Winter viruses swirling through the masses, kids trailing home sickness during back-to-school, and endless sniffles as spring flowers begin to bloom—no matter the season, our immune systems are working extra hard to combat all the harmful microbes that come our way. Keep your inner fighters going strong with proper nutrition to boost the immune system.
Support your immune function with good nutrition
Your body works hard even at rest, constantly operating in the background to keep you up and running. One of these vital functions is your immune system, which works to fight off threats, including harmful bacteria and viruses. While you can’t necessarily boost your immune system beyond its normal functioning, proper nutrition can ensure that your immune system has the nutrients it needs to do its job right. If you’ve ever wondered how nutrition affects the immune system, keep reading for some practical knowledge and tips!
Key micronutrients your immune system needs
There are a few key nutrients your body needs to function properly, and by intentionally adding these nutrients into your diet, you can help your body stay strong while fighting off harmful bacteria and viruses.
Iron: Iron is a mineral that can be found in your blood and is a major component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of your body and is critical for immune cell function. Iron can be found in beans, greens, and nuts.
Vitamin A: A fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin A works to keep the skin, tissues in the mouth, stomach, intestines, and respiratory system healthy and strong. It can be found in orange and red fruits and vegetables such as carrots, apricots, and bell peppers.
Vitamin C: An antioxidant that protects your cells from harmful free radicals, vitamin C also helps in the absorption of iron. You can add vitamin C into your diet by consuming citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, and tomatoes.
Vitamin D: A fat-soluble vitamin that helps your body absorb calcium, vitamin D is critical for building bones and fighting harmful pathogens. While you can absorb vitamin D from direct sunlight, you can also get this vitamin by consuming fatty fish like salmon, egg yolks, and fortified dairy.
Vitamin E: Another antioxidant, vitamin E protects the integrity of your cell membranes and repairs damage caused by free radicals. You can add vitamin E into your diet with seeds, nuts, vegetable oils, and peanut butter.
Zinc: Your body may not need much of it, but over 100 enzymes count on zinc to carry out their vital chemical reactions, helping to support cell growth and protein building. Zinc also helps to heal damaged tissues and supports a healthy immune system. Get more zinc into your diet by consuming whole grains, milk, seeds, and nuts.