Nobody wants to get sick, NOBODY!! A worldwide pandemic made us dig a little deeper into how much we truly value life and do not want to get a virus of any kind. So, we strive for health and wellness and commit to making choices that will strengthen our bodies and improve our quality of life. One of the critical factors in fighting off illness and having a healthier lifestyle is getting plenty of vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients our bodies need to thrive, grow, function, and live long, healthy lives. You can get them through supplements, but you can also find them in fruits and vegetables. Which ones are the best? Let’s look into what nutrients we need the most to stay healthy and where to find them!
Vitamins And Minerals That Make Your Immune System Happy
Our immune systems are a masterful network of proteins and cells that join together to fight off and defend our bodies against our exposure to germs. Pretty crucial for our survival, so we want this army of “germ fighters” to have the best war strategy possible. Here are the essential vitamins and minerals to give our immune system victory and the body's immune response to be the best it can be:
Vitamin C - The most common vitamin known to fight off illness, vitamin C is essential and found in many sources, some you may not even be aware of.
- Bell Peppers
Vitamin A - Also known as an illness warrior, vitamin A comes in plant form and in dairy items and meats such as tuna.
- Sweet Potatoes
- Butternut Squash
- Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Vitamin E - Another potent antioxidant, vitamin E is also crucial for helping the body fight off illness. Vitamin E is also essential because it is a part of approximately 200 different biochemical reactions that happen in the body, all vital to how your immune system functions. Vitamin E comes in plant-based, high-fat foods:
- Peanuts/Peanut Butter
- Sunflower seeds
- Oils that come from safflower, sunflower, and soybeans
Vitamin D - Vitamin D may be most famous for the fact that your body absorbs it from sunlight. It is also one of the most vital nutrients the immune system needs to function correctly. It comes in the following sources:
- Milk, cereals, and orange juice that are fortified with vitamin D
Iron - Iron is vital to your body because it aids in carrying oxygen to the cells, which is vital to the processes of the immune system. Great food sources of iron are:
- Red meat
- Sardines (canned)
- Tuna (canned/light)
- Cereals that are fortified with iron
Folate/Folic Acid - Folate is a type of vitamin B that can be found in many foods. Folate is the natural substance, folic acid is its synthetic form. Folate assists your body by helping produce DNA, it helps the cells in your body to divide, and it also helps your body to produce genetic material. Folate/folic acid can be found in
- Beans and peas
- Beef liver
- Dark green leafy vegetables: mustard greens, spinach
- Brussels sprouts
- Bread fortified with folic acid
- Rice fortified with folic acid
- Pasta fortified with folic acid
- Cereal fortified with folic acid
Zinc - Zinc is an essential nutrient because it helps produce new cells in the immune system, known as cellular metabolism. It is found mostly in meats and in other products where it is fortified (added), like cereals, granola bars, oatmeal, etc. Zinc-rich foods are:
- Beef roast, beef patty
- Pork loin, pork chop
- Chicken (more in dark meat), chicken breast
- Baked beans
- Pumpkin seeds
- Kidney Beans
Selenium - Selenium is a vital nutrient for the immune system because it helps to prevent infections. As important as it is for our bodies, it is also a risk to ingest too much selenium at once, so ask your doctor’s advice as to how much is too much for you. Selenium can be found in these foods and foods that are fortified with selenium:
- Brazil nuts - One brazil nut can equal 100% of your daily intake of selenium
- Beef steak, ground beef
- Cottage cheese
- Eggs - hard boiled
- Brown rice
Healthy Eating = Healthy You
It’s easy to say that eating healthy is awful because healthy food doesn’t taste good. With this LONG LIST of wonderful foods, I know there are a few things that you can find to enjoy. Healthy foods become tastier when we realize the potential they have to make us stronger, live longer, and equip our bodies to fight off illness. To live well is to eat well, and if it keeps me well and sickness free, sign me up for healthy eating!
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