Now more than ever, it’s important for your immune system to stay in tip-top shape during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the best ways to stay healthy is by maintaining a nutritious diet. UC Davis Health registered dietitian Tiana Carey shares some foods that can help boost your immune system.
Vitamin A (Beta Carotene)
This vitamin assists with the health of your intestines and respiratory system. Vitamin A-rich foods include carrots, sweet potato, spinach, broccoli and red bell peppers.
Vitamin C helps stimulate the formation of antibodies. Citrus fruits, strawberries, red bell pepper and kiwi are all rich in vitamin C.
This nutrient promotes the neutralization of free radicals by working as an antioxidant. Foods full of vitamin E include vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and avocado.
There are many zinc-dependent enzymes in our body and deficiency has been linked with immune dysfunction. Zinc-rich foods include beans, seeds, nuts, meat, poultry and seafood.
Specific amino acids found in protein are essential for T-cell function, which are cells that protect the body against pathogens. Meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds all have lots of protein.
These nutrients have been shown to help your immune system work most efficiently and effectively, but too much of a good thing can be harmful. Eat these nutrients in moderation and don’t go overboard. If you eat too many carrots, you may just turn orange! As always with preventing the spread of illness, wash your hands frequently.
An Easy Immune Boosting Smoothie
Smoothies are on my weekly meal plan, even in cold weather. For me, they always feel more like a sweet treat than like the healthy meal they actually are. Bonus – your kids will love them, too! And, they have no idea how many super foods are hiding right there in plain sight.
The best part about a smoothie is how easy it is to swap in different ingredients. I prefer to use the ingredients on this list, but I’ll definitely still make myself a great smoothie even if I’m missing a few.
To make this healthy immunity boosting smoothie, you’ll need:
- a carrot
- a banana
- a clementine
- orange juice
- lemon juice
- plain yogurt
If you have a bit of a sweet tooth you can add an optional sweetener.
How to make a smoothie
1. Load: Add all of your ingredients to a high powered blender in the order they are listed above.
2. Blend: Process everything until it’s completely blended.
3. Test: Give it a little taste to test for sweetness. Adjust accordingly. If you’re looking for a thicker smoothie, blend in more ice to make it thicker.
4. Serve: Pour your immunity boosting smoothie into your favorite glass or tumbler, insert a steel straw and garnish with fresh orange wedges. Enjoy!
Depending on what you’re craving, your taste buds, and the fruit you use – this smoothie may be plenty sweet enough for you as is. If it’s not, you can add a natural sweetener into the mix like organic, raw honey. Another good option is pure maple syrup because it’s a great source of zinc and manganese which both work to strengthen your immune system.