In the last few weeks the world has become much more aware of how important proper hygiene is to protecting ourselves from diseases, especially handwashing. As Americans buy all the hand sanitizer they can find to protect themselves, it is important to remember what we put in our bodies is just as important. Food contains natural medicine that can boost your immunity. Below are key nutrients to eat regularly to help keep us well.
Protein – our bodies need protein to produce disease-fighting cells. Eat a variety of protein foods
including seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, dairy, nuts and seeds.
Vitamin A – helps regulate the immune system and protects from infections by keeping skin and tissues
in the mouth, stomach, intestines and respiratory system healthy. It also provides antioxidant effect.
Foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, cantaloupe, kale, spinach, red bell peppers, apricots,
and eggs are good sources of vitamin A.
Vitamin C – boosts immunity by stimulating the formation of antibodies and provides antioxidant and
anti-inflammatory activity. Citrus fruits: oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and lemons, are excellent
sources of this vitamin. Other foods such as red bell pepper, papaya, berries, tomatoes and leafy
greens also provide us with vitamin C.
Vitamin E – works as an antioxidant and helps our body fight infection. Sunflower seeds, almonds,
vegetable oils (such as sunflower or safflower oil), hazelnuts, peanut butter and spinach all provide us
with vitamin E.
Zinc – supports the immune system and may help wounds heal by controlling inflammation. Zinc can be
found in lean meat, poultry, seafood, milk, yogurt, whole grain products, beans and nuts.
Selenium – may stimulate immune system. You can find it in garlic, fish and shellfish, broccoli, Brazil
nuts and barley.
Written by: Melissa Hawthorne, MS, RD, LD, CDE