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A strong immune system can help you work and play better. There are plenty of factors -- including the environment and a poor diet -- that can undermine proper functioning of the immune system. While a healthy immune system doesn’t guarantee that you will never get sick, it does help you avoid contracting colds and the flu and often reduces the duration of an illness.
Can you improve your immune system with food? You bet. Learn more about how the contents of your grocery cart can support your immune system today. Consider these 5 top foods the next time you shop.
Consider the building blocks you place in your body every time you take a bite. Eating more whole foods and fortified foods can give you the vitamins and minerals necessary to support your immune system and your body’s diverse biochemical reactions. Invest in eating healthy foods to keep yourself and your family healthy.
Certain habits, such as smoking or drinking alcohol, may undermine your immune system health. Speak with a healthcare professional to determine the best approach to support your specific nutritional needs.
Citrus Fruits – Getting your vitamin C from food makes sense. Oranges and lemons naturally come to mind when you think of produce high in vitamin C, but know that you can get the vitamin C your immune system needs from eating kale, spinach, bell pepper, papaya and strawberries. Consuming foods high in vitamin C along with certain beans and vegetables rich in iron – such as lentils and kale – allows the body to absorb the iron more effectively. This is important for vegetarians and others who eat little to no meat.
Bananas – Bananas are not only a prebiotic food – supporting gut health – they are high in vitamin B6. This vitamin is needed to keep the immune system functioning properly. Bananas are an excellent base for your next smoothie! Other foods high in vitamin B6 include cold-water fish, lean chicken breast, chickpeas and potatoes. Do not get prebiotics mixed up with probiotics. Prebiotics serve as food for probiotics. Good sources of prebiotics include: garlic, leeks, and onions.
Almonds– Almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts and sunflower seeds provide needed vitamin E – an important antioxidant – to the body. If you need a healthy snack, consider raw or roasted almonds as an option. Also, cashews are rich in zinc, which powers your immune system by activating T-lymphocytes.
Carrots – Carrots and other fruits and vegetables high in carotenoids help support immune system function. Carotenoids turn into vitamin A in the body and provide an antioxidant effect. Other foods with carotenoids include sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash and cantaloupe. Stock the fridge and indulge in immune system boosting soups and more!
Fatty fish – Fish like salmon, tuna and sardines are natural sources of vitamin D. Even though vitamin D is produced in the body when people get sufficient levels of sunlight, it may be necessary to supplement. A surprising number of people are vitamin D deficient. A number of fortified foods on the market - such as orange juice, milk and cereals - can help you get an adequate amount of vitamin D.