Recently, I’ve noticed an uptick in questions from clients wondering what foods to eat to help keep them from getting sick. It’s true that good nutrition is a key player in keeping your immune system as strong as possible. Who wouldn’t want that, especially in the midst of cold and flu season! Include the following nutrients in your eating plan to help protect yourself against infection and boost your immunity.

Protein is part of the body’s defense system. Choose a variety including seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and nuts.

Vitamin A keeps skin and tissues in your mouth, stomach, intestines and respiratory system healthy and strong. Find it in sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, red bell peppers, apricots, eggs, and foods labeled “vitamin-A fortified” like milk or cereal.

Vitamin C stimulates the formation of antibodies and boosts immunity. Good sources include citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, etc.), strawberries, tomato juice, and red bell pepper.

Vitamin E works as an antioxidant, neutralizes free radicals, and may improve immune function. Find it in sunflower seeds, almonds, vegetable oils (such as sunflower or safflower oil), hazelnuts, peanut butter, spinach, and fortified cereals.

Zinc helps the immune system work properly and may help wounds heal. It’s found in lean meat, poultry, seafood, milk, whole grain products, beans, and nuts.

Here’s to better immunity and less sickness this winter!

By: Katie Sonnek, RD, LN  – Ridge Athletic Clubs, Registered Dietitian