Your immune system is your body’s natural defense against microorganisms like viruses and bacteria. When your immune system is working at its best, you are less likely to get sick, and when you do fall ill or suffer an injury, your body is better able to heal and recover efficiently. A healthy immune system starts with a well-balanced diet, making it essential that you understand the connection between food and immunity.
Nutrients and Your Immune System
Several essential vitamins and minerals play a role in proper immune system function, including:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin D
In addition to vitamins and minerals, some foods contain compounds called antioxidants. An antioxidant breaks down harmful free radical particles in the environment. Doing so helps to protect organ systems from oxidative stress and promotes healthy and strong immune system function.
What Are Superfoods?
The term superfood has become a real buzzword in recent years. Any food rich in beneficial nutrients may earn the title. Because there is no board or committee responsible for bestowing superfood, people can claim that anything is worthy of the status. This can make it challenging to determine what food is for immune system support. When you encounter online articles from unknown sources or social media posts touting immune-boosting superfoods, do some research on your own before buying into the hype.
The Best Foods for Immune System Support
To make adding immune system booster foods to your diet easier, here is a list of some of the best options backed by scientific evidence:
- Berries. Antioxidant compounds give berries their appealing colors. Elderberries stand out among other types of berries because they contain large amounts of anthocyanin antioxidants. Studies have found that elderberry benefits the immune system as well as promoting cardiovascular health.
- Fish and Shellfish. Foods that come from the sea are rich in immune-boosting vitamin E, zinc, selenium, and essential fatty acids. Fatty fish like tuna and salmon are also rich in vitamin D.
- Nuts and seeds. Because they are packed with zinc and selenium, nuts and seeds are a great snack to grab for immune system support. They can also provide a good amount of protein.
- Olives. Olives and olive oil contain immune-boosting vitamin E and many other beneficial phytonutrients. One compound called oleuropein is of particular interest for immune support. In scientific studies, the nutrient was shown to work with minerals to fight bacteria in the body. Oleuropein also works as an antioxidant.
Foods That May Weaken Immune System
Recognizing foods that boost your immune system isn’t enough. It would be best if you consumed nutrient-rich superfoods regularly to receive health benefits. For many people, this can prove difficult because of:
- Allergies. Food sensitivities and allergies can make it impossible to eat things like shellfish and nuts.
- Weight Control. Although rich in nutrients, foods like olives, nuts, and seeds contain a high number of calories per serving and should only be enjoyed in moderation.
- Lifestyle. A hectic schedule makes it hard to eat well-balanced meals.
- Health Concerns. Individuals with particular health concerns may already be deficient in immune system nutrients, making it more challenging to meet their nutritional requirements through diet alone.
Supplements to Bridge the Gap
If you’re among those who struggle to eat the right foods for immune system health, don’t despair. Dietary supplements can help to bridge the gap. An elderberry supplement or other immune support supplement can provide you with the nutrients that your diet lacks.
Choosing and Using a Supplement
The following tips can help ensure that you get the right supplement for your immune support goals and succeed using the product you choose.
- Compare Key Ingredient Concentration. When you’re looking for a supplement, keep in mind that not all products are the same. Comparing the number of milligrams of ingredients that a product contains won’t give you the full picture. What matters is the amount of the actual key nutrient found in the product. Look for credible supplements, meaning that they are guaranteed to contain a certain percentage of these nutrients. For example, Body Kitchen’s Nordic ElderShield has a ratio of 27:1, this provides 6X the amount of anthocyanins per serving.
- Do not go for a blend when it comes to immunity health. It is better to choose high-quality immunity supplements that list all ingredients separately to specify the MG dose of each nutrient. Body Kitchen’s Immune Shield gives you some of the beneficial nutrients we previously talked about (Zinc, Selenium, Olive Leaf Extract, and more).
- Follow the instructions. Always use supplements according to the labels printed on the packaging.
- Talk to your healthcare provider. Even though immune support supplements contain beneficial nutrients, they can pose a risk for side effects and drug interactions in some individuals. That’s why you must consult your doctor before adding a new supplement to your diet.
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