Believe it or not, choosing snacks rich in fruits and vegetables can keep you healthy by giving your immune system the boost it needs to build antibodies! Antibodies are protective proteins made by the immune system in response to antigens invading the body. Antigens come into the body and cause harm and sickness, the common cold virus is an example of antigens we often fight. The immune system needs the right kind of nutrients to help build antibodies for us to recover and fight off future illnesses.
Nutrients such as Vitamin C and E support the making of antibodies to fight against infection. Vitamin C is found in several food items, such as oranges and strawberries. Did you know that a half-cup of raw red pepper has all your vitamin C daily needs? You can also get enough vitamin E with just two ounces of almonds or one and a half-ounce of sunflower seeds.
Protein, vitamin A and zinc are also nutrients that help build up the immune function. Protein needs vary from person to person, but most people need between five to six ounces a day. One ounce of protein equals a quarter of cup cooked beans, one egg, one tablespoon of peanut butter or a half-ounce of nuts. Vitamin A is easily found in many fruits and vegetables, and a half-cup of raw carrots provides more than enough vitamin A for the day. You can also try a quarter cup of cooked spinach, a cup of raw spinach or a quarter cup of sweet potato to get the vitamin E you need.
Zinc is another important nutrient that is found in meats, nuts, seeds, dairy, eggs and whole grains. You can meet your daily zinc needs through two raw oysters; or pair one ounce of cashews with three and a half ounces cheddar cheese; and three tablespoons of hemp seeds!
Reaching your daily nutrient needs for the highest number of antibodies possible is doable! Keeping a variety of these foods in your kitchen will help you avoid getting stuck in a food rut. You are only one snack away from a stronger immune system.
For more information on how to strengthen your immune system with good nutrition, call Goshen Hospital Nutrition Therapy at (574) 364-2679. Nutrition Therapy works with patients across a range of dietary needs including weight management, diabetes, prediabetes, fatty liver disease/NASH, celiac disease and other disorders of the stomach and intestine, heart and vascular conditions, food allergies and eating disorders.