We know that proper nutrition is important but did you know it is also important for a strong immune system? Good nutrition (consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats) may offer protection from seasonal illness and other health problems. Of course, no one food or supplement can prevent illness but you may support your immune system by including the following nutrients in your overall eating plan on a daily basis.
Protein: plays an important role in healing, recovery and rebuilding. Try to eat a variety of protein source such as soy products (tofu, edamame), beans, seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, unsalted nuts and seeds.
Vitamin A: helps regulate the immune system and protect against infections by keeping skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, intestines and respiratory system healthy. Good sources of vitamin A are sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, spinach, red bell peppers, apricots, eggs or foods labeled as “vitamin A fortified,” such as milk or some cereal.
Vitamin C: supports the immune system by stimulating the formation of antibodies. Include more sources by choosing citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and tangerines, or red bell pepper, papaya, strawberries, tomato juice or foods fortified with vitamin C, such as some cereal.
Vitamin D: can modulate the adaptive immune response. Found in fatty fish, eggs, milk and 100% juices that are fortified with vitamin D.
Vitamin E: works as an antioxidant and may support immune function. Include vitamin E in your diet with fortified cereals, sunflower seeds, almonds, and peanut butter.
Zinc: helps the immune system work properly and may help wounds heal. Zinc can be found in lean meat, poultry, seafood, milk, whole grain products, beans, seeds and nuts.
Probiotics: promote “good” bacteria in the gut. It can be found in cultured dairy products (yogurt, Kefir) and fermented food such as kimchi.
Other nutrients: including vitamin B6, B12, copper, folate, selenium and iron also may support immune response and play a role in healthy eating.
Information from: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics