Following a healthy lifestyle can help keep your immune system strong. Eating a healthy diet can provide your body with essential nutrients and antioxidants and may boost your immunity.
A well-balanced diet that includes at least five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily can provide these key nutrients:
Vitamin C stimulates the formation of antibodies. Choose citrus fruits, such as oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit; bell peppers, broccoli, kiwi, strawberries, tomatoes and potatoes.
Zinc helps the immune system function properly. Top food sources of zinc are beef, pork, chicken, seafood, milk, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts.
Vitamin A helps regulate the immune system and protect against infections. Include foods red/orange in color like sweet potatoes, carrots, and red bell peppers. It can also be found in green vegetables like broccoli and spinach.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that may help immune function. Good sources of Vitamin E are foods rich in heart healthy fats like almonds, peanuts and peanut butter, sunflower seeds, and vegetable oils such as sunflower and safflower.
Protein boosts the immune system, particularly with healing and recovery. Include protein sources with all meals, spread throughout the day. Protein sources include both animal-based options like meats, fish, poultry, dairy, and eggs as well as plant-based options like nuts, seeds, and beans.
When including these nutrients in your eating plan, remember to eat a variety of foods each day, choose minimally processed foods, and continue other good health habits such as proper hydration, regular exercise, and adequate sleep. A sample day that includes these immune-boosting nutrients may look like this:
- Breakfast: Oatmeal cooked with milk, topped with almonds and strawberries
- Lunch: Bean soup, cheese melted on a slice of whole grain bread, and orange slices
- Snack: Red bell pepper strips with hummus
- Dinner: Chicken breast, roasted sweet potatoes, and wilted spinach