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The role of nutrition in strengthening the immune system

The immune system is our body’s defense system, which “cleanses” and fights foreign bodies. In the case of an infection, this is the system that acts to eliminate it.

Although scientific information in this area is scarce, good nutrition and good hydration are known to contribute to an optimized immune system.  That said, it is possible to confirm that those following a healthy, complete, varied and balanced diet have a better nutritional status and therefore have a stronger immune system.

In order to guarantee the normal functioning of the immune system, it is necessary to consume nutrients, such as:

Vitamin D

Adequate intake of vitamin D helps to maintain / strengthen the body’s defense against infection, promoting innate immunity.

Foods rich in Vitamin D: Safio, Sardines, Trout, Corvina, etc.



Zinc has a potentiating effect on defense-related immune responses.The effect on infection has been investigated and it has been established  that children and the elderly are at high risk of zinc deficiency , which is associated with decreased immune function, contributing to increased infection mortality in these populations.

 Foods rich in zinc: oyster, beef, pine nuts, soybeans, etc.


Vitamin A

Participates in the elimination of foreign bodies thus helps the efficiency of the immune system.

Foods rich in Vitamin A: Liver, Carrot, Eel, Sweet Potato, etc.


Vitamin E

Deficiency of this vitamin can compromise several aspects of the immune response. Vitamin E, when supplemented, contributes positively to immune function.

Foods rich in Vitamin E: sunflower oil, almond, hazelnut, olive oil, etc.



Probiotics have been shown to increase the host’s resistance to infection.

The effects of probiotics are related to their ability to strengthen the intestinal barrier, maintain normal permeability, and compete with pathogenic microorganisms in the intestine for nutrients.

Probióticos: Lactobacillus ( L. ), Bifidobacterium ( B. ) e Streptococcus ( S. ). Lactobacillus e Bifidobacterium.


Good Practices

There are other practices that play a very important role in keeping our immune system strong, such as:

  • Consume fruits and vegetables regularly
  • Avoid daily stress
  • Stay hydrated
  • Practice regular physical activity
  • Have a good sleep quality

So, eat healthy food, exercise regularly, take all necessary hygiene precautions, avoid feeling too stressed or anxious so you get a good night’s sleep.  Your immune system will be stronger and better prepared to eliminate any infections.

Note: claims regarding vitamins are those permitted by the Serviço Nacional de Saúde


The information included in this article concerns the authors opinion only.

About Ângela Ferreira

Ângela Ferreira
Ângela Ferreira is a nutritionist. She has a degree in Nutrition Sciences and she is doing a Master's degree in Consumer Sciences and Nutrition. She currently works in Sports Nutrition and Clinic Nutrition. Her goal is to actively participate in changing the population's eating habits and to demonstrate that healthy eating can be simple and practical.

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