If there's anything that’s true for all seasons, it's that you can't be too careful when it comes to your health. Getting sick is more than just a temporary inconvenience. It’s something that can affect your productivity, and can in extreme cases even lead to death. A common illness like the flu can lead to up to 60,000 deaths in America per year, which is a pretty scary number. That’s why it’s so important to keep your immune system in top shape, so you can avoid catching it.
We've previously written about other ways to counteract influenza in our article ‘5 Ways to Keep the Flu at Bay'. While flu prevention is possible through a number of different methods, one of the best things you can do to fight it off is by strengthening your immune system.
To help you out, we've compiled a list of things you need to boost your immune system and keep influenza and other diseases at bay.
One of the best nutrients for boosting your immune system is zinc, which can be found throughout your body. Mayo Clinic outlines that zinc can strengthen your immune system, as well as speed up your wound healing and metabolism. The recommended daily amount of zinc is around 8 mg for adult women and 11 mg for adult men.
Generally, if you have a varied and balanced diet your body usually has enough zinc to function properly.
There's also evidence that taking zinc within 24 hours of exhibiting symptoms of a cold or flu is enough to shorten the duration of your illness, so be sure to stock up.
Of course, when it comes to immune boosters there's no single nutrient more popular than vitamin C. This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant that can strengthen your body's natural defenses. It helps supplement the functions of your immune system, making it better equipped to handle viruses.
The most popular sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits like oranges. That's not your only option, however — according to Brightcore food like wheatgrass can actually have higher vitamin C content than oranges.
It can also be found in vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and even peppers.
Another great vitamin for staving off illness is vitamin D. You've probably heard of vitamin D's mood-boosting effects, but did you know it's an important part of your body's immune system defense? Pharmacy Times says that vitamin D helps balance the immune system, keeping it functioning well enough to fight off the flu.
Unfortunately, our bodies don't produce vitamin D on their own, so we need to get it from external sources. Sunlight is a popular one, but you can also get vitamin D from fatty fish and other seafood, mushrooms, egg yolks, and fortified foods.
Finally, if you want to strengthen your immune response, you're going to need selenium. Selenium is an essential mineral that plays a vital, supporting role in your immune system, as well as in fertility and cognitive function.
Explaining the exact function of selenium in your body is a little complex, as it's responsible for the proper execution of many functions. Healthline reports that increased blood levels of selenium have been found to contribute to a stronger immune response. It also helps increase the action of antioxidants, which reduces oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.
There are several different nutrients and minerals that contribute to the strength of your immune system. The examples we've listed above are all necessary for a better immune response, but always make sure to check in with your doctor before taking additional supplements or medication.
Protecting against influenza and other viruses requires work and effort in all aspects of your life, not just your diet or nutrition, so be sure to practice proper hygiene and social distancing as well. Stay healthy!