Have you been thinking about your immune system a bit more than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

While no particular food or diet can prevent or cure infectious diseases, your overall eating pattern can impact your immune system health, which in turn affects your body’s response to infection.

Various nutrients contribute to optimal immune function, but here are 4 of them and some of their food sources worth reiterating:

Protein – Dietary protein is important for a healthy immune system. It is made up of amino acids that play various roles in immune responses. Some good protein sources include lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, Greek yogurt, tofu, beans, and nuts.

Vitamin C – This antioxidant vitamin is well known as a key player in immune function. Besides citrus fruit, good sources include strawberries, red bell peppers, mangoes, tomatoes, and broccoli.

Vitamin D – Commonly referred to as the “sunshine” vitamin, it helps the immune system work properly. It can be made in the skin when exposed to sunlight. Few foods are good sources of vitamin D, but you can find it in egg yolks, fatty fish such as salmon and sardines, and fortified versions of milk, orange juice, and soy beverages.

Zinc – This mineral impacts various aspects of the immune system. It can be found in foods such as seafood, meat, yogurt, beans, and lentils.

Overall, these are some of the nutrients known to support the immune system. A well-balanced diet can ensure adequate intake of these and other essential nutrients, which act in concert to promote optimal immune function, and can help mitigate the effects of infection.

 

By: Tarini Bidaisee, BSc, BASc, MAN, RD