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  • Julie C.H. Brake, MS, RDN, LD

Can Nutrition Protect Me?

Updated: Apr 9, 2020

Can "good" nutrition protect us? What foods are "immune boosting" foods? What can I eat that will keep me from getting sick? These questions come up often in nutrition counseling, but now more than ever. As I write this blog entry, we have really just begun the Coronavirus Quarantine. The novel coronavirus or COVID-19 has become more widespread in the United States. There are those who use an emergency situation like this to take advantage of a vulnerable population and sell miracle cures. Let's sift through what's true and what's not. Before I begin to state some facts that apply generally about nutrition and health, the first rule to use is: If a product seems too good to be true, it probably is. There is no one product, food, drink, medicine, or method that will keep anyone from aging, getting sick, or dying. My number one tip to people looking for a solution is: Don't buy what anyone is trying to sell. Truth prevails and doesn't require flashy slogans, big expenses, and famous endorsers.

Now, here are some questions and answers that might help as we sort through the headlines.

>Is it true that some foods boost the immune system? No, not really. And a boosted immune system is not really what we want anyway. An overactive immune system leads to anaphylactic reactions! What we want is a healthy immune system. The best way to get that is balanced nutrition overall. This means adequate intake, a variety of foods, and not singling in or out any one food group.

>Aren't some foods better for you? Don't antioxidants help fight disease? Antioxidants are certainly important, and certain fruits and vegetables have more than others. If we include a variety of foods, we usually get just what the body needs. If some foods are seen as better than others, there may be some things that the body lacks. For instance, if fruits are viewed as more important than grain foods, the body might not have enough energy to build up the immune system even though it has the compounds it needs.

>Do some supplements help fight disease? Should I take vitamin C? The best source of nutrients is food or drinks. We tend to get what we need from eating and drinking. Taking a supplement can help you feel better, although it may just be the act of taking it and not the actual supplement. It's important to inform your doctor if you are taking a supplement because sometimes your doctor may advise against certain supplements for you. Vitamin C is seen as generally harmless but taking too much can cause negative effects. To get enough vitamin C, include citrus fruits a few times a week or drink 100% fruit juice.

>If I eat well and exercise, will I be less likely to get sick? Not necessarily. Germs are passed from person to person directly or from surfaces. Eating well and doing the right amount of physical activity for you will help you to be the healthiest you, which can make you stronger to fight illnesses better. It doesn't mean that you can't get sick, though.

So - what should we do? Eat regular meals and snacks. Include a variety of different types of foods and drinks. Pay attention to your body's cues for hunger, fullness, thirst, rest, and activity. Take care of spiritual growth. Check on your neighbors and be sure they have enough food in the pantry. Donate funds or supplies to community organizations that provide assistance to those in need. Feel free to contact us at Positive Nutrition any time you need support. If we can't provide what you need, we will do our best to connect you with someone who can.

Eat well, stay well, and prosper!

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." ~ Romans 15:13

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