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How to Boost Your Immune System

How to Boost Your Immune System

Your immune system – made up of your skin, gut, mucus and lymph nodes – is your body’s built-in protection against viruses and bacteria. Without it, you’d constantly be sick. To help keep your immune system healthy, include the following 10 nutrients in a well-balanced, whole foods diet* that is void of processed foods*.

  1. Vitamin C – Known for its immune-boosting properties, the best part about Vitamin C is that you can get adequate amounts in foods, which will provide you with more than just Vitamin C!
    Food high in Vitamin C: kiwi, bell peppers, strawberries, citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, and kale.
  1. Vitamin A - This is a fat soluble vitamin, so it is very important to consume fat with these foods in order to absorb it.
    Foods high in Vitamin A: liver, salmon, hard cheeses, sweet potato, kale, leafy greens, red bell pepper, and carrots
  2. Vitamin E - Another fat soluble vitamin, so be sure to consume fat with these foods in order for your body to absorb it.
    Foods high in Vitamin E: almonds, avocado, peanuts, rainbow trout, salmon, extra virgin olive oil, shrimp, and butternut squash
  3. Vitamin D: This vitamin is commonly referred to as the sunshine vitamin.
    Foods with a good source of Vitamin D: cheese, fortified milk/nut milks, egg yolks, salmon, tuna, sardines, mushrooms
  4. Zinc - This mineral plays a role in boosting white blood cell count, which helps to support immune function.
    Foods high in Zinc: meat, shellfish, fish, eggs, yogurt, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds
  5. Magnesium - This mineral has been shown to help fight inflammation in the body, and is often lacking in the typical American diet.
    Foods high in Magnesium: spinach, seeds, lima beans, tuna, brown rice, almonds, 85% dark chocolate, avocadoes, yogurt, bananas
  6. B Vitamins - This covers a category of 8 essential vitamins that work individually and as a group to help support immune function.
    Foods high in B vitamins: meat, seafood, eggs, yogurt, cheese, beans and lentils, dark leafy greens
  7. Omega 3 - These are specific fats that are known to be anti-inflammatory.
    Foods high in Omega 3 fats: salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, halibut, eggs, oysters, chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts.
  8. Probiotics - These are known as healthy bacteria. They are commonly taken as a supplement but can be found in the diet.
    Foods rich in probiotics: yogurt with “live active cultures”, fermented foods (sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi), aged cheeses, kombucha, raw apple cider vinegar
  9. Flavanoids - This is a type of antioxidant that can be found in things like green tea, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds

Now that you know which nutrients are important for immune function, here are some tips on fitting enough into your diet:

  • Aim for 2 servings of fatty fish per week
  • Fill half of your plate with vegetables
  • Snack on fruits and vegetables along with nuts, seeds or cheese
  • Make salad dressings out of olive oil and vinegar
  • Include things like lower sugar yogurt, eggs, and fruit for breakfast vs typical breakfast foods
  • Use healthy fats when cooking, like extra virgin olive oil
  • Make a smoothie daily! Ex: unsweet almond milk, frozen berries, handful of spinach, plain Greek yogurt, almonds
  • Find creative ways to cook meats like grilling, pan searing, roasting, braising
  • Try 2 new recipes weekly

*whole foods diet - a diet that consists of mostly fresh or frozen foods and some packaged foods that have a short ingredients list, these foods usually require some preparation

*processed foods - foods that are sold ready to eat in bags/boxes/cans that have a long list of ingredients as well as added preservatives, sugars, colors, flavors, etc.