In light of today’s hot topic, COVID-19 (coronavirus) we read so many articles of what ‘not to do’; how to avoid the virus by ‘social distancing’ and quarantining yourself; and how to protect our loved ones by staying six feet away from each other. But another way we can protect ourselves is by building up our immune system so that our body has a chance to fight off illnesses.
Let’s get right to it. Here are some things you can do to give your immune system a fighting chance:
- Avoid smoking
- Exercise regularly (30 minutes a day)
- Get outside for sunlight and fresh air
- Avoid alcohol (or drink in moderation)
- Get enough sleep
- Minimize stress
- Practice ‘correct’ hand washing and good oral hygiene
- Fill your diet with immune boosting foods
- Supplement with immune boosting vitamins and minerals
Now some of you may think, ‘Is she kidding?’ ‘How am I supposed to do that? I’ve got my job (now I have to figure out how to work from home), the kids home 24/7 (and you expect me to give up alcohol?), the news constantly blaring in the background – which is constantly stressing me out – She must be crazy!’
But honestly, I’m not crazy. All these outside stressors are only adding coal to the fire. By focusing on our health and wellness is the best way for us to beat this thing. (Oh, and to self-quarantine!)
I am sure you have heard all of this before. But let’s just consider this a friendly reminder! Here are some of my top picks of nutritious food to include in your daily diet:
- Blueberries: contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin – an antioxidant that boosts your immune system. Research has found that people who eat foods rich in flavonoids were less likely to get an upper respiratory tract infection, as well as common cold, than those who did not. You can use fresh or frozen, whichever you can find.
- Dark chocolate: contains an antioxidant called theobromine – which boosts the immune system by protecting the cells from free radicals. (Remember to eat dark chocolate in moderation as it is high in calories and saturated fat.)
- Turmeric: contains an antioxidant called curcumin which has anti-inflammatory effects which can improve a person’s immune response.
- Fish oil: from salmon, tuna, or even supplements – these contain omega-3 fatty acids which also reduce inflammation.
- Broccoli: a great source of vitamin C that contains potent antioxidants like sulforaphane. Fresh or frozen work here too.
- Sweet Potatoes: are rich in beta carotene – another antioxidant and is a source of vitamin A.
- Spinach: contains several essential nutrients line flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
- Ginger: has anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties.
- Garlic: has long been a common home remedy for the prevention of colds and other illnesses.
- Green tea: (my personal fav) also contains flavonoids to strengthen the immune system.
- Yogurt or Kefir: contain live cultures of bacteria to improve your gut health which in turn may boost your immune system by fighting bacteria, reducing inflammation and increasing antioxidant activity.
- Sunflower seeds: are a great source of vitamin E (an antioxidant) which improves immune function by fighting off free radicals which can damage cells.
- Almonds: another source of vitamin E, along with manganese, magnesium and fiber.
- Oranges (citrus) or kiwifruit: are both an excellent source of vitamin C which assists in reducing the duration of the common cold and improve the function of your immune system.
- Red bell pepper: one more source of vitamin C.
I always suggest you do what you can to get your nutrients from food. But with everything that is going on, food may be difficult to come by and/or you may not want to go to the store as often. I get that. If you are not sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals from your diet, you can also supplement. Just make sure you consult a specialist and look for quality products.
Deanna Hoke is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She may be reached at 770-880-0181, firstname.lastname@example.org.