There is little doubt that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting every aspect of our lives — from restaurants closing to outright quarantines. It’s also true no one knows how long these virus safety measures will need to stay in place.
This presents an opportunity to protect and improve your health. Sticking with healthy habits is one of the most important things you can do to keep your immune system in top condition. Here are some steps you can take to eating healthy in the times of COVID-19.
Nutrition As Your Weapon
Ask yourself what certain foods would benefit towards increasing your immune system. The answer is incorporating whole foods and increasing fresh fruits and vegetables into your daily eating regimen. Eating whole foods is a good way to get plenty of nutrients, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, which may improve your health. In addition, plant-based foods provide phytochemicals that directly build your body’s immunity by protecting your body from oxidative damage and lowering the risk of chronic disease. These food choices will also lessen the chance of increased weight gain.
Vitamin C increases antibody activity. Food choices would be oranges, strawberries, broccoli, and spinach.
Vitamin D selectively kills bacteria and viruses and increases white blood cell activity. Food choices would be eggs, cheese, mushrooms, and tofu.
Zinc & Protein increase immunity. Food choices would be dairy, lean meat, beans, nuts, zinc, and iron-fortified cereal.
Pre- & Probiotics enhance the gut microbiome which increases immunity. Food choices would be yogurt, kefir, bananas, and beans.
Beta Carotene converts to Vitamin A which increases immune system functioning. Food choices would be kale, carrots, apricots, and red bell peppers.
Hydration. Dehydration increases physical stressors that lead to decreases in immune system functioning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the recommended amount for adults is 2 liters (64 oz) of water a day.
Remember, there is no magic food that is guaranteed to boost your immune system and protect you from COVD-19. But including foods that contain sufficient amounts of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants can keep your immune system functioning optimally, which can help keep you healthy!
Minimizing Processed Foods
It is well known that processed foods bring in calories with high amounts of sugar, fat, and sodium that can disrupt body systems (endocrine, cardiovascular, digestive, etc.). Processed foods also lack essential nutrients our bodies need.
Examples of convenience foods:
If you must purchase processed foods, think about ways to improve them by adding fruits, vegetables and/or whole grains. (For example: add a hearty helping of steamed vegetables or salad as a side to your frozen entree or mix some chopped vegetables into your noodles.) This will help you get more of the nutrients highlighted above.
Food Delivery Services
It will save you time and let you keep your social distance. For online shopping, be sure to plan ahead; many stores need a day or two from order to delivery or pickup.
Mental And Emotional Health
Beyond taking care of our body by fueling with nutrient-dense foods, it is equally as important to focus on mental and emotional health. Be sure you're following some of these tips to take care of your mental health during this difficult time.
As the effects of COVID-19 impede our daily routines and freedoms, remember, to make sure you are gently taking care of your mind and body. Stay positive and stay healthy!
Let's Move! STL Dietitians