Top Nutrients to Support Immune System Health
Although we use the term “winter” loosely here in warm and sunny Florida, it is still important to take extra care of our immune system in the cooler months.
Lack of vitamin D from sunlight along with holiday stress and overindulgence take a toll on our health and immune function this time of year. This combination can make anyone feel run down, and can negatively impact our immune system, making it more difficult for your body to defend against harmful intruders like the cold and flu.
Our immune system works to remove and neutralize viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, and other pathogens that can cause us harm. The question is, how do we support our immune system so that it can function optimally and best protect us?
The answer lies in our nutrition and lifestyle habits. This includes getting adequate sleep and physical activity, minimizing processed food and alcohol, avoiding tobacco, and managing stress.
As far as nutrition, here are 8 top nutrients to consider incorporating in your diet to support a health immune system:
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) - This nutrient is a great addition to your immune system support arsenal. NAC acts as a protective shield during cold and flu season, and helps the body break down excess mucus. NAC is also a precursor to the super antioxidant glutathione; together they support the body’s immune health and are involved in fighting cellular damage, detoxification, and other essential functions.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Research has found that omega-3 fatty acids may enhance the function of immune cells, as well as benefit brain and eye health, inflammation, autoimmune diseases, metabolic syndrome, depression, and anxiety.
Probiotics - Gut health is a vital part of immune function. It is estimated that 70-80% of our immune system is based in the gut wall, which means that cultivating a healthy microbiome should be a top priority when it comes to our health. Different strains of probiotics have different functions, many of which promote immune health. Certain probiotics have been found to help the body identify and target harmful pathogens, promote the production of natural antibodies, and support immune cells. Studies have also found that specific strains of probiotics are “effective for fighting the common cold and influenza-like respiratory infections, including Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus fermentum, and Lactobacillus paracasei.
B Vitamins - B vitamins work together to help boost the body’s immune system, as well as promote cell health and keep energy levels optimal.
Vitamin C - Research shows that vitamin C may help decrease the duration and symptoms of the common cold, respiratory infections, and bronchitis. Some delicious ways to get your vitamin C include kiwi, asparagus, lemons, strawberries, oranges, broccoli, and peppers.
Vitamin D - This is one of the most important immune system-strengthening nutrients. Vitamin D plays a vital role in protecting us against cold, flu, and respiratory tract infections. Sunlight and food sources are the best ways to get vitamin D, including red meat, egg yolks, oily fish, and liver. When sunlight and food sources aren’t enough, high quality supplements can make up the difference, especially in the winter. Vitamin E - Vitamin E plays a vital role in keeping the immune system strong against viruses and bacteria. It also impacts the production of immune cells and red blood cells as well as provides powerful antioxidant protection. Food sources of vitamin e include Atlantic salmon, avocado, rainbow trout, hazelnuts, and almonds. Trace Minerals - Copper, selenium, and zinc have been shown to be important to immune system functioning. In particular, zinc may help reduce the symptoms and duration of the common cold. Food sources of zinc include lean red meat, egg yolks, oysters, turkey, cashews, and almonds. Brazil nuts, pork, beef, turkey, chicken, fish, shellfish, and eggs are excellent sources of selenium. Bonus: Research has found that acupuncture increases the amount of your immune cells in the body. This includes red and white blood cells, and T-cells. Book an Orlando acupuncture appointment now!