With worries of coronavirus, I thought it would be a good time to talk about the role nutrition can play in building immunity. While proper nutrition will not cure any cold/flu, making sure your immune system has everything it needs to fight illness, mitigate symptoms, and decrease the risk of getting sick in the first place is essential.
Research shows that people who are deficient in one or more nutrients are generally more susceptible to infection, and these infections can be more severe and last longer. Help your immune system out during this time by making sure these 5 nutrients are included in your diet
recommended intake: 8-11 mg
Zinc is an important nutrient for immune function and wound healing. This nutrient helps prevent excess inflammation and has been shown to fend off bacteria and viruses. Meat, shellfish, legumes, nuts/seeds, and whole grains are all good sources of zinc.
recommended intake: 0.8-1g protein/kg of weight
Protein is the building blocks of our cells, tissues, and antibodies that fight disease, so getting enough of this nutrient is essential for a properly functioning immune system. If you aren’t getting enough protein in your diet, you’ll manufacture less white blood cells to combat antigens. Focus on high protein foods such as meat, fish, legumes, edamame, tofu, and dairy products to add more protein to your meals
Recommended intake: 65-90 mg (upper limit: 2,000 mg)
Vitamin C is one of the most widely used supplements when it comes to preventing colds, but it’s important to get this nutrient through food when possible, as getting too much Vitamin C from megadoses has been shown to have adverse side effects. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and plays an important role in building tissues, collagen, and in proper functioning of immune cells. Citrus, bell peppers, broccoli, canteloupe, papaya, and kale are all great high Vitamin C foods
Recommended daily intake: 700-900 mcg (upper limit: 3,000 mcg)
Vitamin A plays a crucial role in proper T cell function, which is a type of white blood cell that protects the body from pathogens. This nutrient also protects again infection by keeping skin, tissue, intestines and the respiratory system healthy. Eating vitamin A-rich foods like sweet potato, mango, carrot, spinach, cantaloupe, and tuna
recommended intake: 15 mg (upper limit 1,100 mg)
As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin E fights free radicals and reduce oxidative stress to give the immune system more bandwidth to tackle infections and pathogens. Eating foods such as sunflower seeds, peanut butter, avocado, butternut squash, and almonds
And remember, mental and emotional health is just as important to pay attention to during this time. Are you finding yourself becoming anxious and overwhelmed? It may be time to step away from the news, social media, and any other person or thing adding to these feelings. With all this info being thrown our way, now more than ever is a time to prioritize ourselves so we can have the bandwidth to help others. Take some deep breaths, find a grounding practice like meditation or journaling, and remind yourself you’re doing the best you can.