Foods to Eat For a Healthy Immune System
Our immune systems are sort of like the unsung heroes of our bodies. Constantly putting up a valiant fight against the never-ending onslaught of bacteria and nasty bugs that threaten to make us sick, our immune systems deserve far more credit than we give it. If you enjoy being healthy, and who doesn’t, you’re going to want to make sure your immune system is performing at its best at all times.
Think about it like this: your immune system is a high-performing sports car. Just like you wouldn’t put low-quality gasoline in its tank, your immune system requires foods that are rich in nutrients to ensure it continues to perform well. In the spirit of living a healthy lifestyle, here are the foods you should be eating.
The most commonly known antioxidant that supports a healthy immune system is vitamin C. Vitamin C helps fight off nasty molecules known as free radicals, which are known to damage the immune system. There are plenty of vitamin C supplements out there, but it’s best to get your daily serving from whole food sources. These foods include:
- Citrus fruits
- Red and green peppers
Just like its cousin C, vitamin E is known for its powerful antioxidant properties and its ability to keep your immune system primed and ready to fight off illness. Vitamin E is especially important for older people, as the immune system begins to weaken with age. Look to these foods for your vitamin E:
- Sunflower seeds
- Peanut butter
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
One potential threat to the immune system is systemic inflammation within your body. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to help suppress inflammation, so with no inflammation bogging your body down, your immune system is left to focus on doing its job. In addition to bolstering its efficiency, omega-3’s can help protect against diseases like Crohn’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis. These are foods rich in Omega-3’s:
- Oily fish like salmon, tuna, herring, and trout
The immune system produces immune cells that are tasked with fighting off invasive bacteria and viruses. To do so, it requires essential minerals like zinc to keep your body reading to fight anything off. Even slightly lowered zinc levels can have an impact on your immune system’s function. To keep your zinc levels in an acceptable range, try these food sources:
- Baked beans
The body needs protein in order to build and repair muscle tissue and fight back infection. As the immune system attempts to beat back bacteria and viruses, it requires ample protein in order to produce antibodies. With little protein in your diet, not only will you feel weakness and fatigue, but your immune system will lack the necessary building blocks to keep it running smoothly. Here are some protein-rich foods you should incorporate in your diet: