Covid-19 or Corona virus was declared as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. And while the countries are grappling with imminent dangers that this virus poses to humanity, there are few key measures that individuals can take to fight this pandemic.
One of the best ways to stay healthy is by choosing an array of foods to boost your immune system. Eating healthy, antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is an important part of maintaining good immune system health to help ward off infection and illness.
While no one food is a silver bullet for optimal immune system function, these have been studied for their potential positive effects on our immune systems.
Poultry and Lean Meats
Foods high in protein, such as lean meats and poultry, are high in zinc — a mineral that increases the production of white blood cells and T-cells, which fight infection. Other great sources of zinc are oysters, nuts, fortified cereal, and beans.
Demonstrating good timing, these delicious fruits make their appearance right around cold and flu season. Persimmons are high in vitamins A and C, which are important for immune system function.
Just one medium persimmon has about half of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, which has been shown to play a key role in the regulation of immune cells.
Other great sources of vitamin A: Pumpkins, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, spinach
Other great sources of vitamin C: Strawberries, papaya, kiwi, cantaloupe, oranges
When choosing yogurt, go for the style you enjoy the most. It’s important to choose a variety that uses live and active cultures. If you opt for plain yogurt and add fruit, spices, and a little of your favorite sweetener, you will have a lower-sugar snack that’s also loaded with calcium.
The beneficial live cultures in yogurt such as Lactobacillus acidophilus may help prevent colds and other infections or shorten their duration, although more research is needed.
Here’s some happy news for chocolate lovers everywhere: Some studies indicate that cocoa and extracts of cocoa might positively affect various aspects of the immune system as well as act as a powerful antioxidant. As long as you keep the sugar and fat to a minimum, unsweetened cocoa and cocoa powder may play a role in immune system health.
The studies on cocoa are often done on extracts, although they often extrapolate the amount of extract used to a correlating amount of cocoa. Recent studies have also looked at cocoa as a whole, and even dark chocolate. Studies have shown that regular consumption of cocoa/extracts may reduce heart disease risk, help raise good cholesterol, and possibly reverse blood vessel damage in people with diabetes
Omega 3 fatty acids and other healthy fats help increase the activity of white blood cells. There are a few different kinds of omega 3s. Oily fish contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Certain nuts and vegetable oils contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which can only be acquired through foods. The body can convert ALA into EPA and DHA, but it’s more efficient to consume them in your diet.6
Omega 3s may also play an important role in the production of compounds that regulate immunity in the body and help protect the body from damage from over-reacting to infections.
The best way to get the omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA is by eating fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel. You can also get these omega 3s through krill oil capsules or algae supplements (which is a vegan source). Other sources of the omega 3 fatty acid ALA: Flax seeds, flax oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts.
Berries are rich in vitamin C and bioflavonoids, phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables that may work as antioxidants and prevent injury to cells.5
One cup of strawberries contains as much as 100 mg of Vitamin C, which is nearly as much as a cup of orange juice. Dark berries such as blueberries are especially high in bioflavonoids. For an optimal immune system boosting effect, eat a bowl of mixed berries, or vary which berries you choose from day to day, rather than eating just one type.
In general, nuts are good sources of fat, fiber and protein. Most of the fat in nuts is monounsaturated fat, as well as omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fat. However, they do contain some saturated fat. Nuts also pack a number of vitamins and minerals, including magnesium and vitamin E.
Carotenoids such as beta-carotene are important antioxidants that aid in immune system function.Carotenoids are present in bright yellow, orange and red fruits and vegetables, although they can also be found in fruits and veggies that are mostly green. It’s important to get a variety of fruits and vegetables of different colors because various types of carotenoids are thought to work together to strengthen the body’s immune system.
Mushrooms may be a potent weapon in warding off colds, flu, and other infections. Studies done on fresh mushrooms, dried mushrooms, and extracts have shown that mushrooms such as shiitake, maitake, and reishi have antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-tumor effects.
Most of the clinical studies done on garlic’s potential antibacterial and antiviral properties use concentrated extracts. However, historically, cloves of garlic have been used in food for an assortment of health-related reasons.If you enjoy garlic, it doesn’t hurt to include it in your meals and it is possible that some of the health benefits seen from the extracts also translate to culinary uses.