Eating for A Healthy Immune System

Written By Tracy & Keim Chiropractic LLC on January 21, 2021

Eating for a Healthy Immune System

Did you know that you can strengthen your immune system through diet? When your doctor tells you to eat whole foods and focus on fruits and vegetables, it’s about more than losing weight or helping your heart. A healthy diet can influence every aspect of your health—including your immune system’s ability to fight off illnesses.

The basics of eating for a healthy immune system are therefore exactly the same as healthy eating in general. Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Choose lean meat and whole grains, and limit your fat and sugar intake. And, of course, drink lots of water.

However, there are a few foods that are real powerhouses in the immunity-boosting department because of their high levels of essential vitamins and nutrients. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C immediately springs to mind when talking about boosting the immune system. Vitamin C is crucial to helping your immune system function properly, but in order to reap the full benefits it has to be a regular part of your diet. Some of the best foods for Vitamin C include:

Citrus fruits – There’s a reason all those vitamin C supplements are orange-flavored. Citrus fruits are a delicious source of vitamin C, and they really come into their own in winter—which is great news for your immune system!

Bell pepper – Although it may not spring to mind as readily as oranges or grapefruit, bell peppers are even higher in vitamin C than citrus fruits, with a red bell pepper containing almost three times as much as an orange, ounce for ounce.

Tropical Fruits – If you prefer something a little more exotic, tropical fruits like papaya and kiwi are another excellent source of vitamin C, and also contain high levels of potassium and folate.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A has anti-inflammatory properties, making it another important part of a healthy immune system. Some of the best food sources of vitamin A are:

Orange-colored veggies – Carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and butternut squash are high in vitamin A and make delicious stews, soups, and casseroles that are perfect for cold weather.

Broccoli – Another veggie high in vitamin A and antioxidants, broccoli can give you the most benefit when it’s eaten raw or steamed.

Spinach – Spinach and other dark leafy greens are rich in vitamin A, and spinach also offers a vegetarian-friendly dose of iron. These types of greens lose some of their benefit with cooking, so it’s best to either eat them raw or cook them very lightly.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E also contributes to healthy immune function. Nuts, seeds, and healthy fats tend to be high in this important vitamin, which is also great for your skin and can nourish it through the cold months, when skin tends to become dry. For an extra dose of vitamin E, try:

Nuts and Nut Butters – Almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts, as well as nut butters made from them are more than a great snack. They’re also a delicious way to get your vitamin E.

Avocado – Packed with vitamin E and healthy fats, avocado is another yummy way to help your immune system.

Sunflower seeds – Just right for snacking, sunflower seeds also come with high levels of selenium—another important component your immune system needs to function properly.

Other Foods for a Healthy Immune System

Other foods for a healthy immune system include:

Garlic – This flavorful vegetable is high in allicin, which makes it a helpful tool in fighting infections.

Ginger – Ginger is useful in boosting immunity. It’s also a great choice for at-home treatment of symptoms if you do become sick since its anti-inflammatory properties can soothe a sore throat and ease nausea. 

Yogurt – This is an excellent source of vitamin D (check out our post on the importance of vitamin D in winter) as well as good bacteria that can balance your gut. When choosing yogurt, opt for unsweetened varieties (you can lightly sweeten at home) that contain live and active cultures.

Fish – Salmon, mackerel, and tuna can also be good sources of the “sunshine vitamin,” plus they’re high in protein that can help you feel full longer.

The Best Diet for Immune Health

Immunity-boosting foods like those listed above are a great place to start when you’re looking to strengthen your immune system through diet. Keep in mind that your immune system is complex, so the best way to ensure you’re getting plenty of vitamins and nutrients is to eat a wide variety of healthy whole foods—with a special emphasis on fruits and veggies. One of the many benefits to strengthening your immune system through diet is that you get more than just immunity-boosting vitamins—you get a whole host of other nutrients, vitamins, and fiber for whole-body wellness. Eating for a healthy immune system does more than just prevent illness. It can help you look great and feel your best all year round.

Sources: 

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/foods-that-boost-the-immune-system

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/eat-these-foods-to-boost-your-immune-system/


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