What can you do for your Immune System?
Flu season is an especially important time to take care of our immune system to give us the strength to fight off microbes and germs. Surprisingly, a generous portion of our immune system lies in our gut. This gives special importance to how we choose to eat and its impact on our immune strength.
Vitamin A aids in the maturation and effectivity of different types of white blood cells which are the fighters of our immune system. It also aids in maintaining the integrity of our skin and other surface tissues (like the tissue that lines our respiratory system, gut, bladder and eyes). Breaks in these surface tissues are opportunities for germs to get in.
Foods high in vitamin A include dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, sweet potatoes, mangoes, papayas, liver, eggs and milk.
Studies have shown that getting sufficient Vitamin D regulates immune function and can decrease susceptibility to infections including those affecting the respiratory tract like the flu.
Foods rich in Vitamin D include salmon, yogurt, orange juice, almond and soy milk, raw chanterelle mushrooms, and eggs.
Vitamin E has been shown to increase the activity of multiple types of white blood cells and act as an antioxidant meaning it helps counteract damage caused as a side effect of our daily physiological processes. Furthermore, it plays a role in the formation of our red blood cells and aids cells in their communication with each other.
Foods rich in vitamin E include nuts (like almonds and peanuts), sunflower seeds, green leafy vegetables like spinach, and fortified breakfast cereals and juices.
Other than eating well, consuming hot drinks and beverages, frequent and thorough handwashing and getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night can help you avoid sickness or infection.
Gilbert C. (2013). What is vitamin A and why do we need it?. Community eye health, 26(84), 65.
Calder, P. (2013). Feeding the immune system. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 72(3), 299-309. doi:10.1017/S0029665113001286