With the appearance of new viruses and new variants of existing ones, these days it is more important than ever to strengthen the immune system. Maintaining proper hydration, ensuring sufficient hours of quality sleep and physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week are some of the basic recommendations to achieve this.
One of the golden rules to have a strengthened immune system is to take care of your diet: you have to consume the necessary vitamins and minerals, which is achieved by following a balanced diet.
“Our organism is in charge of giving signals that something is wrong, that we should pay special attention and resume healthy habits that we had forgotten,” says Dr. Inés Abinader, clinical nutritionist.
Some signs that warn about a case of low defenses are greater susceptibility to infections, feeling fatigued more easily, blood abnormalities, being more frequent anemia, as well as digestive problems, including loss of appetite, diarrhea and cramping abdominal pains. So, what are the nutrients that should be consumed to raise them?
First of all, the doctor clarifies that it should be taken into account that not all nutrients influence the immune response. “There are nutrients that are decisive and limiting in a correct immune functioning and these are the so-called immunonutrients,” she says. Specifically, she explains that these are the nutrients considered essential to maintain the integrity and perfect functioning of the immune system.
Below, the expert cites a list of micronutrients, emphasizing the easily accessible foods in which they can be found:
Zinc: helps the immune system fight bacteria and viruses that enter the body, among other functions. It is found in red meats, poultry, seafood, such as crab and lobster, as well as beans, nuts (no more than a closed fistful per day), among others.
Vitamin D: it is essential for the immune system to fight bacteria and viruses that attack it, besides helping the body to absorb calcium. Where is it found? In fatty fish, such as tuna, salmon, tuna and sardines, as well as beef liver, egg yolk and some dairy products. Fish liver oils are among the best natural sources of vitamin D.
Omega 3: Eating a diet rich in fish and other seafood, especially fatty cold-water fish, such as salmon, tuna, herring, and sardines, helps supply the body with Omega 3. This type of fat is also found in nuts (be careful not to exceed a handful a day) and seeds such as flaxseed, chia seed, as well as in plant oils such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil and canola oil.
Folic acid: besides intervening in the immune system, it is also important to consume it early in the development of a pregnancy (at least six months before conception and during pregnancy). Folic acid is found in lentils, peanuts, chickpeas, broccoli, spinach, beef liver, sunflower seeds and lettuce.
Vitamin C: this vitamin is one of the most indicated against flu, thanks to its power to reduce the duration of this type of affection. In the body, it acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells against damage caused by free radicals. It is found in citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, melon, kiwi, as well as in other fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, baked potatoes, red and green peppers, tomatoes and others.
Iron: it is an essential mineral for the correct development and growth of the body. Lean meats, seafood and poultry are high in iron. It is also found in white, black and red beans, lentils, spinach, and green peas, as well as in nuts and some dried fruits such as raisins.
Selenium: this nutrient strengthens the immune system, preventing different diseases. It also acts against free radicals, acting as a powerful antioxidant. It is found in the following foods: pork kidney, veal, eggs, garlic, prickly pear, sardines, salmon, cod, shrimp, rice, wheat, especially whole wheat.
“With this list of foods, we can keep our immune system strengthened,” he says, emphasizing that we must remember that the basis of a good diet is to have variety, balance foods and eat them in moderation.