How to boost your immune system

Staying healthy is top of mind for everyone right now. That’s why it’s important to follow the most-current CDC guidelines, wash your hands properly and practice social distancing. In addition, eating right, getting enough sleep, exercising, and managing stress are more important than ever.

While there have been no studies done on foods that fight coronavirus specifically, there is a large body of research that shows the important role food plays in boosting the immune system.

Eat healthy, nutrient-rich foods to boost your immune system.

According to the USDA, “foods in nutrient dense forms contain essential vitamins and minerals and also dietary fiber and other naturally occurring substances that may have positive health effects.” There’s a clear link between food and health, so what nutrients should you be focusing on and what foods should you be eating?

Vitamin A
Vitamin A is important for normal vision, the immune system and reproduction. It also helps the lungs function properly. The most common type of vitamin A is from beta carotene found in green, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables. The other type, preformed vitamin A, is found in meat, poultry, fish and dairy products.
Try eating: carrots, cantaloupe, apricots, mangoes, spinach, broccoli, salmon, liver, dairy.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C , also called ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant that helps protect the body from free radicals. It also helps the immune system work properly.
Try eating: citrus fruits, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, tomatoes, red peppers, green peppers, cauliflower, baked potatoes.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps maintain strong bones and it helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses. Unfortunately, very few foods naturally have vitamin D so most food is fortified. Carefully read labels to find how much vitamin D fortified foods like cereal and milk actually contain.
Try eating: fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel which are among the best sources; and beef liver, mushrooms and egg yolks which offer small amounts.

Zinc
Zinc helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses. It also helps wounds heal.
Try eating: oysters (best source); red meat, poultry, seafood such as crab and lobsters (next best sources); and beans, nuts, whole grains, dairy products.

Protein
Protein is a key building block for immune cells and antibodies, and it plays a vital role in helping the immune system work. Protein can come from animal or plant sources.
Try eating: fish, poultry, beef, milk, nuts, beans, lentils.

What about dietary supplements? Can they help?

It’s always best to get nutrients directly from a natural food source. However, if you’re having a hard time getting all you need from your diet, you may consider a dietary supplement. Before you start taking any over-the-counter supplement, talk with your doctor to make sure it won’t react with any prescription medications you’re taking.

Medline atHome carries a full assortment of vitamins and supplements including:


Resources:
CDC, “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) How to Protect Yourself & Others”
Accessed on April 14, 2020

USDA, “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020”
Accessed on April 14, 2020

NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, “Vitamin A Fact Sheet for Consumers”
Accessed on April 14, 2020

NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, “Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Consumers”
Accessed on April 14, 2020

NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, “Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Consumers”
Accessed on April 14, 2020

NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, “Zinc Fact Sheet for Consumers”
Accessed on April 14, 2020

NBCI, “Effect of dietary protein and amino acids on immune function.”
Accessed on April 14, 2020

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