Nutrition performs an important role in the good functioning of our immune system. Certain micronutrients such as copper, zinc, iron, selenium, vitamins A, C, E, B6, B12, or folic acid contribute to having strong defenses.

A varied and well-balanced diet, and vegetable food predominance —such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts— can provide us with enough nutrient amounts and with phytochemicals with antioxidant properties.

  • Vitamins C (citrus fruits, strawberry, kiwi, pepper and tomato), A (carrot, parsley and apricot, containing beta-carotene, the precursor of this vitamin) and E (wheat germ, nuts and eggs), for their antioxidant action, help to protect airway cells against damages produced by free radicals from environmental pollutants. 
  • Group B vitamins, mainly found in wholegrain flour, brewer’s yeast and nuts, are also necessary for immune system proper functioning.
  • Zinc, copper and selenium are essential micronutrients for immune system normal functioning and development. Moreover, selenium is a powerful antioxidant. The best zinc food sources are crustaceans, mollusks and legumes. Copper is found in wholegrain cereals, legumes, nuts, liver, crustaceans and mollusks. On the other hand, selenium is mainly found in entrails, fish, meat, eggs, cereals and seeds.
  • Garlic and onion contain sulfur compounds that improve defenses. They also have antiviral, antibacterial and expectorant effect.
  • Some vegetables from cruciferous family: Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and radish… contain sulfur compounds (thiocyanates, isothiocyanates, indoles, sulforaphane) that, among other health effects, enhance immune system functioning.
  • Essential omega-3 fatty acids (chia, nuts, flax seeds or seaweed) and proteins (legumes, fish and eggs), are also required for a suitable response of the immune system.
  • Probiotics and prebiotics contribute to maintaining intestinal flora in good conditions, which is necessary for it to develop its functions: protective effect (it inhibits damaging germ development and produces antimicrobial substances) or immune system stimulant, among others. We can find them, in yogurts and other fermented dairy products.
  • Liquid sufficient intake maintains respiratory mucosa hydrated, protects it against infections, and helps to dissolve mucus.

What kind of food should we avoid?

It is convenient to avoid dairy products and carbohydrate excessive intake, mainly refined products (bread, pasta, candies and flour) which not only enhances mucus formation but also reduces immune capacity. In the same way, it is highly recommended not to take food rich in saturated fats and sugars. In addition, it is important to reduce salt intake, as well as to avoid alcoholic, carbonated and stimulant beverages.

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