42 Foods to Help Boost Immune Systems in Seniors

As we enter harvest season and the beginning of flu season, it’s the perfect time to make sure we’re boosting our immune systems with healthy foods. Fresh ingredients can add delightful flavors to fall dishes as well as provide necessary nutrients to keep us healthier this season.  When you’re searching for foods that are good for your immune system, it helps to know what exactly that food does within your body to keep you healthy.

What is the Immune System?

A person’s immune system is composed of organs, cells, tissues and proteins within the body. These separate entities collaborate to fight off viruses, bacteria and infections by releasing antibodies.

Why Should Seniors Pay Attention to Their Immune System?

As we age, our inherent immune system becomes weaker. Seniors are more likely than younger adults to contract infectious diseases. Respiratory infections, like the flu, COVID-19, and pneumonia, are one of the leading causes of death in people over age 65. Luckily, certain substances, vitamins and minerals older adults can get through food to help boost their immune system. These lists aren’t meant to be exhaustive, but to provide a variety of suggestions of foods that are good for your immune system.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are molecules in food that help fight inflammation. They play an important role in fighting free radicals, which cause oxidation in cells. Vitamins C and E and flavonoids are examples of dietary antioxidants that can help boost your immune system.

Vitamin C

  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Grapefruit
  • Limes
  • Red and green peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Spinach

Vitamin E

  • Almonds
  • Broccoli
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Avocados
  • Leafy greens

Flavonoids

  • Tea: white, green, black
  • Broccoli
  • Blueberries
  • Apples
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Cranberries
  • Peaches
  • Tomatoes

Zinc

Zinc is a nutrient the body can’t store or make for itself. It must be absorbed regularly in food. It is vital for the function of immune cells.

  • Oysters
  • Wheat germ
  • Shellfish
  • Chicken
  • Beans
  • Nuts

Probiotics

Probiotics are good bacteria. Simply put, they help fight off bad bacteria in the gut, mouth, skin and lungs that may lead to illness.

  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Miso
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickles
  • Kimchi
  • Kefir

Vitamin A

Vitamin A offers several health benefits. It helps maintain the body’s natural mucous barriers in the eyes, gut and lungs to block infectious agents. This vitamin also plays an important role in the production of white blood cells, which help remove bacteria and other pathogens from the bloodstream.

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Winter squash
  • Eggs
  • Salmon
  • Tuna

Honey

Raw honey has unique antibacterial and antifungal properties. Hydrogen peroxide, an antiseptic, occurs naturally in honey. Generally speaking, the darker the honey, the stronger its antibacterial power.

The chefs at Sedgebrook source the freshest seasonal ingredients, including many foods to help boost the immune system, for their delicious dishes. And each meal is served with the friendliness of a professional hospitality team. If you’d like to find out about the top-quality dining experience, or any other aspect of our community, we invite you to contact us. A helpful member of our team would be happy to answer any questions.

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