Functional Medicine. A New Day to Feel Better!

Eating to Strengthen Your Immune System

“Let thy food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”

Ancient Greek Physician, Hippocrates

 

Healthy foods provide many vitamins and minerals to keep us strong and feeling good. Did you know, feeding your body certain foods may help keep your immune system strong as well? If you’re looking to prevent colds, the flu, and other infections, look no further than your local grocery store.

While no supplement will cure or prevent disease, a balanced healthy diet can help prepare the body to better fight disease. For example, the antioxidants found in plant-based foods helps decrease inflammation. This is important, as chronic inflammation is linked to numerous health conditions. In addition, the fiber in plant foods feeds your gut microbiome – the healthy bacteria in your gut, thereby improving your immunity by keeping harmful pathogens from multiplying in your digestive tract.

Instead of relying on supplements, choose foods containing these 6 vitamins and minerals that can boost your immune health!

  1. Vitamin C

Vitamin C can fight infections by stimulating the production of white blood cells. Look for these foods high in vitamin C: citrus fruits, leafy greens (especially spinach and kale), bell peppers, kiwi, Brussels sprouts, papaya, strawberries.

  1. Vitamin A

Crucial for the development of certain immune cells necessary to fight infection, the vitamin A precursor can be found in plant carotenoids such as: carrots, pumpkin, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, dark green leafy vegetables.

  1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the most powerful nutrients for supporting our immune system. Although food sources are limited, you can find vitamin D in: salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, egg yolks, vitamin D fortified foods such as milk, orange juice and cereals.

Since vitamin D is such an important micronutrient to our health, talk with your doctor to find out if you need a supplement.

  1. Vitamin E

As a fat-soluble vitamin and powerful antioxidant that helps your body fight off infection, think high-fat plant foods like seeds and nuts to get your vitamin E: almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts/peanut butter, sunflower seeds.

  1. Zinc

Crucial to maintaining overall health and needed for the production of new immune system cells, zinc is primarily found in animal foods, but can also be found in some vegetarian foods: oysters, crab, lean meats and poultry, baked beans, yogurt, chickpeas.

  1. Selenium

Selenium has a powerful effect in regulating our immune system response. With the exception of Brazil nuts, animal foods are the best sources: seafood (tuna, halibut, sardines), meat and liver, poultry, cottage cheese.

By making a few simple swaps to your diet, you can increase your intake of these important nutrients that support a health immune system and keep you functioning at your best!

Vitamin Booster Smoothie

1 orange, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
1/3 cup mango, roughly chopped
6-8 ounces water

Put the orange, carrot, celery and mango in the blender, top up with water, then puree until smooth.

To learn more about immune boosting nutrients and how to incorporate new habits into your routine, sign up to work with our team of Registered Dietitians at www.joingemcare.com.