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Food and immune system


The human body is constantly subject to external aggression. When we are confronted with viruses, bacteria or other microorganisms, our immune system acts to defend us. While there are no foods, nutrients, or supplements that by themselves will prevent us from getting sick, our diet does influence the immune system’s response, which can make a difference in how we experience and overcome illness. 

Some foods can be important in helping our immunity function properly and should be included daily in our diet, through the following food sources: 

– vitamin A: liver, egg, milk, carrots and spinach; 

– vitamin B6: chicken and turkey meat, chickpeas, tuna, bananas and potatoes; 

– vitamin B12: meat and fish in general, egg and cheese; 

– vitamin C: kiwi, orange, strawberries, red bell pepper, broccoli and cabbage; 

– vitamin D: milk, cheese, yogurt, salmon, tuna, codfish and egg; 

– folic acid: mushrooms, beans, lentils, broccoli, and tomatoes; 

– copper: liver and oleaginous fruits (cashew, almond and hazelnut); 

– iron: meat in general, beans, chickpeas and egg; 

– selenium: egg, oleaginous fruits (walnut, Brazil nut, almond), salmon, beef and beans; 

– zinc: beef, cheese, walnuts, beans, and oats. 

There are some food preparation and cooking techniques that can be adopted to facilitate food intake and digestion, such as grinding or shredding (for example, meat and fish), using chopped and strained legumes in soups, chopping oleaginous fruits into flour to add to yogurts, and cooking and shredding fruit whenever possible. 

Also remember that it is very important in your daily routine to practice regular physical activity and to drink 1.5L to 2L of water per day (equivalent to 8 glasses of water).


Bibliographic references: 

Portuguese Association of Nutritionists. (2015). Hidratação no ciclo de vida: hidratação na pessoa idosa. 

FCNAUP. Project Nutrition UP65. 

Programa Nacional para a Promoção da Alimentação Saudável e Direção Geral da Saúde (2020). Covid-19 and Nutrition. 

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