Maximizing Your Immune System to Keep You Stronger Longer
This hot question these days has been, “How can I avoid catching the coronavirus?” While it is still unknown how to fully prevent or manage this disease, the best known prevention methods are hand washing, social distancing and self-isolation. There is not enough research yet to confirm that boosting your immune system by eating a nutrient dense diet will prevent you from contracting COVID-19. But it definitely will make you stronger and can help protect you from other ailments, such as colds and the flu.
Eighty percent of your immune system is in the gut. And when your gut is healthy, the ability to fight off infections increases. To keep a strong immune system it is recommended to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, found in foods such as fatty fish, nuts and olive oil. Consuming foods high in nutrients such as vitamin C, zinc and other antioxidants shown to help reduce inflammation and fight infection. Here is an overview of some types of nutrients that your immune system needs to adequately perform and the foods to find them in.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin needed for normal growth and development. It’s an essential nutrient, acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants help fight free radicals, a type of unstable molecule known to damage the immune system.
To increase your vitamin C intake, add these foods to your diet:
citrus fruit (grapefruits, lemons, oranges)
red bell peppers
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble compound with powerful antioxidant properties. Getting enough vitamin E is essential for the immune system, blood vessel health, and keeping the skin youthful.
To get your fill of vitamin E, stock up on these foods:
grapeseed/safflower/wheat germ oil
Zinc is an essential mineral involved in the production of certain immune cells and is found in cells throughout the body. It helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses. It also helps wounds heal and is important for proper senses of taste and smell. Low levels of zinc can impair your immune function.
Here are some top food sources of zinc:
Another type of antioxidant, carotenoids are a class of pigments found naturally in a number of plants. When consumed, carotenoids are converted into vitamin A (a nutrient that helps regulate the immune system). Carotenoids are better absorbed when cooked or eaten with fat.
Look to these foods to boost your carotenoids:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of essential fatty acid known to suppress inflammation and keep the immune system in check. Although it has not been confirmed whether omega-3s can help fight off infections (such as the common cold), research suggests that omega-3s can protect against autoimmune disorders like Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Try these omega-3-rich foods:
oily fish (including mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines, herring, and trout)
A few other immune boosting favorites high in antioxidants or immune boosting vitamins:
white, green or black tea
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