Feeding your body with right foods may help activate proper function of the immune system. If you’re looking for easy ways to reduce the risk or even prevent illnesses such as the common cold and other flu-like illnesses, your first step should be a visit to the local grocery store.
Some foods are better than others when it comes to priming the immune system. Here is a quick look at a few key nutrients that are critical for proper immune function and which foods you can find them.
A fat soluble vitamin, vitamin A promotes good vision, gene replication, healthy immune function and proper skin health.
There are two ways in which vitamin A is available to humans:
- preformed vitamin A;
Preformed vitamin A is found predominantly in animal sources like liver and butter, while carotenoids are found in plant sources.
Vitamin A is essential for healthy mucous membranes, respiratory, urinary, and intestinal tracts, which all help the body to protect against infections. It regulates the immune system and plays a key role in producing white blood cells which fight off infections within the body.
Top foods for vitamin A
- Lamb’s liver (735% RDA per 3oz)
- Sweet potato (214% RDA per cup)
- Carrot (148%)
- Tuna (143% DV per 6oz)
- Pumpkin (127% DV per cup)
An essential nutrient, meaning that the body is unable to synthesize it on its own, humans must on rely on their diet for an adequate source of vitamin C.
Vitamin C performs a variety of functions throughout the body. Primarily by donating electrons in biochemical reactions. It is required by the body for the development and maintenance of scar tissue, blood vessels, collagen synthesis and proper iron absorption. It’s also an antioxidant. Antioxidants help fight free radicals, a type of molecule known to damage and disrupt the immune system.
Studies have shown that high doses of vitamin C can boost immune function, and in turn reducing the severity and duration of cold and flu like symptoms.
Top foods for vitamin C:
- Guava (419% DV per cup)
- Red and green peppers (211%)
- Kiwi fruit (185%)
- Strawberries (108%)
- Oranges (106%)
Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin, meaning it is required to be consumed with fatty acids to be absorbed by the body. Similar to vitamin C, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and is also important in proper heart function, protection against heart disease and a reduction in chronic inflammation.
Top foods for vitamin E:
- Almonds & sunflower seeds (49% DV per oz)
- Avocado (28% DV per avocado)
- Spinach (25% DV per cup)
- Pumpkin (18%)
- Kiwi fruit (18%)
Zinc is an extremely versatile mineral required as a cofactor by more than 300 enzymes. Virtually all cells contain zinc, with the highest concentrations being found in muscle and bone.
Zinc supports many functions including the production of certain immune cells, building proteins, wound healing, reproduction and creating DNA. Zinc is also essential for creation and activation of T-lymphocytes, which are the core of adaptive immunity, the system that tailors the body’s immune response to specific pathogens.
Several studies have shown that supplementing with zinc can protect against respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold. Similar to vitamin C, Zinc may also reduce the severity and duration of cold and flu like symptoms.
Top foods for zinc:
- Oysters (327% DV per half dozen)
- Beef chuck steak (140% DV per 5oz)
- Chicken leg (49% DV per leg)
- Tofu (36% DV per cup)
- Pork chop (32% DV per 6oz)