Foods for the immune system becomes increasingly interesting for us as we become more aware that certain diseases can be prevented with good nutrition. This only makes sense, since many of the healing therapy draw we against disease arise from natural sources. Of course, all the food we eat at once a living organism with complex systems that rival our own, so we’re not likely to exhaust all possible nutritional discoveries anytime soon
Fruits and vegetables
Vegetables and fruits are the most obvious source of the immune system increases nutrients. Familiar favorites for vitamin C are oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, kiwi and cantaloupe. Raw broccoli, cauliflower and peppers are also rich in vitamin C. Vitamin A is important for healthy skin and mucous membranes, which is the first defense against infection-is found in cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, broccoli, spinach and other dark green leaves. Legumes, sprouts, asparagus, spinach and leafy greens are also an important source of B vitamins, which support antibody formation and the basic immune system at the cellular level.
Sources of zinc
Dietary protein is an important source of vitamins B12 and B6, and zinc, which facilitates the function of white blood cells and skin healing. Plant protein foods such as beans, chickpeas, dairy products, pumpkin seeds, almonds and walnuts deliver a fair amount of zinc. Animal proteins, especially seafood and red meat, is a richer source of zinc. However, although dietary zinc is an essential mineral for a healthy immune system, too much zinc interfere with the absorption of other nutrients, so get just the right amount is important. The USRDA for zinc is 15 mg for men and 12 mg for women.
Certain foods are known for their phytochemicals, unnecessary nutrients that appear to counteract the effects of aging and disease. Shiitake and maitake mushrooms contain beta-glucan, a polysaccharide found that improves the function of white blood cells, and may help ward off cancer. Reishi mushroom contains ganodermic acids which also has antioxidant properties. Black and green teas contain polyphenols that helps to eliminate free radicals, which accelerate the aging process and its vulnerability to disease. Onions and garlic contain allylic sulfides, which helps the immune system fight bacteria and viruses, and can also neutralize carcinogen.
We have known for some time that salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel are good for your heart, but it turns out that they also good for the immune system. The Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health finds that omega-3 fatty acids, especially those found in fish oil, seems to tweak the immune system, benefiting from autoimmune and inflammatory disorders including arthritis, lupus and heart disease. Also, researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speculate that increased omega-3 fatty acids in the diet can help prevent rejection of transplanted organs because of unwanted immune response.
Many doctors recommend a daily multivitamin to keep your immune system healthy. A multivitamin helps prevent deficiency of vitamin A, C, E, B vitamins and essential minerals. But although much research has gone into the development of multivitamins, researchers are increasingly finding new beneficial substances in our food. By also eating a well balanced diet, including a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, your immune system will get the nutrients it needs, even before they have been “discovered.”