Supporting your health through good nutrition, which includes a diet rich in vitamins A, D, C and E, is one of the best ways to keep your immune system strong.
The Key Immune System Players
Vitamin A is found in milk, fortified yogurt, eggs, orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes and autumn squash, and dark leafy green vegetables. These foods help the body identify and defend against unfriendly germs.
Vitamin D can be obtained from 15 minutes of natural sunlight. It is also found in fortified milk and yogurt, mushrooms and bony fish like salmon.
Vitamin C is found in an abundance of fruits and vegetables including oranges, pineapple, strawberries, red bell peppers and broccoli.
Vitamin E is found in cooking oils such as olive oil and canola oil, as well as nuts like peanuts and almonds, seeds and avocados.
There are some simple ways to make sure you are getting a variety of nutrients to support your immune system. Create healthy meals by choosing whole grains, eating a variety of high-quality proteins including 2-3 servings of low fat dairy, and remembering to “eat the rainbow” when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Try easy meals like Tomato Avocado Pasta Salad, Broccoli Cheddar Cups and Overnight Triple Berry Oatmeal.
While nutrition is a factor in supporting your immune health, other lifestyle factors can reduce your risk of getting sick. Staying physically active can help keep your body healthy. Whether it’s running, biking, swimming, weight training or yoga, the best exercise you can do is exercise that you enjoy! You can also reduce stress by getting adequate sleep, drinking enough water and paying attention to your mental health.
Contributor Rachel Green, dietetic intern The Ohio State University