Immunity has been an understandable focus for consumers as COVID-19 continues to impact human health.
While there are no magic bullets that will keep you from getting sick, there are some basic steps people can take to lead a healthy life and support your immune system. Little things can add up and make a difference, such as stress management, regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet, which is where dairy comes into play.
Eating a variety of healthy foods helps supply and replenish 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. Therefore, they require a constant supply of essential vitamins and minerals because of how active they are when they are defending and protecting the body.
Your immune system is like having an internal army that uses everything at its disposal to fight off an infection when it sets in. This is why nutrition and immunity are interconnected, and when we think of nutrient-dense foods that can support normal immune function, dairy is among the widely accessible, affordable, and versatile go-to options.
Vitamins A and D, protein, selenium, zinc, B6 (pyridoxine), and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E all are important to support immunity. These nutrients can be obtained from eating dairy foods and fruits and vegetables, yet only two in 10 Americans eat the recommended amount of these foods.
Milk provides vitamins A and D, protein, zinc, and selenium. Cheese and yogurt also contain protein, and yogurt is a good source of zinc.
Knowing that consumers are seeking foods that offer benefits beyond nutrition and taste has caused the dairy checkoff to speak about dairy with a new lens. Milk certainly has much more to offer beyond its 13 essential nutrients, and decades of checkoff-led research through National Dairy Council is allowing us to address consumers’ evolving definition of health and wellness.
Our consumer insights team found that we have an opportunity to meet consumers where their interests lie in four key areas. In addition to immunity, dairy can offer benefits related to energy and digestive health as well as being enjoyed during calming moments. Due to National Dairy Council’s deep understanding of dairy’s research-based benefits, we can hit the ground running to address new consumer expectations.
Evolving with consumers to tell the story of how dairy not only helps the body but also more holistic wellness, including how it helps make people feel, is a great opportunity for dairy. It puts us into a new place of relevance with consumers, particularly younger generations who have moved away from milk consumption.
There is great potential for reimagining dairy in ways that complement its strong legacy of nutrition excellence.
To learn more about your national dairy checkoff, visit www.USDairy.com or send a request to join our Facebook group. To reach us directly, send an email to TalkToTheCheckoff@dairy.org.