Did you know you can boost your immunity with the foods you eat to help prevent getting ill?
- Having a healthy immune system is important for good health, to reduce illness and may offer some protection from seasonal illness like the flu.
- Good nutrition is essential for a strong immune system. A deficiency in even one nutrient can make a difference in your body being able to fight off illness or infection.
The following nutrients from the foods you eat foods as a part of a healthful diet are recognized for their roles to boost immunity and help protect against infection.
- Protein is a part of the natural defense mechanism of the body. Enjoy a variety of protein containing foods like lean meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dried beans and peas, nuts, seeds and soy products.
- Vitamin A helps to regulate the immune system and protects from infection by keeping skin and other body tissues healthy. Good sources of beta carotene that the body converts to vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, deep green leafy vegetables like kale, collards and spinach, eggs, and foods labeled as “vitamin A fortified” like milk and cereal.
- Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, stimulates the formation of antibodies that protect from infection and boost immunity. It is essential for growth and development of tissues throughout the body. Many fruits and vegetables including citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers and Brussels sprouts, among others are goods sources of this nutrient.
- Vitamin E is an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and may improve immunity. Vegetable oils like sunflower, safflower and cottonseed, nuts like hazelnuts and almonds, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, peanut butter and vitamin E fortified cereals are good sources.
- Zinc helps the immune system work properly and may support wound healing. Lean meat, seafood, poultry, beans, whole grains and nuts are good sources of zinc.
Other nutrients including B6, folate, selenium, iron and copper may also influence the immune response as well as prebiotics and probiotics.
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