Nourishing your immune system is a key part of a healthy lifestyle. (Photo credit: US News)
It is essential to stay at your healthiest during busy times. The month of December is filled with holiday plans, finals, and work. Keeping the immune system healthy throughout this time is needed so you don’t miss out on things going on and to help perform the best on your tests.
There are different ways to support the immune system. Keep in mind that, according to Harvard Health, boosting the immune system is quite complicated. There are a lot of cells in the immune system and knowing what cells to target and “boost” to help immunity isn’t well known. However, there are still ways to nourish the immune system.
- Eat vitamin C-rich food such as spinach, kale, bell peppers, and citrus fruits. Vitamin C may prevent infections and is a powerful antioxidant.
- Vitamin E can also help fight infections similarly to vitamin C. Vitamin E is in high-fat plant foods. Almonds and peanut butter are popular items containing vitamin E.
- Eating vitamin A-rich foods can help fight infections and is in foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, and dark leafy greens.
- Zinc is used in the body to produce new immune system cells, so having enough zinc in the body is important. Oysters, chickpeas, and crab all contain zinc. Mayo Clinic has found some research that zinc may help to shorten the length of a cold.
- Vitamin D is also significant support to the immune system. You get vitamin D from the sun as well as salmon, tuna, and sardines. This vitamin, found by Harvard Health, assists in the production of microbe-fighting proteins. People that reported having low levels of this vitamin had colds and coughs more often. Make sure to keep vitamin D levels up in the winter because levels drop in most people due to the sun not being out.
- Elderberry is thought to help treat the cold and flu. According to Cleveland Clinic, they contain high levels of antioxidants and have vitamin C, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, fiber, and vitamin A which may reduce the length of the cold and flu.
It really is vital to eat a well-balanced diet containing all the above nutrients. It is best to get all nutrients from food alone rather than supplementing, but they may be needed for some individuals.