First of all everyone should be aware that consuming these foods will not prevent you from getting corona virus or any other sickness. However, our food choices and lifestyle factors do have a large impact on our immune function and therefore a diet that obtains all essential nutrients will allow the body to bounce back from sickness quicker than those with a poor diet. While it is also convenient to pop those lolly-tasting vitamin C tablets and other multivitamin supplements, your body absorbs nutrients a lot better when they come from a dietary source.
Many people turn to vitamin C when fighting a cold, but if you think citrus fruits are the best source of vitamin C then think again! Capsicums have twice the amount of vitamin C than citric fruits and also contain beta carotene which keeps your eyes and skin healthy.
Spinach also contains vitamin C and is packed with antioxidants and beta carotene. Antioxidants help protect your cells from the damaging effects of free radicals (air pollutants, chemicals, processed foods). Undamaged cells mean a fast working and effective immune system. Light cooking of spinach allows nutrients such as vitamin A to be released so the body can better absorb them.
Yogurt is a good source of probiotics – this can also be advertised on labels as “live cultures” or “acidophilus”. Probiotics in food serve to maintain a healthy flora of gut bacteria. If our gut flora is unbalanced, opportunistic pathogens can more easily enter the body. Yogurt is also a great source of calcium, protein, vitamin A, and zinc. Choose plain low fat yogurt and serve with nuts, seeds, berries, or fruit for a healthy snack.
Almonds along with other nuts contain valuable vitamin E and healthy fats. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that help the body fight off infection.
Eggs have gotten a bad rap due to concerns of cholesterol, but fear not, the egg yolk is a little powerhouse of nutrients. They contain the immune boosters zinc, selenium, and vitamin B-6. Vitamin B-6 is a crucial component for many chemical reactions that occur in the body and are also important for red blood cell formation. Eggs are one of the only foods that contain vitamin D which is critical for bone health, enhances immunity, and is a vitamin many of us can get low on in winter months due to less sun exposure. The egg white is a rich source of protein which is vital to build and repair body tissue and fight infections.
Legumes like chickpeas, lentils, and beans are great sources of zinc. Zinc plays an essential role in the immune system and zinc-deficient individuals experience increased susceptibility to infectious agents. Zinc is also very important for would healing.
- Green Tea
Green tea contains compounds called polyphenols which promote immunity through various pathways. However, be sure to wait 30 minutes either side of main meals to drink your tea, as polyphenols interfere with your body’s absorption of iron.
Garlic may boost the amount of virus-fighting T cells in your blood and the sulfur it contains can help your body absorb the immune boosting mineral zinc. Some evidence suggests garlic may also plays a role in reducing stress hormones.
Broccoli is a superfood! It contains high levels vitamins A, C, A, and K, along with a good profile of B vitamins, including folic acid, and the minerals iron, potassium, calcium, selenium. Research has also identified a special compound that occurs in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables called DIM which has potential immune enhancing effects.
No this does not give you a free pass to eat all the potato chips… When boiled, mashed with only a dash of milk, or roasted with just a drizzle of olive oil, potatoes retain their high nutritional value. They are high in the immune boosting vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium. Potatoes are also an excellent source of iron which is essential for maintaining healthy blood.
It is important to note that eating just one of these foods will not help you ward off the flu, cold, or other illness. Variety is key! You must get your recommended 5+ fruit and vegetables per day, every day, in order to get all the nutrients your body needs for it to work optimally.
Poor diet is also not the only factor contributing to poor immunity. Smoking, excess alcohol consumption, poor sleep, and lack of exercise also contribute to decreased immunity.
Finally, the most important thing you can do for your immune system and overall health is to wash your hands.