Start with a Healthy Eating Pattern

Our immune system includes the body’s organs, tissues, and cells that function together to fight infection, caused by harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. A strong immune system optimizes a consistent supply of supporting nutrients from the foods we eat.

We get a consistent supply of health supporting nutrients by following a balanced nutrient dense eating pattern as shown in Canada’s Food Guide. Eat and enjoy a variety of delicious foods each day. https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/

Include foods that support immune system functioning. These are foods containing vitamins A, C, D & E as well as folate, selenium, zinc and Omega 3.

Some Great Food Sources of Supporting Nutrients include:

Vitamin A. Include: milk, yogurt, cheese, salmon, tuna or fortified foods.

Beta – carotene (provitamin A). Include: orange vegetables and fruit (such as sweet potato, carrot, squash, red & yellow peppers, tomato, mango, cantaloupe) dark leafy greens (such as spinach, kale, watercress, swiss chard), broccoli. https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Vitamins-and-Minerals/What-You-Need-to-Know-About-Vitamin-A.aspx

Food Ideas for home:

  • Hummus with carrots sticks, bell peppers and/or broccoli
  • Roasted vegetable tray bake. Roast variety of vegetables and serve on a dark green leafy salad and/or with a drizzle of kale & herb pesto sauce. Leftovers can be transformed into a comforting winter soup, chili or casserole. Add milk or cheese for added vitamin A.
  • Tomato sauce on spaghetti squash sprinkled with cheese
  • Cantaloupe or mango drizzled with yogurt dressing

Kitchen Tips: Canned fish, sweet potatoes and winter squash can be stored for longer periods of time. Frozen kale, spinach, squash, broccoli and mango are great convenient frozen options in the winter season to reduce food waste and cost.

Vitamin D. Include: fortified foods (such as milks, orange juice), salmon, tuna and mushrooms. https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Vitamins-and-Minerals/What-you-need-to-know-about-Vitamin-D.aspx

Food Ideas for home:

  • Salmon or tuna salad on bread, Crackers or dark Leafy greens. Add thinly sliced bell peppers and cucumbers and serve with a glass of milk.
  • Add finely chopped local mushrooms to your favourite ground meat recipes. Need inspiration? See recipe ideas here: http://blenditarian.com/resources/recipes/
  • Make milk based mushroom soup. Add mushrooms to one pot meals.
  • Make smoothies with any of the ingredients you have on hand.

Vitamin C. Include: cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts), bell peppers, tomatoes, citrus fruit, kiwifruit, strawberries, mango, melon, pineapple. https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Vitamins-and-Minerals/What-you-need-to-know-about-vitamin-C.aspx

Food Ideas for home:

  • Winter slaw with vinaigrette dressing. Include kale, cabbage, broccoli, shaved Brussels sprouts, carrot, bell pepper, onion and/or jicama. Add mango and citrus to it.

Kitchen Tip: To save time, start with favourite bagged coleslaw blend and add to it. Can also sauté coleslaw mix for a quick hot side vegetable or base for a stir fry.

Vitamin E. Include: sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, peanut butter. https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Vitamins-and-Minerals/What-You-Need-to-Know-About-Vitamin-E.aspx

Food Ideas for home:

  • Add nuts/seeds to hot or cold cereal, smoothies, yogurt, dark chocolate.
  • Have nut or seed butter on whole grain sandwich, toast, crackers with favourite fruit.

Folate. Include: lentils, beans, asparagus, dark leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, green peas, tomato juice, avocado, enriched pasta or flour, fortified breakfast cereals, peanut butter, sunflower seeds. https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Vitamins-and-Minerals/Facts-about-Folate.aspx

Selenium. Include: beef, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, cottage cheese, beans, lentils, Brazil nuts, brown rice, mushrooms. https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Vitamins-and-Minerals/The-Scoop-on-Selenium.aspx

Food Ideas for home:

  • Simple brown rice and beans

Zinc.

Includes: oysters, shellfish, beef, chicken, pork, chickpeas, cashews, pumpkin seeds, oatmeal, fortified cereals, yogurt, milk. https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Vitamins-and-Minerals/-What-You-Need-to-Know-about-Zinc.aspx

Food Ideas for home:

  • One pot baked beans
  • Breakfast or snacks that include oats

Also include foods that make your gut microbiome happy! These foods contain fibre, prebiotics and probiotics. https://cdhf.ca/health-lifestyle/the-role-of-nutrition-diet-in-a-healthy-gut-microbiota/


Other websites to visit:

Dietitians of Canada:
https://www.dietitians.ca/News/2020/Advice-for-the-general-public-about-COVID-19?utm_source=UnlockFood%20Website&utm_medium=Homepage&utm_campaign=COVID%20Advice

Nutrition for Non-Nutritionists:
https://nutritionfornonnutritionists.com/2020/04/nutrition-immunity-challenge-covid19/

Leslie Beck RD:

https://lesliebeck.com/articles/2015/04/20/mushrooms-boost-immunity-suggests-research

https://lesliebeck.com/articles/2020/04/30/certain-vitamins-could-help-minimize-effects-of-covid-19-researchers-say

https://lesliebeck.com/articles/2020/10/24/covid-19-lockdown-reduced-mental-health-sleep-exercise

Apps for Families:

www.aim2be.ca – Designed for families, Aim2Be aligns with Canadian health and physical activity recommendations. It integrates living green principles, behaviour change techniques, and more.

Recipes from our Dana Chefs and Dietitians:

www.recipeme.ca/all-recipes/

Compiled by Donna Bottrell RD RSE
Director Culinary Nutrition for Dana Hospitality
Registered Dietitian