#DYK these 7 foods help fight respiratory diseases? A local doctor explains how


plate of sushi
Raw sushi is a great option for filling that vitamin D quota, sans cream cheese and tempura. Photo via Unsplash

We know social distancing, wearing a mask and staying six feet apart helps us stay safe from COVID-19 and other respiratory infections. But did you know vitamins in our diet help fight diseases too? Dr. David Hardin, an internal medicine physician with TrustCare in Vestavia Hills, showed us a few foods he recommends we add to our grocery lists.

Of course, a whole balanced diet is the way to go. Be sure to talk to your primary care physician about what looks healthy for you.

These vitamins help fight illness, but they don’t encompass everything. Here are a few suggestions to start.

Vitamin D

sushi, vitamins help fight
Next time you opt for Thai takeout from a Birmingham restaurant, take a look at their sushi menus. Photo via Thai Basil and Sushi


“Vitamin D itself helps to keep our immune system from going haywire. That’s one of the things that we’re seeing when it comes to COVID, the flu or any other kind of respiratory bug.

(Vitamin D) looks like that it has some effect in terms of keeping your immune system from overreacting to cause any accidents because our bodies fight things by observation. That’s one of the ways we react to stressors and the whole concept is called oxidative stress. The antioxidants can keep it from getting out of control.”

Dr. David Hardin, M.D., Internal Medicine Physician, TrustCare

Find it in…

We hope you’re a fan of fish because it’s full of vitamin D. Consider adding salmon, mackerel and tuna to your plate. Sushi is another great option.

Not into fish? Household staples like whole milk and orange juice are usually packed with vitamin D.

We recommend getting takeout from…

Bamboo On 2nd never disappoints with its extensive sushi menu. Dr. Hardin also suggests Okinawa in Homewood.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, green veggies, vitamins helps fight
It’s not just orange juice. Dark green veggies and bell peppers contain vitamin C. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now


Like we talked about with vitamin D, vitamin C is another vital antioxidant that helps fight respiratory bugs. Teamwork makes the dreamwork—none of these vitamins can do it on their own.

“Vitamin C works well when it’s got vitamin D to work alongside it…If you have just one of them, you’re only going to focus on one part of the immune system to the detriment of the rest of it.”

Dr. David Hardin, M.D., Internal Medicine Physician, TrustCare

Find it in…

You’re probably no stranger to reaching for the Emergen-C when you’re feeling down. Dr. Hardin says while there are supplements that will provide your body with vitamin C, drinking a glass of OJ might be a better way to go about getting it.

Other foods with vitamin C include dark green veggies—spinach, kale and bell peppers to name a few. Those types of food are filled with iron and zinc too (the whole teamwork thing again!), which support your immune system and hormone health.

We recommend getting takeout from…

Luckily, kale is a pretty trendy veggie so it’s not hard to find it in salads at your favorite local restaurant or one of these Birmingham farmers markets.

Vitamin E

vitamin helps fight
Good thing we have a great peanut shop on Morris Ave.— they’re full of vitamin E. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now


“(Vitamin E) particularly helps infections. That vitamin gets absorbed into the bloodstream really well. So, it can go all over and help any virus that might get in there and help our immune system get after it.”

Dr. David Hardin, M.D., Internal Medicine Physician, TrustCare

Find it in…

Break out the trail mix—vitamin E is primarily found in a lot of nuts. Start by filling your pantry with sunflower seeds, sunflower oil, hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts and peanut butter.

We recommend getting takeout from…

More likely than not you’ve already got some vitamin E stored away in your cupboard. But, why not make a trip to the Alabama Peanut Company to pick up a pound or two?


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Automatic Seafood is a local go-to spot for great seafood. Photo via Automatic Seafood on Facebook


Interestingly enough, zinc shows promise in fighting COVID-19 and other respiratory-type issues because the virus can’t always replicate its genetic material with zinc added in the mix.

“Zinc is used for a lot of the enzymes in our body…It’s almost like grease and machinery in there. Zinc keeps the immune system going…The proteins that are fighting viruses work better when they get zinc to catalyze reactions.”

Dr. David Hardin, M.D., Internal Medicine Physician, TrustCare

Find it in…

A lot of foods, actually. First, seafood, again, but this time it’s found in items like oysters, crab and shellfish. You’ll also see it in lean meats such as chicken and lean beef.

Zinc is fortified in yogurt, too—put those Chobanis and YoPlaits in your shopping cart. Don’t forget baked beans and chickpeas as well.

We recommend getting takeout from…

Our top pick, along with Dr. Hardin, has to be Automatic Seafood. But, we’ve highlighted plenty of other options from crab legs to oysters and more.

You could look into these farm-to-table restaurants for those lean meats.

Vitamins help fight disease, but check in with a primary physician first

TrustCare staff outside office in Vestavia Hills
The friendly staff a TrustCare in Vestavia Hills will take good care of you. Photo via TrustCare

All these are great tips, but it’s important to remember everyone’s body is different and no amount of seafood replaces care by a professional.

Your doctor may have different recommendations depending on your personal body type. If you have questions about your health, walk into a Birmingham TrustCare at your convenience and see a member of their healthcare team.

“At the end of the day, the best way to understand what is best for you is by getting a relationship with a primary care physician. Because it’s all case by case and then you can dial in a health plan and a diet that serves what each individual person is doing with their life.”

Dr. David Hardin, M.D., Internal Medicine Physician, TrustCare

Learn more from the pros at TrustCare when you visit their website, Facebook and Instagram.

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Irene Richardson
Irene Richardson
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