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Using nutrition to combat illness

Sarah Van Eerden from The McCahill Group breaks down how different nutrients can help prevent illness.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — With the cold and flu virus circulating around, it can be hard to keep yourself from getting sick. But one of the best ways to keep yourself healthy is to provide your body with the fuel it needs to fight off infections. Dietitian Sarah Van Eerden from The McCahill Group explains how nutrition can play an important role in immunity.

Proteins: Immune fighting antibodies are made of proteins. Things like fish, chicken, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains.

Zinc: Research shows that people who are deficient in zinc are more susceptible to getting sick. Things like fresh meat, eggs, whole grains, vegetables and soybeans all have zinc.

Folate: Folate helps support white blood cell production and function. Things like leafy green veggies, fruit, beans and lentils all have folate.

Vitamin A: Vitamin A also helps support white blood cell production and function. Vitamin A can be found in carrots, sweet potato, spinach, mango and broccoli.

Other key things that can help keep you from getting sick include staying hydrated and getting enough sleep!

Farro Salad


  • 2 c cooked farro (or brown rice)
  • 1 15-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c carrots, chopped
  • 1 c broccoli, chopped
  • 2 c kale, destemmed and chopped
  • 4-5 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 olive oil (reserve 1 T for roasting)
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • 1 T herbs de pravence (or Italian herb blend)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

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