10 Nutrition Tips to Boost Your Immune System During Quarantine and Help Fight COVID-19
by Emma Prince Fisher; Graphics by Britt Lowe
COVID-19 is scary and it’s changing our world in a multitude of ways. If you’re like us, you’re checking the CDC website every day to see what new warnings have been issued and/or if there are any updated tips to protect yourself and your loved ones from catching the virus. A lot of it can feel overwhelming and out of our control. But there is something we can do to help protect our bodies -- healthy eating.
It seems so simple, but nutrition is extremely important to both your physical and mental health. Combined with healthy sleep habits and exercise, it can not only boost your immune system but also improve your mood and energy level. Healthy nutrition also reduces anxiety and depression, which is important to note because both mental health issues have skyrocketed in recent months.
Try adding the healthy foods and supplements in this article into your diet, and feel the difference for yourself. For best results, combine these with an already well-balanced diet with all essential food groups represented and any less healthy food eliminated or at the very least, in moderation.
Foods to Help Your Immune System
1. Eat Your Fruit and Veggies
Apples, berries, tomatoes, celeries, and onions all fight inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s cry for help. It helps your body kill off invaders and protects you from infection. It’s also beneficial for self-healing. However, too much inflammation caused by unhealthy foods in your diet can limit the body’s ability to fight off these invaders. It can also lead to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity, all of which can put you at higher risk for more serious coronavirus symptoms.
2. Revive Your Love of Fermented Foods
Sauerkraut, yogurt, and kombucha all have probiotics (good bacteria) that help the immune system. They also reduce gas, bloating and diarrhea. A recent study supports the theory that these foods correlate with lower mortality rates.
3. Hydration is Your Friend
Drinking water helps your body naturally remove toxins and carries oxygen to your entire body. Recommended daily intake is 8 glasses of water, so make sure to hydrate. That’s half of a gallon every day. We suggest filling a half-gallon jug and marking off 8 lines. Then make sure to drink the water throughout the day one line at a time.
4. Omega, Man!
Specifically, Omega-3 is your friend. Salmon, walnuts, and chia seeds have omega-3 fatty acids which also reduce inflammation. They are especially important because they are used in new cell construction as building blocks for cell walls.
Foods to Avoid
5. Take a Hard Pass on Processed Foods
Salty, processed foods can limit your body’s ability to fight infectious diseases. As per the WHO Europe: “Consider rinsing canned foods such as vegetables and beans, to remove some of the excess sodium. In many countries, 50–75% of the salt intake comes from the foods we eat, rather than what we add ourselves. Given that you might be consuming enough salt already, avoid adding extra salt when cooking and to your meals at the table.”
6. Say No to the Sweet Tooth
Sugar is okay in moderation, but too much could weaken your immune system. In fact, research is currently in place that backs up the hypothesis that blood sugar levels may influence vulnerability to coronavirus.
7. Get the Skinny on High-Fat Foods
The microbes in your gut do not like a lot of red meat or fatty foods. As per Medical News Today: “People with obesity have more angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE-2), the membrane-bound enzyme that the virus uses to gain entry to cells.” Leafy greens, fiber, and nutrient-dense foods are easier to break down and a much safer option.
While dietary supplements are not meant to treat or prevent COVID-19, they may have effects in boosting your immune system to help fight infections. Consult your pharmacist or healthcare provider before taking any, especially when combining or substituting them with other foods or medicines. The best way to get these nutrients is through food.
8. What You Vitamin C Is What You Get
Taking vitamin C boosts your immunity. Vitamin C helps encourage the production of white blood cells, which protect the body against infection. Foods high in vitamin C include guavas, bell peppers, kiwifruit, strawberries, oranges, papayas, broccoli, tomatoes, kale, and snow peas.
9. Get Some Vitamin D
“Several groups of researchers from different countries have found that the sickest patients often have the lowest levels of vitamin D, and that countries with higher death rates had larger numbers of people with vitamin D deficiency than countries with lower death rates." For more Vitamin D, drink low-fat milk, fortified milk-alternatives, egg yolks, mushrooms, and salmon.
10. Think Zinc
Zinc helps fight infections by boosting the production of antibodies. Antibodies then help fight infections. Foods high in zinc include legumes, nuts, squash, as well as pumpkin, squash, and hemp seeds.
Stay Healthy However You Can
None of these foods or supplements will cure COVID-19. But making this a lifestyle change to your diet and getting the right nutrients into your body, before you have to fight off an infection, gets your body in pristine working order and in a better position to heal quicker if you do get sick. And put on that mask!
Do you have any other suggestions on staying healthy while in quarantine? Share your thoughts and suggestions with us. We’d also love to try some of your recipes including the ingredients in this article. Stay healthy. Looking for something else to keep you occupied during quarantine? How about pontificating on 10 Reasons Why Progressives Should Vote for Joe Biden?