Start your new year on a strong note by making a New Year’s resolution to get better immunity. Good nutrition is important to support a healthy immune system. There is a strong correlation between poor nutritional status and compromised immunity. By boosting your immunity, you can benefit from better health. Whether you’re an adult aiming for optimal health or a parent looking to strengthen your child’s immunity, including essential nutrients in your daily diet is key.
To help you achieve a better immune system, Dr. Ganesh Kadhe, Director of Medical and Scientific Affairs, Abbott’s Nutrition Business shares with IANSLife the key nutrients and their sources that can keep you strong:
Adult nutrition for enhanced immunity
Proteins: They act as basic building blocks for every cell in the body, contributing to the development of important components such as muscles, bones, hormones and antibodies. It plays an important role in strengthening the immune system by supporting antibody production and providing essential amino acids as fuel for immune cells. Eggs stand out as an excellent protein source. Still, a variety of foods, including chickpeas, cottage cheese, quinoa, Greek yogurt, peanuts, and almonds, serve as important contributors to protein intake.
Vitamin A: It helps in regulating the immune system. “Known as an anti-infective vitamin, this nutrient keeps your skin, mouth, stomach and lungs healthy so they can fight off infections. It’s also important for sharp eyesight. Consume it with some fat for better absorption. Sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots and spinach Vegetables are rich in vitamin A.
Vitamin C: It helps the body build healthy skin and connective tissue, which prevents the entry of foreign microbes. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from damage. It helps protect against anemia by helping us absorb more iron from plant foods. Oranges are best known as a source of vitamin C. However, some foods rich in vitamin C are kiwi, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower and red peppers.
Vitamin E: It acts as an antioxidant, protecting cell membranes from damage caused by free radicals. Healthy cell membranes help keep out foreign microbes and support a healthy immune response. Vitamin E is a common nutrient found in most foods. Cooking oils, seeds and nuts are exceptionally rich sources.
Vitamin D: It is a multitasking nutrient that helps activate immune cells and regulate their function. Vitamin D helps our body absorb calcium and promotes a strong immune system. Some foods are naturally rich in vitamin D3, such as fatty fish and fish liver oil, egg yolks, orange juice and cheese.
Zinc: It is required for cellular reproduction, which is important in the synthesis of new immune system cells. Zinc is important for proper growth and development, especially during childhood and adolescence. For vegetarians, meat, especially red meat, is an excellent source of zinc. For vegetarians, foods like chickpeas, lentils, and beans contain ample amounts of zinc. Seeds can be a healthy addition to your diet.
Baby nutrition for strong immunity
Protein-packed foods: Babies, during their formative years, benefit from protein-rich foods for growth and a resilient immune system. Include sources like lean meats, dairy products, eggs, legumes and nuts in their diet.
Colorful fruits and vegetables: Introduce a variety of fruits and vegetables to provide essential vitamins and minerals. Brightly colored fruits such as berries, carrots and leafy greens are not only visually appealing but also packed with nutrients.
For calcium and vitamin D growth: Ensure adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D for good bone health and overall growth. Include dairy products, fortified cereals and foods rich in vitamin D for children.
Fiber for gut health: Ensure a balanced diet with fiber-rich foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. A healthy gut contributes to a strong immune system.