Can Dairy Boost the Immune System?
Eating dairy foods as part of an overall healthy diet is one way to get some of the important nutrients you need for normal immune function.
The immune system is like the body’s department of defense – it protects your body from attack. So when you hear people say they want to increase or boost their immunity, what they’re likely saying is how can I help keep my immune system as healthy as possible to lower my risk of getting a cold, the flu or something more severe like COVID-19.
None of us want to get sick. Having a healthy immune system is important to keeping us well.
The immune system is very complex, and it’s fascinating to think about how the body can recognize itself from foreign invaders and attack. Think about something like rheumatoid arthritis or another auto-immune disease where the immune system doesn’t function like it should and instead attacks itself.
What can I do to boost my immunity?
Little things can add up like stress management, regular exercise, getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet to make a big difference in helping to support your immunity.
Immunity and nutrition are interconnected. Nutrition supplies and replenishes our immune cells with essential nutrients that help them do their work. Immune cells use a lot of energy and nutrients as they help defend the body from invading pathogens. They require a constant supply of essential vitamins and minerals because of how active they are when they are defending and protecting the body.
What nutrients support immunity?
Vitamin A, vitamin D, protein, selenium, zinc, B6 (pyridoxine) and antioxidants like vitamins C and E are all important to support immunity. You can get these nutrients from eating dairy foods and fruits and vegetables, yet only 2 in 10 Americans eat the recommended amount of these foods.
The nutrients in dairy foods play an important role in immunity. Milk for example provides vitamins A and D, protein, zinc and selenium. Fruits and vegetables will provide vitamins C, A and B6, while nuts and seeds provide vitamin E. Cheese and yogurt also contain protein, and yogurt is a good source of zinc, too.
So, consider the combination of dairy and plants as a superfood power couple that you need to be inviting to your dinner table. Here are some recipes that do just that: