Eating healthy anti-inflammatory foods may help with prevention of many diseases. If you are generally well due to a healthy lifestyle (including a diet made up of anti-inflammatory foods), your body could be better equipped to fend off coronavirus (COVID-19). Dr. Bernstein’s blog, March Madness: How to Reduce your Risk from the Coronavirus, provides an overview regarding the preparations we can take to reduce our risk of becoming ill.
In case you missed it, here is a snippet of Dr. Bernstein’s blog summary with my additional thoughts in green.
Stress negatively affects our immune systems by increasing cortisol levels. It’s hard to avoid stress while the news is on TV or streaming 24/7. So while you are home try a few stress reducing tricks. Meditate for 20 minutes, take a long walk, listen to relaxing music, do yoga, Tai Chi, gentle stretching, or breathing techniques. All of these can help if added to your daily routine.
Eat a healthy diet, especially avoiding sugars and carbs … Our tendency in tough times is to eat comfort foods to make us feel better. However, keep in mind the importance of food and health. There are 5 Essential Nutrients (see below) that you must remember to include in your diet to support your wellness. This is important now more than ever with the threat of COVID-19. Strengthening your immune system is essential.
Get More Sweat
Continue to exercise, though more on an individual basis avoiding group classes or crowded gyms. Structure an individualized exercise plan to include increasing your heart rate, walking, running, etc. Add lifting weights and relaxation techniques at the end of your workout.
Get More or Adequate Sleep
Sleep allows our immune systems to recover from our daily activities. Try for seven or more hours a night.
The 5 Essential Nutrients
Eating foods rich in the 5 Essential Nutrients may help build your immune system.
- Foods rich in Iron, Zinc and Selenium act as antioxidants for immune cell growth for your skin and mucous membranes and also reduces free radicals. Iron is found in legumes, whole grains, nuts, chicken, and fish. Zinc is found in dried beans, nuts (especially Brazil nuts), oysters and other seafood, meats, and chicken. Mushrooms are a good source of Selenium.
- Vitamin D is necessary for some immune cells, especially those that help destroy infection-causing pathogens. Foods rich in Vitamin D include eggs, fish, and alternative milks. Milk may also be fortified with Vitamin D. Vitamin D may also help to protect against respiratory infections. Go out in the sun for a few minutes each day to get even more excellent Vitamin D.
- Vitamins C and E are found in many tasty foods. Those rich in Vitamin C are citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and limes. Berries, kiwifruit, broccoli, tomatoes, and capsicum (red peppers) also contain a lot of Vitamin C. Foods rich in Vitamin E include nuts, leafy green vegetables, and vegetable oils.
- B Vitamins such as B-12, B-9 and B-6 are very important for your body’s response to harmful cells or pathogens. B vitamins are abundant in leafy green vegetables, legumes, nuts, eggs, chicken, and fish.
- Vitamin A is very important for the cells in your skin, respiratory tract, and gut. This vitamin forms a first-line barrier of defense to fight infection. It also helps to build antibodies that neutralize infection-causing pathogens. You can find Vitamin A in tofu, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes. It is also found in oily fish, egg yolks, and cheese. Beta-carotene, which is in yellow and orange vegetables like pumpkin and carrots, can convert to Vitamin A in your body. This is an added benefit to your immune system.
It is essential to get the right nutrients from the food we eat. By adding more foods full of Vitamins A, Bs, C, D, and E, you will continue to support your immune system every single day. Now more than ever, it’s important to take a look at what you are eating. Make sure your diet is packed with foods that contain these micronutrients to maintain good health and strengthen your immune system.
My April recipes on the Power of 5 Test Kitchen Food Blog will focus on anti-inflammatory foods useful for building your immune system’s strength during very susceptible times like these. Stay strong, keep your social distance, and exercise your body and mind.
To healthy eating for a long and healthy life,
Melissa & Dr. B