How Immune Boosting Nutrients Can Protect Against Disease
The immune system is a complex host of cells and proteins that defends the body against infection and disease. Just like other body systems, lifestyle factors like our diet can impact the strength and efficacy of your immune system. A well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and other plant-based foods is often prescribed for many conditions like heart health, brain health, weight management, etc. It may come as no surprise, that plant-based foods are also great for boosting the immune systems. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes are full of different vitamins and minerals that help our immune system function properly and even increase its illness-fighting abilities. These nutrients act as antioxidants, which are vital for fighting off foreign invaders that may cause infection or inflammation in the body. Here are a some that are known to keep your immune system in tip-top shape:
Vitamin C is the nutrient we most often associate with fighting off colds or illness as it plays a vital role in your immune system’s natural ability to fight off infection. It is important to get Vitamin C in the diet even when you are not sick because you cannot produce or store this vitamin. Incorporate sources of it daily by eating oranges, red bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes and broccoli.
Vitamin D plays an important role in keeping your immune system strong. A recent study also suggests that Vitamin D supplementation may reduce risk for viral infections, including respiratory infections, by helping to reduce inflammation in the body. Food sources of vitamin D include mushrooms, fortified cereals and juices, as well as animal sources such as tuna, salmon, and fortified milk products.
Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that helps to decrease inflammation and aid the immune response. It also helps to protect the integrity of the first line of defense for your immune system – the skin! You can find vitamin A in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, mangoes and turnips.
Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant important for regulating and maintaining immune function. Green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli, peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, avocados, and fortified cereals and spreads are great sources of vitamin E.
Zinc plays a vital role in your immune system functioning by helping to increase production of white blood cells. These cells are responsible for destroying foreign invaders that enter the body and can cause illness or infection. You can find zinc in foods like nuts, seeds, lentils, beans and fortified cereals. Some non-plant sources include red meat and oysters.
Bottom Line: You can’t go wrong with incorporating a variety of plant-based foods into your diet. In addition to eating well, be sure to exercise regularly, get adequate sleep and practice proper hygiene to help keep your immune system in fighting shape. Learn more ways to stay healthy and find out about other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.