Cold and flu season is coming and, while you may be stocking your grocery cart with tissues and antibacterial wipes, it’s time to add a few more nutrient-dense options that can support your immune system! Your immune system – comprised of various proteins, cells and organs – protects your body from germs, harmful substances and cell changes that can make you ill. Your immune system fights bacteria and viruses and removes them from your body.
It also recognizes and consequently neutralizes harmful substances from the environment and fights disease-causing changes in your body – such as cancer cells. Consuming a diet rich in vitamins and minerals along with focusing on your hydration can help support your immune system. Check out my top five ways to support your immune system this fall and try adding a few of these ideas to your cart next time you shop at Hy-Vee!
When you think of supporting your immune system, consuming more of this vitamin may come to mind first – vitamin C! While most people think of vitamin C in citrus fruit, it is present in a variety of foods. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that our body needs to obtain through food, and it acts as an antioxidant helping protect our cells from damage that can lead to inflammation or illness. Try snacking on red bell pepper strips or serve cooked broccoli or Brussels sprouts for dinner tonight.
The next nutrient to add to your diet is zinc. Zinc supports the growth and proper functioning of immune cells and also acts as an antioxidant, protecting our cells from damaging free radicals. Free radicals are formed when our bodies convert the food we eat into energy or can come from the environment such as exposure to UV rays or cigarette smoke. Serve lean beef at your next meal whether that be in tacos, chili, pasta sauce or burgers on the grill. Or enjoy a bowl of Hy-Vee Tasteeos (fortified with zinc) served with milk for your morning fuel!
Vitamin B6 is primarily found in protein sources within our diets such as beef, salmon and chicken. Try adding a vegetarian protein source of chickpeas to your favorite salad or enjoy vitamin B6 in your side dish of baked winter squash at your next family meal. Vitamin B6 plays a key role in the production of white blood cells – specifically T cells, which play a crucial role in our immune response by helping our body fight off infection.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that also acts as an antioxidant and supports our immune system. Vitamin E supports our immune system by helping T cells perform at their peak level! You can add more vitamin E to your diet by snacking on dry roasted sunflower seeds, almonds or peanuts. Or enjoy dark leafy greens such as spinach in your salad or wilted into your pasta sauce for an extra dose of vitamin E while sneaking in those veggie servings!
Last but not least: When it comes to supporting your immune system, consider your hydration status! Staying hydrated helps your body deliver critical nutrients to cells, keeps organs functioning properly, prevents constipation, helps you regulate body temperature, keeps joints lubricated and more! Dehydration can occur during illness – especially via excessive sweat, vomiting or diarrhea. It’s important to focus on your hydration in order to support your immune system function.
Consider adding electrolytes into your routine with Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier Sugar-Free! With three times the electrolytes of the leading sports drink and essential vitamins such as vitamin B3, B5, B6, B12 and C that support the immune system and energy production – it’s time to add it to your shopping cart. Best of all, it contains no artificial sweeteners and comes in three great flavors. Pick up a box in your Hy-Vee HealthMarket today!
Ready to learn more about how a Hy-Vee dietitian can help you? Follow your favorite Hy-Vee dietitians on Facebook and Instagram @HyVeeDietitians to learn more about our services as well as find upcoming classes and events.
This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.