If you’re looking to maintain as healthy a body, the one thing that you cannot overlook is how immune health comes into play. Many people discount the fact that a weak immune system sets you up for disease state and frequent illnesses.
We live in a world where many of us are constantly seeking a “quick fix”. We need to know what will help us stop illness in its tracks and possibly prevent many conditions entirely.
The way to do that is by boosting your immune system. When your immune system is much stronger, it’s harder for things to take you down. You’ll have more resilience and therefore will fall ill less often and if you do, you’ll bounce back quicker.
If that’s something you’re interested in, learning how to boost your immune system should be a top priority.
Another thing that many do not realize is that much of your immune system is actually housed in your gut. So improving gut health is the very first step to a stronger immune system. This can be done by using a high-quality probiotic product such as P3-OM. Especially since probiotics play a key role in maintaining the right balance of bacteria. As most people aren’t taking in probiotics on a daily basis, supplementation is the next best approach.
Once you have those in place when it comes time to take a closer look at your diet plan and discover what changes you might make there you have better position yourself for maximum success.
The first place you should start is with increasing your vitamin C intake. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant in the body that can help to fend off free radical damage. Which then lowers your risk factor for aging and combating many diseases.
It also helps to boost your immune system, making it even more unlikely that you fall ill. If you do, it can help you recover quickly as well. This is a big reason why many people recommend loading up on vitamin C at the first sign of a common cold. By doing so, you ensure that you’re giving your body as many tools and resources to fight that cold.
So where can you find vitamin C? Let’s take a closer look so you aren’t left deficient any longer. The good news is that vitamin C is readily available, so if you’re eating a mixed diet there’s a good chance you already have some in the picture. It is a water-soluble vitamin however, meaning you do need to take it in daily or you may face deficiency. Any excess vitamin C leftover in the body at the end of the day will be excreted rather than stored.
Before we dive into the best sources, let’s look at the benefits you’ll receive from getting more into your day.
Improved Skin And Collagen Formation
If you feel as though your skin is a little lackluster lately, it might be time to look at your vitamin C intake. Vitamin C is important for keeping your skin glowing, healthy, and looking as young as possible.
In a research setting, researchers noted that when test subjects increased their intake of vitamin C in their diet plan, they experienced less overall skin dryness. There was also a lower incidence of wrinkles occurring as well1. If keeping yourself looking young is important, vitamin C is a must.
Many over the counter skin creams and washes come enriched with vitamin C. However, if you simply choose to take it in through your diet, you work on the body from the inside out, which is a much more effective approach.
Additionally, if you are someone who suffers from a skin burn, you might just find that applying a topical solution that contains vitamin C helps. It alleviates some of the pain associated with sunburns and may lower the sunburn cell formation by up to 60%.
While aloe vera gel is often associated with sunburn healing if you want to take the natural route, vitamin C should be considered as well2.
Enhanced Iron Absorption
Iron deficiency anemia is a serious condition that many people in our society are facing. When you suffer from anemia, you’ll experience symptoms such as:
· High rates of fatigue despite getting enough sleep at night
· Feeling a rapid heart rate, faster than normal especially during exercise
· Having trouble staying focused
· Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
· Suffering from insomnia
· Experiencing debilitating leg cramps
If you’re someone who isn’t eating red meat that often, it’s important that when you do, you make the most of it. This means using vitamin C to boost the absorption that you get. When subjects consume vitamin C with foods rich in iron, it makes their body better able to absorb that iron.
So consider serving some red bell peppers with your beef or having an orange for dessert.
Improved Heart Health
Research is now showing there may be a connection between heart health and vitamin C intake. Those who have higher overall vitamin C intake experience a 25% lower risk for developing heart disease than those who didn’t have comparable vitamin C intake3.
Those who weren’t eating enough vitamin C daily also noted they had higher overall triglyceride levels as well as bad LDL cholesterol. Both of which set you up for heart disease risk4.
By getting vitamin C in, you’re doing your part to promote a healthy heart. Keep in mind this isn’t the only dietary change you should make, but it is a major one.
Stronger Immune Health
Finally, as noted earlier, vitamin C will also help boost your immune system. By helping to ensure you feel strong on a day-to-day basis.
Every type of stressor you encounter daily can influence your immune health. Whether it’s physical stress or mental stress, it all adds up. If your immune system is weakened, this will invite illness into the picture.
The hard part about stress is that sometimes it’s happening and you don’t even realize it. So at the same time, your immune system is taking that beating already.
Now that you have a clear idea of the ways in which getting more vitamin C can benefit let’s take a look at where can you find the vitamin C you need.
Bet you thought the orange would be topping the list, didn’t you? Most people firmly believe that oranges are what helps provide the biggest benefit for vitamin C intake. The truth is however that there are many foods that come long before the orange.
Black currants are one of the most powerful foods for delivering a massive vitamin C punch, giving you 338% of your total daily value. While black currents are a little hard to come by, when you do find them in the supermarket, make sure that you take advantage and pick some up.
Can’t find them? Don’t fret. While it is great that they deliver so much vitamin C, remember that all you really need to do in meeting your total daily quota as excess vitamin C is removed from the body at the end of the day. There are many other foods that provide more than enough.
Which brings us to our next vitamin C rich food – red peppers. Bell peppers, in general, are excellent for delivering vitamin C so it doesn’t really matter if it’s red, yellow, or orange. They all will provide excellent benefits.
Bell peppers are also naturally sweet so an excellent way to bring flavor into your dishes without adding extra processed sugar.
Another fruit that comes in above oranges is kiwifruit. Per one cup serving, you’ll get 164 mg of vitamin C, which equates to around 273% of your total daily needs.
Kiwifruit is fun to eat and like most fruits, going to provide some much-needed fiber to your diet plan as well.
Finally, we come to the orange. Oranges provide 163% of your total vitamin C needs. So it’s a great way to ensure you aren’t falling deficient.
The nice thing about oranges is they are a ready-to-go snack. So they’re a perfect option for any time during the day.
At around 60-80 calories per orange, they can easily fit into just about any diet plan as well.
When fresh summer berries come around, you’ll want to ensure that you’re making good use of those in your meal plan. Berries are one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can consume, so don’t let them pass you by.
Strawberries rank in with just 50 calories per cup and will provide 149% of your total vitamin C needs.
Add strawberries over yogurt, serve with a healthy fruit dip, make into a smoothie, or just eat them as they are for a delicious sweet treat any time during the day.
The papaya is a fruit that most of us only eat when we go to Mexico, but is still available for much of the year in North America as well. Providing 144% of your total daily requirement for vitamin C, they make it easy to get your needs met.
What’s more, is that papayas are going to provide some digestive enzymes as well. So it could help with the breakdown of other foods you eat in a meal.
If you’re interested in boosting up your digestive enzymes to help improve your nutrition and eliminate gas, bloating and indigestion, you’ll want to consider the supplement MassZymes. It’s one of the most powerful digestive enzymes on the market today.
Broccoli is next up on the list of things to be adding to your diet if you want to improve your vitamin C status. If you can’t have fruit because you’re on a low carb diet, broccoli is a great substitution.
Broccoli also contains many powerful antioxidants that will help to fend off free radical damage and may also further help lower your risk for diseases including cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
Broccoli is also very high in dietary fiber content, which makes it excellent for helping to lower your cholesterol levels.
Per 1 cup serving, you’ll take in approximately 135% of your total daily value.
Another sweet treat if you can afford to have a bit of sugar in your diet is pineapple. This is another fruit that will supply you with a good dose of digestive enzymes. It can help you feel better after each meal that you eat.
Pineapples are delicious eaten on their own or could be added to fruit salad or smoothies as well. Many people choose other fruits over pineapple because it does take a little more effort to cut, but it’s well worth it. A perfectly fresh pineapple is also one of the most delicious fruits you can find.
Per one cup serving, you’ll get well over your recommended daily intake at 131%.
Another cruciferous vegetable that can help strengthen your immune system while lowering heart disease risk and promoting regular bowels is cauliflower.
This vegetable is also highly versatile and can be eaten raw, steamed, stir-fried, baked, or made into cauliflower rice. It is an excellent substitute for regular rice if you need a lower-carb, lower-calorie version.
Cauliflower will nearly meet your needs for the day, providing 77% of your total intake. Pair it with fruit and you’re set.
Finally, we come to the lemon. Lemons are a great food for not only getting a solid dose of vitamin C but also for ensuring that you’re balancing your pH levels as well. While lemons do seem very acidic, when they actually enter your body, they become alkaline, helping to improve your pH profile. Most of us are quite acidic on a day-to-day basis.
Because we’re consuming so much meat in our diet and without balance, we can go down a path to acidosis.
Lemons are also a natural anti-bacterial, so this combined with their high dose of vitamin C makes them ideal for fending off the common cold or flu.
So there you have some of the top foods to consider getting into your diet plan. If you eat just one of these foods every day, you will be doing very well in meeting your vitamin C requirements.
If you aren’t meeting your vitamin C requirements, you will likely start to notice signs of deficiency creeping on. These signs may not come on suddenly but will start to appear over time.
Some of these signs include things such as:
· Being easy to bruise
· Suffering from swollen gums
· Experiencing bleeding gums
· Having a slow wound that doesn’t heal
· Gingivitis and painful gums
· Dry, damaged hair
· Uneven complexion
· Frequent occurrence of nose bleeds
· A strong immune system therefore you may find yourself getting sick constantly.
· Swollen and painful joints
· Potentially a slowed metabolism, which can result in weight gain.
You likely won’t experience all of these issues and they may not even present themselves until you are at a much later phase of deficiency. But they are important to look out for nevertheless.
Vitamin C is an amazing micronutrient that you must be sure you’re paying close attention to. If you eat a mixed diet, you’re probably already getting enough in without too much care. But those who are severely restrictive on their diets, due to low-calorie eating or simply being a picky eater are at a greater risk of not getting enough.
Because vitamin C is primarily found in carb-based foods (fruits and vegetables), those following ketogenic diet plans should be especially careful to ensure they a getting enough.
- Cosgrove, Maeve C., et al. “Dietary nutrient intakes and skin-aging appearance among middle-aged American women.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 86.4 (2007): 1225-1231.
- Telang, Pumori Saokar. “Vitamin C in dermatology.” Indian Dermatology Online Journal 4.2 (2013): 143.
- Knekt, Paul, et al. “Antioxidant vitamins and coronary heart disease risk: a pooled analysis of 9 cohorts.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 80.6 (2004): 1508-1520.
- McRae, Marc P. “Vitamin C supplementation lowers serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides: a meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials.” Journal of chiropractic medicine 7.2 (2008): 48-58.