Dietician offers natural ways to boost immunity

Contact: Erin Flynn

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Right now the world is in the middle of a health crisis. A novel virus—one that has not been identified in humans before—has swept the globe. While that means our bodies don’t have preexisting defenses to COVID-19, there are natural ways to boost your immunity in general.

“It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to prevent all types of illness,” says Trina Weber, registered dietitian at Western Michigan University’s Sindecuse Health Center who also has a private practice in Kalamazoo. Things like eating well, drinking water, getting adequate sleep and being active are simple ways to keep your body running in top shape.

Trina Weber holds a bowl of oatmeal and fruit.

Trina Weber, RD

During the pandemic, several companies have popped up, selling supplements promising extra protection. There’s reason to question such silver bullet claims.

“Be wary of nutrition sold in pill form,” Weber says. “Our bodies are designed to absorb, digest and utilize real food in its original form. Pill nutrition may not work because the ingredient needs to work in concert with other ingredients/nutrients found in the original food form, such as lycopene in tomatoes.”

Many supplements are also not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, which means there’s no guarantee what’s listed on the bottle is actually included in its contents.

“Beware of products that claim to be a panacea, or cure-all, for all diseases and conditions. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” says Weber.

When it comes to improving your body’s natural defenses, it’s always a good idea to trust your gut—literally.

“A large part of the immune system is in the gut. Eating whole foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, can boost health. Specifically, eat bananas, onions, garlic, oats, omega-3's (found in fatty fish), artichokes, leeks and asparagus. These foods are natural prebiotic sources for the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut,” she says, adding that fermented foods are also helpful.

When all else fails, trust the experts. Credible sources, like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, provide helpful information.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.