5 Nutrients to Boost Your Immune System
Ever wonder why hot chicken soup is known as a cold remedy? For centuries, it has been famous as a go-to when someone’s under the weather and wants something comforting. Yes, it can give immediate relief from the hot steam; but the real reason why it has been used for so long is that it offers many nutrients essential for our immune system. The mix of vegetables and chicken provides protein, vitamin A, C, and antioxidants, which have been clinically proven to improve our health.
Although our immune system is pretty complex and is influenced by many factors, a balanced diet filled with vital minerals and vitamins (along with lifestyle habits such as good sleep) helps fight off disease and infection.
Here are some critical nutrients during these cold winter months:
Vitamin C: Vitamin C seems to get a lot of traction in wintertime, and for a good reason. It can help improve and prevent infections and it promotes the development of antibodies. Excellent sources of vitamin C include oranges, tomatoes, avocados, and leafy green vegetables.
Protein: Although you probably wouldn’t think of protein as a cold remedy, protein plays an important role! This is because many cells in our immune system consist of protein. Great sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish, and eggs.
Zinc: Zinc helps to produce new immune system cells. Some sources of zinc are whole grains, seeds, nuts, lean poultry, and meat products.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A is anti-inflammatory and helps promote the growth of immune-system cells. Excellent sources of vitamin A include meat products, fish, carrots, cantaloupe, dark green leafy vegetables, and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant and helps to prevent cell damage from free radicals. (In other words, it helps prevent infections!). Great sources include high-fat foods such as seeds, nuts, and sunflower oil.
Getting through these colder months can be challenging; it can take a significant toll on our well-being. That is why it is so important to understand which foods and nutrients help boost our immune system. Most Americans are not consuming enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains essential to keeping us healthy. What we consume is such a critical component of our physical health, so be sure to have a well-balanced diet consisting of vital nutrients. Instead of hibernating during the colder months, take control of your health; your physical and mental well-being will thank you for it!
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Written by: Ahuva Weissmandl, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern