December 2, 2022

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The Link Between Dairy’s Nutrients and Immunity

The Link Between Dairy’s Nutrients and Immunity

This post is in collaboration with National Dairy Council. All opinions are my own.

Due to the pandemic, there has been increased concern on keeping your immune system healthy. Many folks have turned to supplements or other methods to try to boost their immune system, but many often forget that your first line of defense is a healthy diet. In my book The Family Immunity Cookbook: 101 Easy Recipes to Boost Health, I discuss the importance of eating a well-balanced meal and the role that milk and dairy foods play in keeping your immune system healthy.

About Your Immune System

A healthy immune system is vital to good health. The immune system helps fight off any foreign invaders to the body. If your immune system is healthy, it’s easier to fight bacteria, viruses, or anything else trying to make you sick. When you say you want to increase or boost immunity, what you likely mean is how can I keep my immune system as healthy as possible to lower my risk of getting a cold, the flu, or even COVID-19?

The immune system is rather complex. Your body has a network of tissues, cells, and organs that try to keep out foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. This is your immune system. Some of the main players include white blood cells, antibodies, and the lymphatic system. All of these parts, and others, actively fight foreign bodies that enter your body.

What Can You Do to Help Your Immune System?

In my cookbook, I list six habits to help your immune system be the best it can be. These six habits include staying hydrated, getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly, consuming alcohol in moderation, reducing stress, and lastly, eating a healthy well-balanced diet. Part of having a well-balanced diet is getting your daily recommended servings of all your food groups, including milk and dairy foods, and fruits and vegetables.

Nutrients That Support Immunity

Vitamins A, D, B6 and B12, protein, selenium, zinc, and antioxidants like vitamins C and E are all important to keep your immune system healthy. You can get these nutrients from consuming milk and dairy foods, and by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. However, only 2 in 10 Americans take in the recommended amounts of these.

Here are specific nutrients you get from foods that can help keep your immune system healthy:

  • Milk: Vitamins A, B12 and D, protein, zinc and selenium
  • Fruits and vegetables: Vitamins C, A and B6
  • Nuts and seeds: Vitamin E
  • Cheese: Protein, selenium and vitamin B12
  • Yogurt: Protein, selenium, zinc and vitamin B12

 

Enjoying Nutrients Together

Nutrition is not just about eating single nutrients or single foods. It’s about how the variety of nutrients in the various foods you eat work together to keep your body healthy. A favorite snack recipe that I share below is my Strawberry Kiwi Almond Yogurt Bark made with Greek yogurt, strawberries, kiwi, and almonds – where you’ll get vitamins A, C, and E, protein, selenium, and zinc to help keep your immune system healthy.

Photo courtesy of Ashley Lima

Strawberry Kiwi Almond Yogurt Bark
Serves: 6
Serving size: 4 pieces

Rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper
2 cups (500 g) nonfat vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt
Zest of 1 orange
8 strawberries, stems removed and diced
2 kiwifruit, peeled and diced
1⁄2 cup (125 g) unsalted dry roasted almonds, coarsely chopped

  1. In a medium bowl, add the yogurt and stir in half of the zest. Spoon the yogurt mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and use a spatula to spread it evenly to the edges. It should be about 1⁄2 inch (1 cm) thick.
  2. Evenly sprinkle the yogurt with the strawberries, kiwis and almonds, and then dust the remaining zest over the yogurt.
  3. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for at least 4 hours or until the yogurt sets. Gently break the yogurt bark into twenty-four pieces. Store in a sealable container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe from The Family Immunity Cookbook by Toby Amidor. Published by Robert Rose Books. Photo courtesy of Ashley Lima. All Rights Reserved.

See You at Today’s Dietitian Symposium!

I will be attending the Today’s Dietitian Symposium in Bonito Springs, Florida where I will be at National Dairy Council’s booth (#46) with some surprises waiting for you on Monday May 23 between 3:00 and 3:45 pm and on Tuesday May 24 between 11 and 11:45 at booth 46. I hope to see you there!