Popular Foods to Strengthen Immunity After 50, Say Dietitians
Sign up for our newsletter to get daily recipes and food news in your inbox! Fall is here, which means apple pie, pumpkin carving, and as much pumpkin spice as we can possibly handle. Unfortunately, fall also means a drop in temperatures and a rise in the flu season. With this and a lingering pandemic, strengthening your immune system is more important now than ever.
This is especially true for those in their 50s, 60s, and 70s because your immune function becomes weaker as you age. And although your immunity may face more challenges with each passing year, your can help boost your immune system's strength with the food you eat.
We talked with a few expert dietitians to get their recommendations on immune-boosting foods, and here's what they said are the best foods to strengthen your immunity after 50. Then, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
"Maintaining a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut is believed to boost the immune system, and this is because about 70% of your body's immune system is in your gut," says Sheri Kasper RDN, LDN.
Yogurt is a great way of maintaining a healthy gut because it contains probiotics, which is known as "good bacteria."
Plus, according to Courtney D'Angelo MD, RD, yogurt also contains vitamin D, which is a necessary vitamin in boosting our immunity.
Find the best yogurt at the store with our guide of The Best & Worst Yogurts on Shelves in 2021-Ranked!
Spinach contains a ton of nutrients, which is why D'Angelo refers to it as a superfood.
"Spinach contains folate, which helps your body build new cells and replace DNA, and it also has a ton of fiber and antioxidants that can help your digestive system and overall health," says D'Angelo.
Red bell peppers
According to Kasper, red bell peppers are great for immunity because of their vitamin C and vitamin A content.
"Red bell peppers contain more vitamin C than oranges, and vitamin C encourages the production of the white blood cells that are responsible for defending the body against pathogens," says Kasper.
Vitamin A, which is helpful for supporting your immune system, can also be found in red bell peppers.
"Vitamin A is important in maintaining the natural mucus barriers located in the eyes, gut, and other parts of the body," says Kasper, "These barriers are designed to trap bacteria and are essential to optimal immunity."
Kasper also adds that it helps to choose red bell peppers specifically because they contain higher levels of vitamin C and A than green bell peppers.
Kasper recommends fatty fish, specifically farmed salmon, for an immunity boost over the age of 50 because of its vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid content.
"While vitamin D is often connected to bone health, emerging research out of Boston University suggests that it may also be vital to proper immune function," says Kasper.
She also mentions that although you can get vitamin D in other types of food, you can get up to a third of your daily vitamin D needs in one serving of farmed salmon!
Aside from vitamin D, omega-3's are also an important component in strengthening immunity.
"Omega-3 fatty acids, abundantly found in farmed salmon are highly anti-inflammatory and support the immune system by reducing chronic inflammation," says Kasper.
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