Third – Eat well, plenty of vegetables at each meal. I include berries as vegetables. (they are little “bombs” of fiber and nutrition). Try spinach in scrambled eggs, berries in yogurt, find more plants in breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you only eat 2 meals a day, that is fine but have a plant based snack in your day as well. Plain Greek yogurt works well as sour cream for veggies and dip. Hummus comes in many flavors, try it with cherry tomatoes, sweet pepper strips, carrots.
The vitamins most effective for strengthening our immune system are Zinc, Vitamins D3 and A.
Zinc helps our immunity better than Vit C (ascorbic acid) by helping us prevent infection, Vit C helps resolve the infection (an anti-oxidant).
Zinc is found in Lentils, animal meat including oysters, as well as in seeds and nuts. Enjoying a cup of lentil soup twice a week is fine. It’s even better with mixed veg and a fried egg on top!
Vitamin D we get from the sun, it needs to make our skin hot or it won’t make vitamin D3 – the effective form. Merely 10-15 minutes of sunshine on our arms daily can be effective. Note that after Spring break (crowded beaches) there were no hot spots in CA or FL. However, in New Orleans LA after Mardi Gras, there was a hot spot (no beach time). Think about it.
Foods include salmon, tuna, egg yolks, liver, mushrooms. I do not recommend juice or cows milk, but if those beverages are part of your diet, look for them as fortified with Vitamin D.
It works even better with Vitamin A. Somehow Vitamin D and A together strengthen our cells’ membranes making them more resistant to viral penetration. Foods that include Vit A are the yellow vegetables – sweet potato, squash, red/yellow peppers, and spinach, dark green veg too!
If you’re interested in supplements – Vitamin D3 2000-3000 IU, Vitamin A 10,000 IU and Zinc only 9 mg for women and 11 mg for men. Any more zinc than that daily, causes GI upset. If you feel a scratchy throat, try a zinc lozenge (like Cold-Eeze) immediately to reduce illness duration.
But studies show food and lifestyle improvements are more effective than supplements.