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Immunity-Boosting Foods

Updated: Mar 12

I wrote in my previous blog about things you can do to boost your immunity. In this blog post I focus on vitamins and minerals that are especially important for supporting your immune system. Make sure that you cover these in your daily menu.


Immunity-boosting foods

Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid)

It works to improve everything from your skin health to immune function. Vitamin C protects the health of your heart, repairs and restores tissues in your body, reduces risk for gout, helps to boost the absorption of other nutrients (such as iron) in the body.


Present in:

  • Black Currants

  • Red Peppers

  • Kiwis

  • Guavas

  • Green Bell Peppers

  • Oranges

  • Strawberries

  • Papayas

  • Broccoli

  • Kale

  • Parsley

  • Pineapple

  • Brussels Sprouts

  • Cauliflower

  • Mango

  • Lemon

  • Grapefruit

  • Honeydew melon

  • Peas

  • Tomatoes


Keep in mind:

It’s best to consume foods high in vitamin C raw whenever possible. Cooking methods like boiling, simmering, sautéing, stir-frying and poaching can result in significant nutrient losses in foods containing vitamin C.


Zinc

Zinc is a trace mineral that is essential for many enzymatic reactions in your body. It's important for cell division and acts as an antioxidant. It fights free radical damage, slows down the ageing process, boosts eye health, promotes muscle repair and growth, helps with healing wounds, enhances your immune function and balances hormones. Consume 2-3 servings of zinc containing foods per day. Make sure you soak the nuts, seeds and legumes and cook well before consuming them due to phytates, as these inhibit zinc absorption.


Present in:

  • Lamb

  • Pumpkin Seeds

  • Hemp Seeds

  • Grass-Fed Beef

  • Chickpeas

  • Lentils

  • Cocoa Powder

  • Cashew nuts

  • Kefir or Yoghurt

  • Ricotta Cheese

  • Mushrooms

  • Spinach

  • Avocado

  • Chicken

  • Almonds


Iron

Iron is a trace mineral present in every living cell in your body. It's a main component in hemoglobin (part of red blood cell carrying oxygen to the tissues and myoglobin (part of muscle cells holding the oxygen). Iron is important for red blood cell production to prevent anemia, energy levels, for good brain function as it carries oxygen to your brain and also for development in children. Iron is also important for properly digesting and absorbing other important nutrients from the food you eat, and it helps to bring adequate amount of oxygen to damaged areas of your body, which include cells, organs and tissues.


Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies present in people. It's important to consume iron-reach foods on a regular basis. Daily recommendation for iron consumption varies based on age, where pregnant and breastfeeding women need the most.


Present in:

  • Spirulina (8mg for 28g), which is half from the daily recommendation

  • Chicken liver and beef liver

  • Grass-fed beef

  • Instant oatmeal

  • Oysters

  • Octopus

  • Mussels

  • Dark chocolate

  • Sardines

  • White beans

  • Black beans

  • Lentils

  • Kidney beans

  • Spinach

  • Sesame seeds


Some foods help to increase the absorption of iron, when consumed together with iron-reach food. These are: citrus fruits, apricots, beets, beet greens, collard greens, red grapes, oranges, peaches, prunes, red peppers, sweet potatoes.


Vitamin E

Vitamin E has strong antioxidant properties as well as it protects your cells against damage. It helps to prevent chronic diseases, reduces blood clotting, is important for healthy skin, hair growth and healthy vision. Vitamin E is abundant in the foods, so deficiency is rare, but none-the-less it's important that you focus on consuming foods rich in Vitamin E.


Present in:

  • Sunflower Seeds

  • Almonds

  • Hazelnuts

  • Cooked Spinach

  • Avocado

  • Cooked Turnip Greens

  • Cooked Butternut Squash

  • Pine nuts

  • Olive oil

  • Mango

  • Cooked Sweet Potato

  • Cooked Tomatoes

  • Salmon

  • Butternut Squash


Selenium

Selenium is a trace mineral, which means we need to get enough of it from our daily diet. Selenium has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects- it's required for the creation of glutathione, which is considered to be your body's master antioxidants. Selenium rich foods help with live function and detoxification as well as thyroid and hormonal health.


Present in:

  • Brazil nuts- it's said it's enough to consume 2 brazil nuts a day to get the recommended daily amount. Please remember to soak them before consuming.

  • Salmon

  • Tuna (limit the consumption due to high mercury levels)

  • Turkey

  • Chicken

  • Mushrooms

  • Halibut

  • Eggs

  • Sardines

  • Sunflower Seeds

  • Grass-fed Beef

  • Oats

  • Beef Liver


Vitamin D3

It's important to supplement with vitamin D3 as most of us are deficient in vitamin D. Deficiency of this vitamin can increase the risk of infection. Vitamin D help to transport calcium from your intestines as it digests into the bloodstream. When supplementing with D3, it's recommended to use it together with vitamin K2. Vitamin K helps to take then the calcium from the bloodstream and deposit into bones and teeth. So these two vitamins work hand-in-hand.


Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a soluble vitamin important for healthy vision and skin. It's also important for the development of specific immune cells to fight infections and inflammation.


Present in:

  • Butternut Squash

  • Sweet Potato

  • Kale

  • Carrots

  • Beef Liver

  • Spinach

  • Dried Apricots

  • Broccoli

  • Butter

  • Egg Yolks


Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 plays a role in more than 100 different reactions in your body. It's needed to help to make amino acids, the building blocks for hundreds of cellular functions and proteins. It also helps to form hemoglobin and neurotransmitters and regulation of blood glycose. Vitamin B6 helps to improve the immune function by fighting off the foreign invaders in your body.


Present in:

  • Turkey Breast

  • Grass-Fed Beef

  • Pistachios

  • Tuna

  • Pinto Beans

  • Avocado

  • Chicken Breast

  • Blackstrap Molasses

  • Sunflower Seeds

  • Sesame Seeds


Omega- 3

Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, helping lowering instances of allergies and upper respiratory infections, fighting depression and anxiety, improving eye health, supporting bone and joint health and also heart health.


Present in:

  • Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies)

  • Oysters

  • Caviar

  • Seaweed

  • Chia seeds

  • Hemp seeds

  • Flax seeds

  • Walnuts

  • Soybeans


Quercetin

Quercetin is an antioxidant that helps to neutralise free radicals and therefore reduce their damage to the body. It also helps protect against viral illnesses, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. Quercetin ahelps to stabilise the cells that release histamine in the body, thus helping against allergic reactions.


Present in:

  • Raw onion

  • Apples

  • Red grapes

  • Kale

  • Capers

  • Spinach

  • Watercress

  • Cherries

  • Berries

  • Broccoli

  • Tomatoes

  • Asparagus

  • Green tea

  • Black tea

  • Chilli peppers


Fermented foods and drinks

They support healthy gut microbiome. And as 70% of our immune system is in our guts, it's important to consume on a regular basis fermented foods and drinks. Your skin health and brain health are also directly linked to the condition of your gut.


Present in:

  • Kefir

  • Yoghurt

  • Kombucha

  • Kvass

  • Sauerkraut

  • Kimchi

  • Pickled vegetables

  • Miso

  • Tempeh




There are other additional foods and supplements that benefit the immune system:



If you are looking for support improving your diet and health, please do contact me for health and nutrition coaching at info@katrinpeo.com.

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