November 19

7 Vital Nutrients for Boosting Immune System Health

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by Julie Baker

The cold and flu season is here, and after the past year, your body's immune system needs a boost now more than ever. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet to improve immune system health; it comes down to proper diet and exercise and a solid commitment to each.  

Therefore, if you want to help your body combat all those microscopic invaders, like viruses and bacteria, you need to commit to lifestyle changes. Routine workouts are one thing, but your body will benefit the most from proper and balanced nutrition. Your diet should consist primarily of fruits and vegetables to ensure powerhouse meals packed with vitamins crucial to fighting infections. However, you should be selective, focusing on the key nutrients essential to building your body's defenses.

1. Antioxidants

Often found in plant-based foods, antioxidants are responsible for fighting off free radicals and other molecules that can damage your body's tissues. The foods providing the most significant supply of antioxidants include: 

  • Beets 
  • Berries 
  • Leafy greens 
  • Red grapes 
  • Artichokes 
  • Carrots 
  • Sweet potatoes 
  • Nuts 
  • Dark chocolate

2. Protein

While meat sources provide the most concentrated sources of protein, they are not the only options. Protein, whether you get it from plants or meat, is essential to the immune system. It is made of amino acids, which fuel intestinal immune functions. Without enough protein, you are at greater risk of developing illnesses and diseases. The best sources of protein include: 

  • Beef 
  • Pork 
  • Fish 
  • Poultry 
  • Eggs 
  • Nuts 
  • Yogurt

3. Vitamin A

For rapid recovery from an illness, your body needs enough vitamin A. This crucial nutrient helps with white blood cell production, including the proper function of these integral cells. If your diet lacks vitamin A, you are more prone to infections and slower recovery. To keep your body as healthy as possible, fill your diet with nutrient-dense foods, including: 

  • Eggs 
  • Carrots 
  • Liver oils
  • Fish oils 
  • Leafy greens 
  • Squash 
  • Peppers 
  • Sweet potatoes 
  • Milk

4. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is like a warrior. It protects the body against foreign invaders, kills bacteria that slip past the guard, and supports immune cell function. To populate your system with a viable nutrient army, don't forget to load up on foods rich in vitamin C, including: 

  • Citrus fruits 
  • Tropical fruits 
  • Bell peppers 
  • Broccoli 
  • Leafy greens 
  • Cantaloupe 
  • Strawberries 
  • Tomatoes

5. Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency contributes to weakening bones and increases the risk of infections like the flu. While stepping outside for a minimum of 15 minutes per day can increase your vitamin D intake, you can also choose several vitamin-rich foods: 

  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, etc.) 
  • Yogurt 
  • Milk 
  • Orange juice

6. Vitamin E

Vitamin E contains antioxidant properties, meaning that it is also efficient at eliminating free radicals in the body. Some of the best dietary sources of vitamin E include:  

  • Nuts 
  • Seeds 
  • Sunflower oil 
  • Safflower oil 
  • Avocados

7. Zinc

Zinc is another powerhouse nutrient. The mineral boosts the production of immune cells, reduces the risk of infection, and contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Some of the best foods containing zinc include: 

  • Meat 
  • Shellfish 
  • Oysters 
  • Chickpeas 
  • Cashews 
  • Whole grains 

While a healthy diet containing all the above foods is an excellent way to improve immune system health, it is not the only way. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is equally important to lower your risk of infection and disease.  

What are some other dietary choices you have found or some lifestyle changes you have made to improve your immune system? Leave a comment.


Tags

Health, Healthy, Immune System, Immunity, Nutrients


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  1. Thanks for the advice, most doctors don't even tell us what is needed in our diets to maintain proper health. I really appreciate you taking the time to offer this vital information. Thanks again!

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