Make healthy food choices and eat right to help strengthen your body’s immune system. The main tasks of the body’s immune system are: to fight disease-causing germs (pathogens) like bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi, and to remove them from the body, and to fight disease-causing changes in the body, such as cancer cells. The way your body fights an infection depends on your overall health. Regular exercise, sufficient sleep, low stress levels and a nutrient rich food helps increase your body’s capability of fighting a disease.
Choose to eat right
Some compounds have properties that help make your immune system strong and help your fight diseases. Here is a list of must-haves in your daily diet:
- Vitamins, Minerals, and Antioxidants: Studies have shown that fruits and vegetables provide nutrients—like beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E—that can boost immune function. Many of the vegetables, fruits, and other plant-based foods are also rich in antioxidants, they help reduce oxidative stress.
- Beta-Carotene: Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant that can reduce inflammation and boost immune function by increasing disease-fighting cells in the body. Excellent sources include sweet potatoes, carrots, and green leafy vegetables.
- Vitamin C and E: Vitamins C and E are antioxidants that help to destroy free radicals and support the body’s natural immune response. Sources of vitamin C include red peppers, oranges, strawberries, broccoli, mangoes, lemons, and other fruits and vegetables. Vitamin E sources include nuts, seeds, spinach.
- Vitamin D: Research shows vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk for viral infections, including respiratory tract infections, by reducing the production of pro-inflammatory compounds in the body. Food sources of vitamin D include fortified cereals and milk and dairy products.
- Zinc: Zinc is a mineral that can help boost white blood cells, which defend against invaders. Sources include nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, beans, and lentils.
Healthy eating tips
You may be eating the most nutritious diet but some dietary mistakes can weaken your immune system and have adverse effects on your health. Here are a few guidelines to follow to help preserve your immunity:
- Avoid eating processed foods
- Reduce sugar intake
- Choose plant-based, whole foods
- Say “No” to alcohol