We all know what it’s like to catch a cold, to feel lethargic and congested. But why is it that some people get sick more often than others? What can you do to better protect yourself? In today’s video, we’re going to talk about the best nutrients you can eat to give your immune system a much needed boost.
As we age, our immune system’s ability to ward off disease becomes reduced, which in turn can lead to more infections and more cancer. Plus, your gut health, exercise, sleep, psychological stress, and other factors can also affect how well your immune system functions.
In most cases, people get sick because of a lack of micronutrients in their diet, such as vitamins and minerals. There are many studies that show how deficiencies in zinc, selenium, iron, folate and vitamins A, B6, C, and E can weaken the immune system.
Make sure you watch this video until the end to learn about the bioactive compounds responsible for optimizing immunity in the gut, which is where 70 to 80% of all immune cells reside in the body.
So, if you’re ready let’s get into it.
As always, this video is educational and does not construe medical advice, we are not doctors.
Number 1 – Vitamin C
As you probably already know, vitamin C is well-known for its role in supporting the immune system. Many studies have shown that vitamin C can help people suffering from respiratory infections.
To support your immune system you should try to consume around 200 mg of vitamin C per day, which is the equivalent of eating five servings of fruits and vegetables.
A medium sized orange offers on average 70 mg of vitamin C. If you want a more keto friendly option, one medium raw bell pepper will give you 150 mg of vitamin C.
Number 2 – Vitamin E
Similar to vitamin C, vitamin E also plays an important part in supporting your immune system. This fat-soluble vitamin has been found to help increase the activity of white blood cells and support the body’s ability to protect itself from invading bacteria and viruses.
One ounce of sunflower seeds, or a quarter cup, contains about half of the daily recommended intake for vitamin E.
Number 3 – Vitamin A
Sweet potatoes and carrots are great sources of beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. Your immune system uses vitamin A to produce white blood cells, which fight bacteria and viruses.
Vitamin A has also been found to help form the mucous membranes that line the respiratory tract. This protective barrier helps keep germs out of the body.
One baked sweet potato delivers over 150% of your daily recommended intake for vitamin A and half a cup of raw carrots contains 51%.
Number 4 – Selenium
A deficiency in selenium has been shown in studies to delay immune response, while adequate amounts have been found to help boost immunity.
Selenium isn’t just a mineral that’s needed by your immune system, it’s also a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from oxidative stress, which can damage DNA.
Brazil nuts and sardines are great sources of selenium. Brazil nuts contain on average 96 microgram of selenium per nut. Just eating one Brazil nut is enough to meet your recommended daily intake of selenium, which is set at 55 microgram per day for adults.
Number 5 – Zinc
Zinc is a mineral that’s crucial for good health. It’s required for the functions of over 300 enzymes and involved in many important processes in your body including your immune system.
In fact, studies have found that low intake of zinc has been linked to lower production of certain immune cells. The daily recommended intake for men is 11 milligrams of zinc per day, while women need 8 milligrams.
Excellent sources of zinc include oysters, baked beans, pumpkin seeds, red meat, and poultry.
Number 6 – Curcumin
Curcumin is the key nutrient in turmeric that’s responsible for its many health benefits. While curcumin is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties it has also been found to boost immune cell activity and enhance antibody responses.
To get the most from your turmeric, make sure to combine it with black pepper and olive oil to enhance your body’s ability to absorb curcumin.
Number 7 – Melatonin
Melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone, plays a vital role in supporting your immune system.
When you sleep, you allow your body to repair and rebuild. During this time, the body is able to remove dead cells from the lymphatic system, which boosts the immune system.
Research shows that people who don’t get enough quality sleep are more likely to get sick. Some foods that are naturally high in melatonin include tart cherries, goji berries, milk, and eggs.
Number 8 – Omega-3s
Long chain omega-3 fatty acids may help to boost the immune system by enhancing the functioning of immune cells.
A study published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, found that DHA-enriched fish oil enhanced the activity of white blood cells known as B cell and antibody production. Foods rich in omega-3s include salmon, walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds.
Number 9 – Allicin
Allicin is a natural compound produced when garlic is crushed or chopped and it’s been found to reduce inflammation and offer antioxidant benefits.
In one study, 146 participants were randomly given either a placebo or a garlic supplement daily for 12 weeks during cold season. At the end of the experiment, individuals who were given garlic experienced significantly fewer colds compared to the placebo group, and also recovered faster if they did get infected.
Adding garlic to your diet is a simple, just add them to your cooked veggies, soup, or broth.
Number 10 – Probiotics
Many don’t know this but your gut actually contains 70 to 80 percent of your body’s immune cells. That’s why it’s important to eat plenty of foods rich in probiotics.
Probiotics are living microorganisms that are especially good for your digestive system and immune system. These beneficial bacteria release bioactive compounds that help optimize immunity in your gut.
Getting more probiotics into your diet is as simple as eating yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso soup, pickles, kimchi or kombucha.
Number 11 – Beta-Glucans
Did you know, the genetic composition of mushrooms is actually more similar to humans than plants. And even more surprising, mushrooms provide bioactive compounds that are particularly beneficial to your immune system.
These naturally occurring compounds are called beta-glucans and have been found in multiple studies to effectively stimulate the immune system to defend against bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic infections. Plus, beta-glucans have also been found to improve resistance against allergies.
In fact, one of the main reasons why so much attention has been devoted to beta-glucans in recent years is because they can up-regulate immune responses in cases of immune suppression while down-regulating overactive responses. In other words, beta-glucans can naturally help restore healthy immune balance.
Beta-glucans can be found in functional mushrooms, such as Reishi, Turkey Tail, Shiitake, and Maitake, as well as in oats, barley, yeast, and algae.
Number 12 – Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays an important role in promoting immune response. It has both anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties, which makes it vital for the activation of your immune system.
Research have found that vitamin D can help enhance immune cells, including T cells and macrophages, which protect your body against pathogens.
People with low levels of vitamin D have been associated with increased susceptibility to infection, disease, and immune-related disorders.
A deficiency in vitamin D has also been linked to decreased lung function, which may affect your body’s ability to fight respiratory infections.
Number 13 – Copper
Copper is an essential trace mineral that’s found in all body tissues and is involved in the production of red blood cells and the maintenance of nerve cells as well as the immune system.
Not getting enough copper in your diet can lead to neutropenia. This is a condition where you have abnormally low levels of neutrophils in your blood, which is a type of white blood cell. Neutrophils are important for fighting certain infections, especially those caused by bacteria.
The richest sources of dietary copper include shellfish, seeds, nuts, and organ meats.