Focusing on the immune system and proper nutrition, diet plays a vital role in building/maintaining a balanced immune system. A wide variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables, can have an impact on your immune system’s resiliency against infections. Make sure to include a mix of fruits and vegetables into your meal plan daily!
Single micronutrients can have many diverse effects on the body, but an excessive intake of some nutrients can also be associated with an impaired immune response. That’s why it’s important to obtain nutrients through the diet first and possibly look to supplementation to fill in the gaps where needed.
Nutrients – Vitamin C, E for immune support:
*Vitamins C and E help to protect cell membranes from damage caused by free radicals created during metabolism, toxin exposure, and pollutants.
Food sources of vitamin C include:
● Bell peppers (all colors)
● Citrus fruits (orange, lemons, limes, grapefruit)
● Tropical fruits (kiwi, pineapple, guava, mango, etc.)
● Berries (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, etc.)
● Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and leafy greens (e.g. kale, spinach)
● Cherries are a high form of whole food vitamin C
Foods sources of vitamin E include:
Sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, avocados, squash, kiwifruit, trout, shrimp, olive oil, wheat germ oil, and broccoli.
Immune Nutrients Vitamin A, Zinc, B6, B12, and B9.
*Vitamin A, Zinc are important for the structural integrity of skin and mucosal cells.
*Vitamins A, B6, and B12 and folate (B9) are essential for
the composition of intestinal microbiota.
Food sources of Vitamin A include sweet potatoes, carrots, fish (tuna), winter squashes, dark leafy greens, cantaloupe, lettuce, bell peppers, broccoli, and grapefruit.
Food sources of Zinc include:
● Seafood (crab, lobster oysters, etc.)
● Grass-fed beef
● Organic chicken (dark meat)
● Raw pumpkin seeds
● Raw cashews
Food sources of vitamin B6, B9 & B12 include:
Green beans, whole grains, spinach, fish, bananas( B6)
Green leafy vegetables, citrus juice, legumes, tofu, tomato juice ( B9)
Milk, fish, fortified breakfast cereal, eggs, shellfish ( B12)
Immune-boosting nutrients Vitamin D3 (Calcitriol)- the active form of vitamin D helps to protect the lungs from infection by stimulating antimicrobial peptides in epithelial cells (i.e. cells lining the
respiratory tract), stimulate tight junction in the gastrointestinal tract.
Excellent sources of vitamin D include:
● wild-caught fish such as salmon
● fatty fish
● pastured eggs
● beef liver
● cod liver oil