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Eating for Immunity
Wed 13 May 20 - Joelle Jean
During this time of uncertainty with the COVID-19 pandemic, many people want to know if they should be eating certain foods, or taking vitamin supplements to help support their immune system. If that’s you, you’re not alone.
Although there is no evidence that any single food, nutrient, or supplement is capable of giving you extra protection from infection, what you eat does matter. Adequate intakes of micronutrients are required for a well-functioning immune system. 

Eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods daily is the key to ensuring you are getting enough micronutrients. A nutrient-dense diet should consist of colorful vegetables and fruit, along with whole grains, and a variety of protein-rich foods. The more colorful, the better. 

You can help support your immune system by making sure to include plenty of foods that offer the following key nutrients as part of your overall healthy eating plan: 

Vitamin A plays a role in maintaining your body’s natural defenses. Get this vitamin from foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, red bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, cantaloupe, apricots, or foods labeled "vitamin A fortified," such as milk.

Vitamin D supports immune response by enhancing the function of immune cells, including macrophages and T-cells, which protect your body against pathogens. Few foods have vitamin D but some of the best sources include tuna and salmon, egg yolks, and fortified foods like dairy products and orange juice.  

Vitamin C supports the immune system by stimulating the formation of antibodies. Include more sources of this vitamin by choosing citrus fruit, strawberries, cantaloupe, kiwi, red pepper, papaya, and tomato juice.

Vitamin E works as an antioxidant and helps support immune function. You’ll find vitamin E in sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanut butter, and vegetable oils (such as sunflower or safflower oil).

Zinc helps the immune system work properly. Zinc can be found in fish, oysters, lean meat, poultry, eggs, milk, unprocessed grains, beans, nuts, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds.
Protein helps build antibodies, healing and recovery. Protein-rich foods include lean meats, poultry, eggs, seafood, beans and peas, soy products, and nuts and seeds.

What’s the bottom line?

While there is no magic bullet that can ‘boost’ immunity, eating a well-balanced diet, with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant and animal proteins is the best way to get all the nutrients your body needs for proper immune function. Staying hydrated also helps regulate fluid and electrolyte balance which can help recovery from virus-related symptoms (fever, vomiting, diarrhea). Lifestyle factors such as exercise, sleep, and stress management are important as well.

Getting nutrients from foods is preferred, but in cases where caloric needs or essential vitamin and mineral requirements cannot be met, a supplement might be advised. If you want to give supplements a try, be sure to speak with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian before taking any supplements.
Safe food handling at home during COVID-19 pandemic
Tue 12 May 20 - Joelle Jean

We all need to stay safe. We also all need to eat.

Many of us are concerned about food and food packaging harboring the coronavirus, and naturally
some have turned to the internet for advice on how to protect themselves.

The internet is rampant with misinformation on how to keep food safe from the coronavirus. Is it
safe to order takeout? Should we wipe down each package before putting it away? Should we wash
our produce with soap and water? Or is dilute bleach a better solution?

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency reports that “there is currently no evidence that food is a
likely source or route of transmission of COVID-19”. While food hasn't been shown to be a source
of transmission for the coronavirus, surfaces can be. A recent study published in The New England
Journal of Medicine
revealed that the coronavirus was detectable for up to four hours on copper, up
to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic and metal. So rather than worry about food
itself, focus on following good food hygiene practices and keep social distancing when you bring
groceries home or order takeout.

You can take the following steps to ensure safe food handling during covid-19:

  • Pay in advance to minimize person-to-person interaction
  • Let the driver leave the food at the doorstep. Wait until the driver is at least 2 metres away before
    picking up the food
  • Remove the food from the containers or packages and discard. For those who want to take extra
    precautions or keep their packages, there is no harm in wiping down each container or package with
    a disinfectant wipe
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water
  • Wipe counters where you unpacked the food
  • Clean produce by scrubbing them with clean hands and cold, running water only. You should not wash
    fruits and vegetables with soap or any other solution. That’s because produce is porous, so it can absorb
    soap. Ingesting soap could cause digestive issues such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
    Food safety guidelines advise against using bleach on anything you're going to eat as ingestion of any
    amount of can be a major health hazard.

As with many other strategies around COVID-19, decisions about protection come down to a personal level but it
is important to make informed decisions. As simple as some of these steps may be, you or your loved ones health
could depend on it.

For more information:

COVID-19 Q&A from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency:


Food Safety tips from the Government of Canada:


How and when to wash your hands from the CDC:


Food Safety tips at Home from the US Department of Agriculture:


Keep your Family Healthy by Washing Fresh Produce