choose a feeding method. According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, exclusive breastfeeding is the recommended method of feeding for the first 6 months. However, do your research and decide what is best for you, your lifestyle, your family, etc. before choosing whether you will breastfeed or bottle feed your infant. This is not always the easiest decision and is also something worth taking the time to investigate before finalizing. See our latest post on The Ins and Outs of Nutrition & Breastfeeding.
  • If you opt for formula feeding, it is recommended to select an iron-fortified formula. Babies’ iron stores can vary based on maternal stores during pregnancy. And either way, after the first 4 months your baby’s iron levels will likely decline as a normal part of the growing process. 
  • Supplementation. Infants in the first year of life may need supplemented vitamins and minerals, depending on their situation and what method they are fed. Speak with your pediatrician about any supplement needs for your baby. It is common for babies to need vitamin D and iron supplementation during this time.
  • Introducing solid food. Anywhere from around 4-6 months your baby will start showing signs of ability to eat solid foods, and by 6 months for sure you will begin introducing complementary foods to your infant as you slowly wean them off breast or bottle feeding. You may try foods such as plain and strained, or pureed, baby food, vegetables like soft carrots or broccoli and cooked sweet potatoes, and over time start adding in fruit such as mashed apple or avocado
  • Foods to avoid. As your infant is still young and developing there are foods that may be difficult for them to eat such as stringy, sticky, or hard foods – including candy, marshmallows, hot dogs, nuts or popcorn. Also avoid slippery foods that are choking hazards such as uncut grapes. And for food safety purposes, it is advised that you not feed your baby honey or raw/partially cooked eggs and meat. Additionally, parents should consider a diet low in sodium, saturated fat, and ultra-processed food for their infant.
  • On a separate note, you may learn at this stage that your child has certain food allergies or intolerances, please speak with your pediatrician about this. And lookout for an upcoming post about managing food allergies in the home!
  • Cow’s milk. Lastly, it’s recommended to avoid serving cow’s milk to your infant in the first year. However, dairy products are OK. Cow’s milk lacks several essential nutrients required for infant growth and can burden the baby’s digestive system. Additionally, cow’s milk is a poor source of iron and can lead to anemia.

And that’s just the summary!

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or worry about whether your baby is eating enough. You can assess your baby’s nutritional status by monitoring their growth and development, by keeping up with their scheduled pediatrician appointments as well as working with a Dietitian during this time.  To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers – take a look at our Services page.



The Ins and Outs of Nutrition & Breastfeeding

May 25, 2023

Every stage of reproduction from prenatal to postpartum comes with nutrition implications for Moms, and when breastfeeding there’s more!

If you choose to breastfeed your baby there are other nutrition and health implications to be aware of. The decision to breastfeed is not an easy choice to make, but there are numerous health benefits to you and your baby that you can expect if you do. Babies will have reduced risk of infectious disease, reduced risk of asthma, obesity, diabetes, and crohn’s, and will promote mom and baby bonding. Mothers will have a reduced risk of breast and ovary cancer, reduced bleeding after childbirth, aids in weight loss post pregnancy, and reduces risk of diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

And that’s just to name a few! 

So with that being said, for the Moms that choose to breastfeed – what else should you keep in mind during your postpartum time?

  • Energy needs. During pregnancy your energy needs increase slightly – and during breastfeeding they also stay slightly elevated. An additional meal or snack per day, is about the amount you need to reach your needs. At the 1 year mark, as you have probably almost completely weaned your baby, is when your energy needs are going to reduce. Seeing a Dietitian during this time is a great resource for managing energy needs, and/or using a tracking app to help keep you balanced – eating what you need, not more or less.
  • Vitamins and Minerals. The important part of every stage of reproduction. After pregnancy, is a time to replenish your stores, whether breastfeeding or not. But in postpartum with breastfeeding, it’s important to think about replenishing your stores as well as the nutrients that will get passed to your baby such as vitamin D, vitamin B12, and iodine. More specifics to come on this in future posts, including food sources!
  • Stay hydrated. You will get thirsty while breastfeeding. And especially during the warmer months of the year, it’s imperative to be aware of your hydration levels both for your ability to breastfeed, as well as for your energy levels. Keep a water bottle handy, try using one that is insulated so the water stays at a temperature you like. Also sugar-free homemade popsicles or a nice fruit salad can be hydrating too! 
  • Physical activity. There is no reason why you should not be able to resume an exercise routine after your baby is born, even if you are breastfeeding. Starting with simple low intensity exercise, like taking walks or a stretch routine. Just as with pregnancy, be sure to choose postpartum safe exercises and speak to your doctor before starting any intense exercise routine.

Bonus: What to know about Nutrition & Milk Production 

Important health factors to keep in mind during the breastfeeding process:

Supply of breast milk is determined by the needs of the baby. The baby’s needs, in turn, are determined by the baby’s age and weight, and their health and nutrition status. Mother’s may experience low milk production from issues such as illness or fatigue. They may see slow milk flow if they are stressed or anxious. Milk may also be affected by the infant. If the baby has increased energy needs, or a low net consumption due to conditions such as malabsorption from allergies or gut issues, or low general consumption from incomplete emptying or being fatigued. 

There is a lot to manage when it comes to breastfeeding, and it’s a good idea to seek support from a Dietitian and a Lactation Consultant to guide you during this time. To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers – take a look at our Services page.



Best Ways to Manage Postpartum Nutrition

May 9, 2023

There are a lot of specifics out there when it comes to nutrition after pregnancy, how many calories to eat, what supplements to take, but how should we manage our health on the whole?

It’s pretty wild how our nutrition needs that were shifting through the trimesters of pregnancy, now shift again postpartum. In just a matter of weeks and days! And not only are we concerned with our own evolving nutrition needs, but also our growing infant. It’s not easy to keep up – and new Moms don’t need the added stress through each transition.

This post is going to focus on general nutrition and health parameters postpartum and we will cover nutrition needs during breastfeeding in another post.

So what are some health goals for new Moms postpartum?

  • Meet your new nutrient needs. During pregnancy you most likely were eating slightly more to account for the fetus, as a Mom postpartum you will need to adjust those needs, either back down, or to meet the needs of breastfeeding. No one expects you to do this alone, in fact, many health apps with calorie and nutrient trackers make this very easy to do on your own with support of the app. It’s highly recommended to invest in an app like that and/or seek out the support of a Dietitian – it’s not easy to make these adjustments and so suddenly. It doesn’t always happen organically
  • Weight management. That leads us right into managing weight postpartum. Some women are going to return to their pre-pregnancy weight and some may not, or some may just take a while. Every body is different. Learning what your healthy body weight is, is the first step. What’s important is managing a healthy lifestyle including meeting your nutrient needs for this new phase of your life.
  • Lifestyle & routine. You are building a new lifestyle. Many things are going to change. And especially postpartum you are going to experience low energy and lots of stress – making it difficult to concentrate on the big picture. Utilize a family and friend support system, sleep when your baby sleeps (that’s a classic), stay hydrated, and learn to utilize your energy efficiently because it will be spare. Create a checklist, or schedule, that has room for flexibility but helps you focus on what needs to be done.
  • Physical Activity. Make room in your life for movement. As soon as you get into a routine with no movement, then it’s harder to pick it back up. Carve out time in your day to walk or just stretch. If you’re lucky enough to  find more time and energy, build in a structured workout routine at the gym or even at home. Be sure you are finding postpartum safe exercises and that you are thinking about physical therapy needs, such as pelvic floor exercises.

It’s easy to give everything to your baby when they are first born. To the point where the idea of self care seems almost like a foreign concept. Creating a support system that allows you to find pockets of time for yourself is going to serve you and your baby the most, for years to come.

To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers – take a look at our Services page.



Getting Started with Nutrition during Pregnancy

February 2, 2023

Optimal nutrition is crucial during pregnancy, but it’s not easy to know where to even get started. Let’s review the basics!

When we talk about optimal nutrition during pregnancy, we are really referring to the health outcomes we are aiming to achieve. Maintaining peak nutrition status during pregnancy is associated with lower incidence of infant death and preterm birth, healthy infant birth weight, fewer cases of neural tube defects and fetal alcohol syndrome, and improved maternal health. What it comes down to is – in the womb and out of the womb, we are most concerned with growth and development of the fetus and baby.

With that being said, we measure optimal nutrition during pregnancy mostly through the amount, and pace, of weight gain during pregnancy. But weight gain is not accomplished with a snap of the fingers, it is meant to happen over a course of time, at a certain rate, and in the correct proportion. This is a tricky balance and requires careful choices and considerations when it comes to diet and exercise.

So what nutrition considerations should we focus on during pregnancy?

  • Macronutrient intake. Not much is different during pregnancy, other than a need to be absolutely sure you are meeting your needs. Carbohydrate intake should be 50-65% of daily calorie needs, with an emphasis on high fiber foods. Protein needs increase to an additional 25 grams per day. And fat intake shifts focus on Omega-3s, DHA and EPA, fat sources such as oily fish, eggs, nuts and seeds like flax, and plant oils like olive.
  • Water intake. Water needs increase during pregnancy. It is recommended to drink somewhere between 9 and 12 cups (8 fl-oz) of water per day. Try carrying a water bottle with you, or putting reminders in your phone. Another helpful way to remember to drink water is by having 1-2 glasses after your meals and snacks.
  • Micronutrient intake. Won’t go too deep into this right now (more posts on this to come!) but micronutrients support the most important processes in the body and when we aren’t getting enough of one, it can do some damage. When pregnant this is double, for mom and baby. Concentrate on sources of folate, iron, vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, iodine, sodium, and all the antioxidants.  
  • Food safety. The dos and don’ts of pregnancy are stressful. How often are you asking yourself – is it ok to have this? Some of the noteworthy food safety rules include eliminating raw fish and meat, eliminating unpasteurized cheese and milk, washing fruits and vegetables well before eating, and avoiding fish high in mercury like shark, swordfish, and tilefish. These are only just some of the rules to avoid foodborne illness or passing toxins to the fetus.
  • Alcohol. It’s important to quickly emphasize that alcohol is known to pass from mother to fetus through the placenta, and have a serious impact on growth and mental development of the child. Fetal alcohol syndrome is a result of frequent consumption of alcohol throughout pregnancy. There is no defined safe level for intake, and therefore it is highly recommended that during pregnancy women abstain from drinking alcohol.

Phew! That was a long list. And it’s only the summaries! Expect in-depth posts to come 🙂 

With all this to manage just in terms of nutrition, it’s a lot for someone during pregnancy and there is no need to have to navigate this alone. Dietitians are trained professionals who can act as a support for moms-to-be during this time and beyond. 

To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers – take a look at our Services page.



What To Know About Nutrition & Preconception

December 30, 2022

Let’s take a look at the role of nutrition in the preconception phase and what women can be doing to optimize their health!

Women who are beginning a fertility journey are put in a position of having to be very delicate and careful with their physical health. Doctors will run many tests to learn about their current health status, will prescribe supplements, and encourage women to stay in “tip top shape” to maximize potential for conception.

I will take a minute here to emphasize that when it comes to fertility, it takes two to tango. And although the woman will be the one to carry the child – the father’s health is just as important in this journey and should be addressed along with the mother’s.

With that being said, there is no one prescribed nutrition path of care for women wishing to get pregnant. The advice is usually to maintain a healthy body weight, take a prenatal vitamin, eat a well-rounded and balanced diet, and stay active. Nothing drastically different from the general nutrition advice you may receive at any point in adulthood. But that does not mean that optimal nutrition does not play a big role at this time.

So what can women concentrate on, nutritionally, during preconception to optimize their health and chances for pregnancy?

  • Healthy lifestyle & diverse diet. The aim is to avoid being undernourished or overnourished. Establishing a healthy lifestyle and routine is going to benefit you from day 1 of this journey. This is easier said than done and requires motivation and effort. Start by focusing on food choices. It’s easy to get into a food intake pattern where we are eating the same things every day, with little change. But we benefit more from eating a wide range of foods. The diversity in our diets gives our body the chance to be exposed to many nutrients we need. So take the time to shake it up, and create an eclectic menu with all your favorites.
  • Prenatal supplement. The reason it is recommended to take prenatals is to ensure that we are giving our body what it needs to function at its best and so our bodies are ready for pregnancy. Since pregnancy can start unexpectedly we want our bodies to be ready and part of being ready means giving the mom and fetus what it needs from the jump. The big micronutrient focus is on folic acid and vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and vitamin B6. More to come on each of these!
  • Be prepared. There are many food and drink rules that are highly suggested to be followed when pregnant, for the safety of mom and baby during that time. Before pregnancy it’s recommended to start preparing for these practices or even begin them. Such as limiting caffeine and herbal tea intake, avoiding alcohol, watching out for undercooked animal products and unpasteurized foods, and eliminating high mercury seafood. To name a few! 
  • Physical activity. Need for movement is important at any stage of life. It cannot be stressed enough how impactful an active lifestyle is on the health of any individual. At a time when peak health status is needed, consistent physical activity becomes a priority ingredient. Often people will get into a routine and then lose momentum when it comes to fitness. I always say, find the activity you like – because that’s the one you are least likely to lose interest with. Make movement a priority.
  • See a professional. No one expects healthcare to be navigated alone. And although at times it can feel like healthcare is inaccessible – there are more and more systems being put into place to change this. New and expecting Moms especially should feel they can rely on the healthcare system to help them during this time. Dietitians are an excellent resource to work with and support you through this journey. To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers – take a look at our Services page.

Preconception is an emotional and delicate time for any woman on a pregnancy journey. Worrying about your health at this time is completely understandable but it should not have to feel like a burden. Concentrate on building a healthy lifestyle that works for you and your family. Explore all your favorite foods, mix it up! Be prepared for pregnancy by taking the right prenatal vitamins and focusing on food safety measures. Experiment with different forms of fitness that you enjoy. And don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional for help and support!



The Latest from Dining With Nature

December 13, 2022

Check out the latest updates from Dining with Nature and what to look forward to in the months ahead!

Women going through a fertility and conception journey are often bombarded with a lot of nutrition information, left wondering what they should be doing for their own health and their baby’s. Rightfully so! I often get asked “I read this but what am I supposed to do?” or “But is this supplement ok?” – the confusion and concern are not surprising.

Women should have access to accurate and quality nutrition care so they can optimize their health, improve outcomes, and not feel overwhelmed by all the dos and don’ts that come along with a fertility and parenthood journey. That’s what working with a Dietitian during this stage of life can offer.

Dining with Nature takes a natural approach to nutrition for Moms and Babies. Focusing on preconception, pregnancy, postpartum, and infancy – aiming to work with women throughout their journey from before parenthood through navigating the first few years. Counseling for a wide range of health conditions, including weight management, diabetes, high blood pressure, and GI issues. Working to improve health by setting realistic goals that connect people to food and body for a more earth-friendly, and sustainable lifestyle.

Dining with Nature offers one-on-one virtual counseling to women at all stages of conception, pre to post, and for new Moms with their infants ages 0 to 5. In addition we now also offer meal plans through EatLove to support women during their health journey at this time and give them the food options that will best serve them. Meal plans are customized and curated by me, for you, and are adjustable to your preferences and needs. 

Head to the Services page to book your complimentary consultation and learn more about these great opportunities!



Understanding Nutrition & Immune Health

January 30, 2022

There’s a lot of buzz around natural immune boosters and how to optimize diet to prevent illness. Let’s explore the connection between proper nutrition and strong immune health.

It’s the cold and flu season. It’s also the season for people to ask me about the latest cold-prevention strategy like 5-hour energy or vitamin C shots. And I always respond, “why not just eat an orange?” ….

Why should we eat immune-boosting foods and how can our diet support immune health?

There is no one food or nutrient that is going to be the magic aid to our immune system. On the contrary, it’s a wide range of nutrients that we need to support our immune health. Diets that include a variety of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are going to be the most protective to our health, by providing a wide range of micro- and macronutrients that serve various roles in our bodies. Nutrients from food play important roles in all systems of our body, and the immune system is no different.

So what nutrients and their foods can we be including in our diet that will support our immune health?

  • Vitamin C is the most well-known immune system aid, as it plays a key role in the function of our innate and adaptive immune systems. Foods such as citrus fruits, red and green peppers, broccoli, potatoes, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and strawberries are just some of the great sources of vitamin C.
  • Protein is another famous immune system aid, as it promotes healing and recovery, to build up strength. Protein-rich foods include eggs, meat, poultry, cheese, and soy.
  • Vitamin E is a lesser known nutrient to look out for when it comes to immune health. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, fighting free radicals in the body, and studies have shown its ability to support other immune function as well. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, therefore unlike vitamin C, it is well absorbed. Foods full of vitamin E include wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, peanut butter, collard greens, and red pepper.
  • Zinc’s role in immune function has been well established and like protein is important in wound healing. Foods high in zinc include meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grain, dairy, and other fortified products.
  • Probiotics is one of those nutrition terms that gets thrown around a lot. Probiotic foods are fermented foods that complement prebiotic foods, or high fiber (fruits, veggies, whole grain) foods, to colonize the gut with healthy bacteria and protect it. Probiotic foods such as tempeh, kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, and miso, also support our immune health through our gut microbiota (our gut bacteria).

Remember that although we can choose a healthy lifestyle, with food, exercise, sleep, and water, to support our immune system – we should also protect ourselves, medically. This can be through vaccines or other medical attention. Speak to your doctor.