As a food co-op, the health and wellbeing of our community is our top priority. We receive questions daily about vitamins and supplements, which are wonderful additions to a diverse diet of healthful foods. But a good immune system starts with a healthy diet. Like any other system, your immune system is complex and requires balance to thrive.That said, there is no diet that can prevent you from becoming sick. But eating a variety of healthy foods is the best way to secure overall health. The confusion of the past weeks has upset many of our regular patterns, and amidst all this stress and confusion it is more important than ever to maintain a balanced diet consisting of whole foods packed with nutrients.

We may not be nutritionists or physicians, but as a supplier of healthful foods, we like to think that we know a thing or two about what’s good for our wellbeing. So here are some tips on how to best support your immune system health. 

Vitamin C Rich Foods

We would be remiss to make a list such as this and not mention the holy grail of cold and flu season. We’ve all been advised by a well-meaning friend or relative to consume extra vitamin C when there is a nasty bug going around. And while this vitamin isn’t the magical cure-all that many would have us to believe it is, it has been shown to play a role in improving immune system health. Research has shown that eating 200mg daily of this vitamin is most effective, as any greater amount cannot be properly absorbed. Foods that are high in vitamin C are citrus fruits, bell pepper, cauliflower, broccoli, and kale. Vitamin is absorbed best by the body when paired with iron. So you want to stack supplements or foods containing each of them.  

Foods with Vitamin E 

Much like vitamin C vitamin E has been linked with greater immune system health. This vitamin has been shown by research to be a powerful antioxidant that can help modulate the functioning of the immune system. You can get your daily dose of this vitamin by adding sunflower seeds or almonds to your meals and snacks. While these two are the best sources of vitamin E it can also be found in spinach, peanuts, avocado, and many other foods. Vitamin E is also present in many cooking oils such as safflower oil and wheat germ oil. The best way to get enough of this vitamin is to eat a well-balanced diet full of healthy fats, experts warn against overdoing it with supplementation for this one. 

Sources of Selenium

Studies have linked a lack of selenium with a delayed immune response. This often-overlooked mineral can be found in Brazil nuts and seafood. Brazil nuts are an easy addition to a morning bowl of oatmeal or can be chopped up and used as a garnish on a salad. Selenium is often included in multivitamins or can be found isolated as a supplement. All forms of this mineral are shown to be well absorbed by the body. 

There are many more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants linked to greater immune system health, but we thought that we’d keep it at three just to get you started. Make sure to check out our Recipes page, which we are constantly updating with healthful recipes!