With the COVID-19 virus out there, and all the uncertainty about how it behaves, you’ve got to be wondering, how in the world can I protect myself from something we don’t even fully understand yet?
It can feel like trying to hit a moving target.
We know all about social distancing, staying home, wearing masks. but what steps can you take to make your body less likely to fall victim to the COVID-19 illness?
Or, if you do, what can you do to make sure it’s just a mild case, one that your body can recover from quickly?
Something you’ve heard here numerous times is just as true in this case: food is probably your best medicine.
Making very deliberate choices about the foods you eat and what kinds of meals you prepare for yourself, and what you don’t eat, can truly make the difference between good or poor health or between a minor illness and a life-threatening one.
A strong immune system now is so important. You want to keep COVID-19 away, but you also want to keep other illnesses away that can make you an easy target for the virus.
Here’s the skinny on a dozen foods that will help you put a suit of armor around your body by improving and strengthening your immune system.
Foods that make your immune system powerful
- Citrus fruits. You may have heard that hospitals in New York are treating COVID-19 patients with mega doses of Vitamin C. While it’s not a cure for COVID-19, nor a guarantee that you won’t contract the illness, Vitamin C is well-known to support the immune system. Many people up their Vitamin C intake during the winter cold and flu season.
- Red bell peppers. Ounce for ounce, these peppers contain twice as much Vitamin C as citrus fruits. They’re also rich in beta carotene, which contributes to immune system health.
- Broccoli. It’s healthiest if eaten raw, or cooked lightly. It’s full of Vitamin A, which helps the gastrointestinal tract deal with the inflammation that comes with illness.
- Garlic. Garlic contains a compound called alliin which, when crushed or chewed, becomes allicin. Allicin converts to sulphur-containing compounds that boost the response of white blood cells to viruses that cause the common cold or the flu.
- Ginger. Ginger helps reduce inflammation, which is why ginger tea is so good for a sore throat.
- Spinach. Like broccoli, spinach is most beneficial eaten raw or lightly cooked. It contains Vitamin C and beta carotene, which is thought to increase our body’s infection-fighting abilities.
- Yogurt. Go for plain, unflavored yogurt to avoid the sugar. You can drizzle honey on it to sweeten it up. Look for yogurt with “live and active cultures,” which may stimulate the immune system. The vitamin D in yogurt helps regulate the immune system and is thought to boost the body’s natural defenses.
- Almonds. Almonds are packed with Vitamin E, which has been found to affect the development and regulation of specific immune cells, including NK (natural killer) cells and macrophages.
- Turmeric. This yellow spice has been known for years as a potent anti-inflammatory. It increases the immunomodulating capacity of the body. In other words, it helps the body increase its immune response in the face of a virus or other disease-causing agent.
- Green tea. Green tea has exceptionally high levels of epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to stop the growth of the bacteria that causes tuberculosis.
- Sunflower seeds. Like almonds, these seeds are a delicious and convenient snack, and are packed with immune-boosting Vitamin E.
- Shellfish. Not all shellfish are created equal here, but if you have a taste for mussels, crab, clams or lobster, you’re in luck. These shellfish are rich in zinc, one of the first supplements you should reach for when you feel a cold coming on. Keep in mind, though, that you don’t want to have more than the daily recommended amount of zinc. For adult men, that’s 11mg, and for women it’s 8mg. Too much zinc can actually inhibit immune system function.