By: Dana Schulz, ‘16, University Health Center Nutrition Peer Educator
It’s that time of year again. The semester is underway. Multiple tests, projects and quizzes, all scheduled in the same week, leaving you thinking your professors must be plotting against you. Late, sleepless nights full of studying and stress consume you, increasing your susceptibility to the cold or flu. Before you know it, you find yourself feeling rundown and stuck in bed with the onset of symptoms.
Don’t let this be you!
Take control of your semester and help to build your immune system by providing your body with the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to fight off sickness!
- Vitamin C helps to stimulate our immune system. It plays an important role in two different immune cells, T-cells and phagocytes. These cells accumulate vitamin C and use it to perform their specific tasks, including fighting off that runny nose! Wondering how to get adequate amounts of Vitamin C? It can be found in:
- Citrus Fruits- such as grapefruit, oranges, and cute clementines
- Bell Peppers- which come in a variety of colors and can add great flavor to your next stir fry
- Dark Leafy Greens- try replacing plain lettuce on your next sandwich
- Selenium plays a very important role in our body, as it protects our cells from undergoing oxidation, and supports a healthy immune system by fighting off infection and illness. Some great sources of selenium include:
- Zinc is a trace mineral that is necessary for a strong immune response. It helps the body to fight off bacteria and viruses that can make us sick. It also helps to transport Vitamin A, another important nutrient in immune response! Great sources of zinc that can be found right here on campus include:
- Legumes like beans, peas and lentils- chili is full of immune enhancing nutrients!
- Seafood- like a delicious Maryland crab cake!
- Yogurt can be found at most campus convenience shops
- Vitamin A has the star reputation of an anti-infective vitamin. This is because many of the body’s defense mechanisms that fight off infection depend on Vitamin A supply. When we don’t get enough, our body’s defenses are weakened, leaving us susceptible to infection. Not sure how to ensure you have enough Vitamin A? Include some of these foods in your diet:
- Carrots- dip into hummus for a sustaining snack
- Sweet Potatoes can be found in the dining hall at this time of the year!
- Spinach- add a handful to your salad
Bonus Tip! If you feel yourself getting sick, try drinking a hot cup of green tea. Not only will it warm you up, but it also offers immune support to help kick that cold in the butt!
As midterms approach, you may find yourself eating on the go a bit more than usual. Luckily, many of these important vitamins and minerals can be incorporated into nutrient rich snack recipes that work with your immune system to keep you healthy for all that studying
Remember, foods are best way to obtain all of these important vitamins and minerals. While supplements are on the market, they are not meant to replace nutrients that come from a healthy diet. Eating a diet with variety can help us get all the nutrients we need!
To learn more about arming yourself with immune system friendly foods, reserve your session with a Nutrition Coach today by calling 301-314-5664 or emailing UHC-Nutrition@umd.edu.