Your immune system is like that friend you have that is just there, hanging out, chilling and being cool until someone threatens you — then they are ready to attack. Unless they are inebriated, then there is no telling what they will do, or when. That would be like an autoimmune disease/disorder.
I will admit, I am not the best with analogies.
Also, that pretty much describes me as a friend.
In all seriousness, healthy immune systems are something that some people take for granted. When it functions properly, our immune system seeks out threats such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites and triggers an immune response to fight off the invaders and destroy them.
Keeping your immune system running at tip-top shape is important to make sure that your body is ready and in fighting shape!
I’ve put together a shortlist of some of the most important nutrients to help keep your immune system boosted and running optimally. I’ve added some examples of foods that are good sources of these nutrients.
Vitamin C is an important nutrient needed for tissue and bone growth and repair. Unfortunately, the human body doesn’t create any. Studies have shown that Vitamin C can help boost the immune system and ward off viruses such as the common cold. It is best to get this vitamin from your foods. Fruits and vegetables are usually the best sources. Vitamin C is also essential for the body to be able to absorb Iron.
Light and heat can destroy Vitamin C in foods, so consuming fresh and uncooked sources is best.
Food Sources of Vitamin C
- Citrus fruits
- Brussels Sprouts
- Leafy Greens
Vitamin D is needed in the body for calcium and phosphorous absorption and regulation. Sun exposure is one of the easiest, efficient, and most reliable ways to get this vitamin. By exposing the hands, arms, legs, and face to sunlight two or three times a week for about a quarter of the time that it would take for you to get a sunburn will allow the skin enough time to produce Vitamin D. There is not a definite set amount of time (eg 17 minutes) as it will vary according to age, skin type, location, time of year and time of day. Older people have been found to have less receptors for Vitamin D in their skin. Darker skin tends to absorb less Vitamin D due to evolutionary traits. Being low in Vitamin D can compromise the immune system and also cause fatigue.
Vitamin D deficiency is really common. It has been suggested that Canadians are at risk for year round deficiency. Anyone living in northern latitudes or are darker skin may be deficient and it may be worth having your physician test your Vitamin D levels.
Natural and Food Sources of Vitamin D
- Sun – with caution
- Fatty fish
- Egg yolk
- Vitamin D Fortified foods
Zinc in an essential trace mineral element. The body only needs a small amount of it, and it doesn’t store it. Zinc has shown to be effective against viruses. It usually lessens the symptoms of the common cold. Zinc helps the body activate white blood cells and is needed for wound healing.
Food Sources of Zinc
- Whole grains
Selenium, a mineral found in the soil, water and some foods. It is needed in body to ensure that many of the bodily processes are carried out correctly. Selenium increases the actions of antioxidants in the body and helps to protect the cells. Most of the selenium that we get is from food, and it vary based on where the food originates. A selenium deficiency can result in an under active thyroid and high blood pressure during pregnancy.
- Whole grains
- Brazil Nuts
The best way to stay healthy is to eat a well-balanced diet and to incorporate some exercise for musculoskeletal and cardio health.
The key is to try and maintain good health, not just try to fix things once you’re sick. If you can’t get all of your nutrients from food, talk to your i-health care provider about adding in a vitamin or a multi-vitamin.
Don’t forget about sleep!!
Not just any sleep, but a good restorative sleep with help your body be in the right condition to help fight off invaders like viruses and bacteria.
Stress will also take a toll on your immune system too. Check out my post for five of the best foods that can help improve and boost your mood.
Who am I to offer advice?
I am a certified NESTA Lifestyle and Weigh Management Nutritional Specialist. I have also worked in the natural health and supplement industry for over a decade. All of my free time was spent reading and learning about nutrition in hopes of keeping myself, family, and customers as healthy as possible.
Still, all of this is simply advice and presented for educational purposes. I am simply sharing information. Talk to your physician or medical professional before making any changes or starting a new program or supplement. I am not here to diagnose. prevent, or treat any disease or illness. I am simply offering advice from a nutritional standpoint.