With fall around the corner, there’s no better time to talk about immune support and how you can give your body the help it needs to help itself.
We’re breaking down the vitamins and minerals essential to support the body’s normal immune responses and maintain overall health this fall and beyond.
But first, three (3) caveats:
- Everyone's body is different.
- This discussion excludes pre-existing conditions (I am a Nutritionist, not an MD, so this is not medical advice).
- Body needs and abilities will change depending on what season you're in.
As Dr. Zach Bush said recently on the Expanded Podcast, first, we need to shake off narratives about food and diet and realize we're only as healthy as our connection to nature and our connection to food. Freshwater, various foods, energized movement, and time nature is crucial to our health and well-being.
So the cleaner your water and the closer your food is to the soil (i.e., eating plant-based foods), and the more you can eat with a clear mind, space, and air to breathe, the closer your connection.
This is not available to many people. Food deserts are real, people not having access to clean water is real, and food insecurity is something many people face. But I am not an expert on this. I recommend reading Hood Feminist My Mikki Kendall or the Anti-Racism Daily newsletter, Podia, and resources if you want to learn more.
I’m coming from a very privileged place to be discussing nutrient availability and absorption while having access to clean water, food, and supplements if needed.
Nutrient Watch List
When we look at specific nutrients, we're missing the bigger picture of an overall balanced diet. My general rule is to eat foods that make you feel good, skip the ones that don’t, get some variety in your diet, and drink yourself some water. However, some nutrients are more important to take note of on a plant-based diet, simply for the fact that it may require more planning and thought to ensure you’re meeting your needs. If it’s available to you, I recommend getting your nutrient levels tested (and re-test every 3, 6, 9, or 12 months, as recommended by your doc) so you have a baseline of where you’re at and don’t have to guess or take supplements you don’t need.
Vitamin D is a factor in the formation and maintenance of bones and teeth and can be found in some mushrooms.
Vitamin C helps support the body’s normal immune responses to maintain health and wellness. We love a good orange moment, but don’t let that be your only vitamin C source. Broccoli, green beans, carrots, and all berries are also sources of this water-soluble vitamin. Note: water-soluble means that you may lose some as foods like broccoli are cooked, so aim for raw or lightly steamed.
Iron forms your red blood cells. These cells deliver oxygen throughout your body, making them vital for overall health and wellbeing. Many plant-based foods like spinach are a source of iron. However, this iron is non-heme, which takes more effort for the body to utilize the nutrient than heme iron, which you find in an animal-based food, like red meat. You can support non-heme iron absorption by combining it with foods rich in Vitamin C, like citrus fruits. This is an example of why looking at a single nutrient in isolation doesn’t show you the complete picture and why it’s important to enjoy a varied diet instead of getting too caught up in focusing on specifics.
Your immune support BFF. Zinc plays a role in immune system function and wound healing. Your body doesn’t have an effective storage ability for zinc, so aim to get this nutrient in your diet regularly. Find zinc in red meat, beans, nuts, and some fortified foods.
If you’re looking for a convenient way to support immune system function, try Natreve Immune Strength. 1 serving of Natreve Immune Strength contains:
✅ Vitamin C (as Ascorbic Acid) 1000 mg
✅ Vitamin D 25 mcg
✅ Zinc 25 mg
✅ Wellmune® 250 mg
More on the benefits of Wellmune can be found here if you’re curious!
Absorption and Utilization
So you’re eating all the things, but are you absorbing and utilizing those nutrients?
While absorption and utilization vary from person to person, there are some universal truths.
Just Say No
To extreme dieting. Anything drastic may prevent you from getting all of the nutrients you need and set you up for yo-yo dieting mode. This is a no-go mode as far as I’m concerned.
If you’re feeling stressed, especially while you eat, your body will be putting energy toward that and not digestion. For simple tips on how to eat more mindfully, follow these guidelines:
✅ Listen to your body.
✅ Pay attention while you eat. Try to limit eating while ____ (fill in the black - driving, watching TV, etc.).
✅ Live your life and let food fuel you (aka ditch the worry about what you’re eating).
When In Doubt, Find Out
Here’s where a blood test could give you more clues, but as you are reading this, you may have had a feeling or two of “ohhh yes, that sounds like me” or “I’m going to skim this part, doesn’t seem to be for me.” Trust that. That, my friends, is your intuition. That is your body talking - what is it telling you? Maybe you heard Vitamin C and now want to eat more citrus fruits or feel called to check your nutrient levels. Whatever that feeling is, follow it.
Take to what is important to you here, and leave the rest. It will be here for someone else, for another time if you need it.
And when you’re ready to add more immune support to your day, try Natreve Immune Strength.