Eating for Immunity: A Dietitian’s Perspective

By Melissa Rifkin, R.D.

Eating for Immunity: A Dietitian’s Perspective

Melissa Rifkin is a Connecticut-based Registered Dietitian with over 15 years of experience working in the clinical setting and running the popular, nutrition-education Instagram account, @confessionofadietitian. Melissa hopes to show that healthy meals and snacks do not have to be time consuming and can be made to work for the whole family. Melissa is mom to Max, 2, and infant, Leo, and uses her platform to share practical tips for managing motherhood and feeding kiddos. 


We all know kids are notorious for passing around germs🦠 + there is no shortage for viruses that challenge the immune systems of our little ones. Luckily, there are many lifestyle factors that can support our kids’ immunity, giving us power in fighting off runny noses, coughs, and more.  A healthy, balanced diet is one of my primary lines of defense when it comes to keeping my boys healthy. I make sure to offer fruits and vegetables several times throughout the day, include protein at each meal, and give them vitamin and mineral supplements to fill any nutrients gaps that may exist.


Even when my kids were new eaters, I was mindful of the foods I introduced to them. Fruits and vegetables were a priority as they pack so many vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, fiber and other nutrients that support immunity in a variety of ways. As a dietitian, I’m keenly aware that certain nutrients can have an especially beneficial impact on immune support. For example, beta-glucan is a form of carbohydrate found in some plants, bacteria, and fungi that appears to have immunostimulating properties. In fact, one study found kids who took a supplemental form of baker’s yeast beta-glucan had fewer incidences of common childhood infectious illness and episodes of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI). While this important nutrient can be found in foods, like oats, barley, and rye, your young kid may not be able to eat these nutritious foods in quantities that contain enough beta-glucan.


A healthy immune system is among one of the top developmental concerns for parents. Beech-Nut Naturals® created a line of jars with immune system support. This means even new eaters as young at 8 months old can enjoy delicious purees with added beta glucan while learning new textures.  With three flavor varieties as part of their immune system support line, you’ll find familiar ingredients in these jarred foods. Banana, pumpkin & orange, pear, kale & orange; and apple, blueberry & ginger varieties combine nutrient dense ingredients with beta-glucan yeast to create flavorful food for young eaters.


🏆 Beech-Nut Naturals Jars with Immune System Support were just awarded Parent’s “Best Food Awards 2023.”


🟠 You probably know that oranges are a rich source of vitamin C. Research indicates vitamin C is critical to the growth and function of immune cells, and fiber also appears to have immune-enhancing effects. Offering your kids functional foods that not only appeal to their taste buds but can also enhances their immunity is a cornerstone to their health.


✨ Along with nutrient-dense ingredients, you’ll also find Beech-Nut Naturals® Immune System Support Jars aren’t made with any artificial preservatives, colors or flavors. These blends are gently cooked with indirect heat to preserve color, texture, flavor, and nutrients. You will also find that these recipes are non-GMO, which means they are made with ingredients that are not genetically modified. One of my favorite aspects of these jarred foods is they don’t contain any added sweeteners.


As I began introducing food to each of my boys, I noticed many packaged options contained unfamiliar ingredients and added sugar. While I believe sugar can be part of a healthy diet, it is not an ingredient I wanted to introduce to my kids early on. In fact, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise not to introduce foods with added sugars until after two years old! They should enjoy sweet flavors from natural sources, like fruit, rather than refined sugar void of valuable nutrients. For this reason, and many more, Beech-Nut products have been a staple for my kids—from their early eating days to today, as I offer my 3-year-old snacks to keep him satiated throughout busy days.


🌳 To further support my kids’ immune systems, I try to spend as much time outside as possible. Of course, the weather doesn’t always make this easy, but even just a few minutes a day outside can strengthen immune systems. There are a few reasons for this, one being vitamin D production. When the sun’s UV rays comes in contact with your skin, it is able to produce vitamin D in your body. Vitamin D is a nutrient with immune-supporting functions, and while we can consume foods that contain this vitamin, your kids can also produce it when they spend time outside. Lastly, time outdoors can reduce the transmission of common illness, reducing the chances that you kid catches another cold.


Through thoughtful food choices, supplements, and time outside, you can support for kids’ natural immunity. Even for your young eaters, Beech-Nut Naturals® Immune System Support Jars provide delicious products that seamlessly work in infants’ everyday eating.


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