Food and Immune Function

Food is fuel, and what we eat has a big impact on how our immune system functions.  Sixty percent of the body’s immune system is located in our gut; therefore, it is imperative to maintain a healthy gut and support our body with the proper nutrients.  Probiotics or “good bacteria” have been shown to support digestion and have a positive impact on immune health. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids, mostly found in fish and fish oil, help support a healthy immune system. Other nutrients that play an important role are: zinc (shrimp, turkey), selenium (salmon, cod, pork), iron (beef), copper (oyster, crab), Vitamin A (carrots, spinach), Vitamin C (red peppers, strawberries), Vitamin E (almonds, peanuts), Vitamin B6 (tuna, bananas) and folic acid (green leafy vegetables).  Lastly, adequate protein is essential to a strong immune system, and people should consume high-quality proteins, such as fish, lean meat, and poultry, on a daily basis.  It is also important to avoid foods that make you more susceptible to illness and that damage the immune system. Food that should be avoided include, but are not limited to, added sugars, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium.

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