At Higher Risk for Infection? Try boosting your immune system

What can we do to support our immune system through our diet?

CHA nutritionist, Amy Eldridge, MS, RDN, LDN, answers a question from a CHA patient:

For those who have high risk conditions, like asthma…what can we do to support our immune system through our diet?

Antioxidants can help boost the immune system and protect healthy cells. But we should try to get antioxidants through food sources rather than taking supplements. The key is having a well-balanced diet - recommendations for most adults to try and have at least 1 1/2 cups of fruits and 2½ cups of vegetables daily.

  • Beta carotene - helps regulate our immune system and protect the respiratory, stomach, and intestinal systems from infections. Food sources: Sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, spinach, red bell peppers, apricots, mango, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, and winter squash
  • Vitamin C - a well-known antioxidant that helps protect our bodies from infection, cell damage, helps absorb iron, and helps the body produce collagen. Food sources: citrus fruits (including oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines), strawberries, sweet peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, and potatoes.
  • Vitamin D - helps our bodies maintain strong bones, the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, helps muscle function, and immune system. Food sources: fatty fish (salmon and mackerel), cheese, eggs, milk, and mushrooms (if grown under UV light).
  • Vitamin E - another type of antioxidant and may support immune function. Food sources: fortified cereals, seeds, almonds, vegetable oils (such as sunflower or safflower oil), hazelnuts, and peanut butter.
  • Zinc - assists with the function of our immune system and may help with wound healing. Food sources: beef, seafood, beans, seeds, nuts, tofu, whole grains

Be sure to speak with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian before taking any supplements.

Cambridge Health Alliance

Contributed By: Cambridge Health Alliance

Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health care system committed to serving all members of our communities. We have expertise in primary care, mental health and substance abuse, and caring for diverse and complex populations. CHA patients receive high quality care in convenient neighborhood locations, and have seamless access to advanced care through CHA’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. With over 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville Everett and Boston’s Metro North, CHA is working hard to offer the integrated services its communities need now, and in the future.