Eating to Enhance Immunity

By Janet Aumann

Ah-h-h-chew! ‘Tis the season for allergies, colds, and the flu; therefore, time to give our immune systems a boost!

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Super foods come to the rescue with the “ACE team”; vitamins A, C, and E, in addition to selenium and zinc. These nutrients help support our immune systems. They are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially those with hues of orange, yellow, purple, red, and blue. Eat them raw or lightly steamed, as over cooking can destroy some of those nutrients. Vitamins, water, phytonutrients, and dietary fiber all work together, so it’s best to obtain them from food rather than just relying on vitamin and mineral supplements.

Good sources of these nutrients are found in:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin
  • Butternut squash
  • Apricots
  • Cantaloupe
  • Papaya
  • Oranges
  • Mangoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Berries
  • All color of peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Spinach
  • Nuts, especially Brazil nuts for the selenium
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Red meat
  • Oysters
  • Poultry
  • Tuna
  • Whole grains
  • Dairy products

Men and women 19 years and older can meet their vitamin A needs with a small baked sweet baked potato or ½ cup of carrots. An orange can provide daily vitamin C needs. Vitamin E needs can be met with 1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds or 2 tablespoons of Almonds. Selenium can be met with two eggs, tuna fish, or one tablespoon of Brazil nuts. For Zinc, sprinkle a ½ cup of wheat germ on cereal, on a salad, or into a smoothie. Have 1-2 tablespoons of cashews, almonds, or Brazil nuts. Oysters or crab are another good source with a typical portion of 3.5 ounces.