Saarbrucken – What we eat and drink affects our immune cells. Even a slight deficiency of trace elements can weaken the efficiency of our immune system, explains nutritionist Christina Esser. But what vitamins and minerals can we use to boost it?
With zinc, for example, there is an answer. According to Esser, zinc has an antioxidant nature, so it intercepts harmful molecules in the body. “It protects us from diseases and strengthens our immune system.” It also has a positive effect on the maturation and number of certain immune cells.
The secret of chicken soup
Products containing zinc are, for example, meat, seafood and whole grain products, lists the lecturer at the German University of Prevention and Health Management in Saarbrücken. “By the way, zinc is one of the reasons good old chicken soup is such a treat when you have a cold.”
Vitamin C may be outdated as an immune booster, but that doesn’t make it any less important. “It also has an antioxidant effect and, by activating the scavenger cells of our immune system, improves resistance to disease,” says Esser. Peppers, rose hips, berries, citrus fruits, and Brussels sprouts can all score high in vitamin C.
Pepper and iron
According to the expert, iron is also important for the protective mechanisms of our body. A deficiency can lead to a decrease in the number of immune cells and antibodies. Iron of animal origin is better absorbed by the body.
“We have to help the iron a little bit from plant sources,” explains Esser. It is better absorbed in combination with vitamin C, for example from pepper. Foods high in iron include meat, fish, whole grains, and legumes.
According to Esser, vitamin D, selenium, vitamin A, phytochemicals, protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids are also important for protecting the body through their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. This sets you up for infections. Because thanks to a healthy diet, the body becomes more resistant and can better fight viruses.