5 ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS TO KEEP YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM STRONG
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash
Article by Sally Shi-po POON (Registered Dietitian)
Lately, I have received many inquiries about food and nutrition related to the COVID-19/ Coronavirus pandemic. Put simply, there is no specific food or supplement will prevent you from catching COVID-19. Good personal hygiene practice, such as washing hands frequently and wearing surgical masks, remains one of the means of avoiding infection. In addition, the local government has urged the public to go out less and reduce social gatherings at this stage.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system strong and healthy. This can be achieved through regular exercise, adequate rest and a balanced diet. There are many nutrients that are involved with the normal functioning of the immune system such as these:
Vitamin A is essential for normal vision and immune function. It also helps the lungs and other organs function properly. Food sources of vitamin A include liver, spinach, sweet potato, squash, carrots, cantaloupe, apricots, and mangos. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin so it is better absorbed when you eat it with healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C plays a key role in immune function. Consuming five varied servings of fruits and vegetables a day can help you achieve recommended amounts of vitamin C. Food sources of vitamin C include guava, kiwifruits, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes.
3. Vitamin E
Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and our body needs vitamin E to maintain its immune system healthy. Vegetable oils (such as wheat germ, sunflower, and corn oils), nuts (like almonds and peanuts), seeds (such as sunflower seeds and sesame seeds), and avocado are excellent sources of vitamin E.
Zinc plays an important role in immune function. Older people who have low levels of zinc might have a higher risk of getting pneumonia. Zinc is found in many foods and you can get recommended amounts of zinc by eating a variety of foods including oysters, crab, lobster, beef, pork, chicken, baked beans, cashews, pumpkin seeds, oatmeal, yogurt, and cheese.
Iron deficiency anaemia can impair immune function and make you less able to fight off germs and infections. You can get recommended amounts of iron by eating a variety of foods including red meat, seafood, poultry, iron-fortified breakfast cereals, lentils and legumes, spinach, nuts, and raisins. Your body absorbs iron from plant-based sources better when you eat it with foods that contain vitamin C, such as oranges, kiwifruit, and tomatoes.