Hippocrates said, “Let thy medicine be thy food”, and that sentiment has never been more relevant than now. As citizens stock up on groceries in preparation for social distancing or even sheltering-in-place, it’s useful to know what kinds of food pack a punch in terms of boosting the immune system and promoting optimal health.
As with any diet, the nutritional choices you make right now should focus on an abundance of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants while committing to healthy protein sources. Remember that certain micronutrients prepare you to fight infection: iron, zinc and vitamins E, D, C, B and A. As grocery lines grow and shelves go bare, it’s also important to factor in which foods are non-perishable and accessible. While it might be tempting to comfort yourself through carbloading or sugar-rushing, these choices won’t serve you in terms of physical strength and vitality.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of foods that will support your immune system and overall health in the wake of Covid-19.
1) Vitamins A and C
Egg yolks, seeds, oily fish, tofu, cheese and seeds are all rich in Vitamin A. This vitamin is responsible for supporting the cell structure in your respiratory tract and gut, making it an essential defense against Covid-19, which affects the respiratory system. Vitamin A also aids in the production of antibodies – an important line of defense against infection. Vitamin C can be found in oranges, sun-dried tomatoes, green peppers, brussels sprouts and kale. You can opt for dried fruit and still see the benefits. Pick up some dried apricots, prunes, raisins or dates to
avoid vitamin C deficiency and oxidative stress.
As always, iron plays an essential role. Spinach, shellfish, broccoli, turkey and red meat are all tremendous sources of iron. Non-perishable items that boast a healthy dose of iron include: quinoa, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, and legumes. Iron facilitates the destruction of pathogens by helping your immune cells recognize and eliminate them.
These compounds support immune system functionality and regulate inflammation. Some antioxidant-rich foods are: Blueberries, beets, flaxseed, green tea, ginger and turmeric. Many of these items can be added to your existing meal to boost its immunity-supporting properties.
Your immune system relies on protein, and protein-deficiency will leave you exhausted and weak. There are plenty of non-perishable protein sources to keep you in tip-top shape: canned beans (including chickpeas and lentils), pasta, and canned fish such as tuna or salmon are all viable options and they store well.
Putting together a Covid-19 diet is all about implementing the same strategies found in many other antioxidant-packed, vitamin-rich diets while being mindful about which foods have a respectable shelf-life. As always, you’ll want to steer clear of the usual dietary suspects: ultra-processed foods, junk food, added sugar, and highly salted or fried foods.
While we don’t yet have a treatment for Covid-19, there are proven steps you can take to keep your immune system – and your entire body – highly functional and healthful. In additional to choosing a vitamin & mineral-rich diet, experts suggest finding creative ways to incorporate exercise into your day (even if you’re house-bound), utilizing mindfulness techniques to maintain a sense of calm, and staying connected with others, even if only through social media. Adopting these practices and committing to a healthy diet will help you maintain holistic wellness in the age of Covid-19.