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Serving up power nutrition to combat flu season and COVID-19

With flu season upon us and COVID-19 on every operators’ mind, it would serve you well to follow immune-supporting nutrition strategies to reduce your residents’ risk and help speed up recovery.

Since seniors are at a higher risk for the flu and COVID19, providers need to keep ahead of this to avoid hospitalizations or re-admissions. Residents in post-acute care require nutrient-dense meals that can fight back against infection and strengthen immunity. A menu with a variety of foods should be part of every operator’s dining plan. Adjusting dietary plans to include these power nutrients could help protect your residents against the flu and other viruses. Which nutrients should you be mindful of? Read below to find out the top 6 nutrients to include in your resident dining plan.

Top 6 nutrients to include:

  1. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is found in citrus food and is well known to fight many pathogens. The antioxidant effects of citrus food help limit damage from free radicals as well. Because the body does not make or store vitamin C, adding foods rich in vitamin C DAILY is critical to health. Two servings of fruit per day, such as strawberries, pineapple, oranges, mango, and kiwi can do the trick.


  1. Zinc helps boost the production of white blood cells. Chicken contains significant amounts of zinc and is one of the easiest center-of-the-plate food items for adding variety to your menu. Chicken broth also has collagen, which can strengthen the immune system. Chicken soup can be a power food staple during flu season. Additional foods high in zinc include meat, tofu, lentils, and oatmeal.


  1. Vitamin D increases calcium absorption and reduces the inflammatory process which can reduce the risk for infections. Some great sources include fatty fish and eggs. Milk and 100% fortified juices are also great sources. Due to the pandemic, many seniors certainly had less sun exposure which will continue into the cooler winter months. Therefore food sources should be adapted adequately. Salmon and other fatty fish such as trout, sardines, and herring are also a good source of Vitamin D. Snacks with the addition of flax or chia seeds can benefit the inflammatory response with high levels of Omega-3’s.


  1. Beta carotene is found in foods including carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, spinach, cantaloupe, and apricots. It is an antioxidant that supports immune health, similar to vitamin C.


  1. Probiotics such as those found in yogurts are the “good”, healthy bacteria developed in the gut which help your immune system fight off germs. Increasing the amounts of yogurt, kefir, or sauerkraut on your menu during flu season can help seniors maintain healthy digestion.


  1. Protein intake is a common challenge for operators to encourage. Getting adequate protein is even more beneficial for immune healing and recovery. A variety of seafood, lean meats, eggs, beans, peas, nuts and seeds should encompass your meal service.

To conclude

Better nutrition management leads to better outcomes. MealTracker can make your immune-boosting nutrition strategies simpler to handle. With our Change Menu feature, you can enjoy nutrient analysis reporting, a complete food item data file, individualized profile details and more. Now more than ever before, operators need to be proactive against COVID19 by following good nutrition strategies. Having an elite dining software solution can help you better combat flu season.

Want to learn more? Let’s connect!

The content in this presentation or materials is for informational purposes only and is provided “as-is.” Information and views expressed herein may change without notice. We encourage you to seek as appropriate, regulatory, and legal advice on any of the matters covered in this presentation or materials.

Amy Wootton
Amy Wootton

Amy Wootton, RDN, is a registered dietitian licensed in the state of Florida with over 18 years of experience in clinical nutrition leadership for senior communities as well as acute care, food service management, nutrition informatics, and wellness education. Amy is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, was appointed Vice Chair on the Interoperability and Standards Committee, and is the leader of the Academy’s Nutition Care Process Workgroup. Amy most recently accepted a Leadership Award from the Florida Academy of Dietetics. She has achieved years of diversified experience in all spectrums and disease improvement and prevention throughout each lifespan. Amy is a dedicated leader and is passionate about the success of nutrition interventions as an electronic solution to healthcare crises’.

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