By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
Many people are wondering how they can strengthen and boost their immune systems with food amid the coronavirus. While there’s not one specific food or supplement that has been shown to ward off or prevent COVID-19, it’s always smart to eat right and give your body the help it needs to fight off common illnesses and stay healthy throughout the year.
Do you wonder how to boost immune system function? It’s as easy as looking in your cupboard. Common foods that you enjoy every day are packed with minerals that strengthen your body and are the main source of nutrition with a vitamins supplement filling gaps in your diet.
Eating well is certainly less stressful (and cheaper) than having to spend money on medication and doctor’s visits if you do get sick.
Vitamins A, C, and D are well-known and popular options for anyone interested in giving their immune systems a boost. Vitamin C is vital for your white blood cells to work, and Vitality Labs functional medical specialist Dr. Alexis Daniels says your body needs a 1000x dose of vitamin C when you’re feeling ill.
Vitamins A and D also contain potent elements to help balance the immune system. This duo, along with vitamin C and many other nutrients, can be found in many foods you probably buy every day.
Springtime means there’s plenty of tasty fruit to enjoy. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, or limes are filled with a bevy of nutrients, like vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. Nutrients like these will keep your immune system strong.
Whether you like blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, or something else, you are covered! Berries are full of vitamins and antioxidants that will boost your immune system and benefit your entire body. Berries are a great snack during the day since they can help satisfy a sweet tooth in a healthy manner. And they come filled with vitamins C, K, and other nutrients like manganese and potassium.
Foods like almonds and peanuts also make good snacks and are a good choice if you’re on the hunt for foods to help boost your immune system. A wide range of nuts contain plentiful amounts of vitamin E, which plays a big role in strengthening the immune system. Vitamin E is even recommended for cancer patients during chemotherapy to reduce side effects.
Yes, even yogurt can be a powerful tool to help your body stay healthy, if it’s the right kind. Greek yogurt or options packed with probiotics are the choices you should opt for. “Good” bacteria helps defeat the bad ones lurking in your gut. It’s easy to mix yogurt with nuts or fruits if you’re interested in a bit of texture. Other foods high in probiotics include kefir, kimchi, and sourdough bread.
Are eggs healthy? They’ve gotten a bad rap when it comes to fears about cholesterol. However, eggs are some of the best foods you can eat. They’re packed with nutrients, especially vitamin A—that’s a strong immune booster that helps fight against infection. Eggs also contain nearly zero carbohydrates, which makes them a great choice for fans of the keto diet or people who might be trying to manage a diabetic diet.
Food isn’t the only way to boost your immune system. One of the best investments you can make in your health and immune system is to simply drink lots of water. Water intake is a great boost to your body. Enough water helps keep your mind sharp and aids greatly in the digestion of food.
Water benefits also extend to keeping your immune system strong. Staying hydrated helps prevent viruses and bacteria from entering your body through the eyes, nose, and mouth. When these areas are dry, they can become irritated, and they quickly become a home for unwanted pathogens that can make you sick later on.
Drinking enough water also helps your kidneys expel toxic buildup from your body. Once your kidneys are able to work and get rid of foreign invaders in your body, you’ll see your immune system strengthen, as it has less to fight off.
Some people choose to hydrate with a lemon in their water. This is a smart move because lemons are a great source of immune-boosting vitamin C. Adding lemon also helps with general digestion and, for many, it adds a flavor to water that makes it easier to drink more throughout the day.
While it’s important to eat well to give your immune system the strength it needs against pathogens, other elements of your lifestyle are just as important for your immune health.
Exercise and proper sleep go a long way toward keeping your body free from stress. Stress has been shown to be linked with a variety of health ailments, including stomach issues and even heart disease. Exercise also promotes circulation in your body, which means your white blood cells are able to move across your blood vessels easier and do their job of destroying pathogens.
Stress is a factor that varies between people and it can be hard to control. Some scientists argue that long-term stress, like issues with family or friends, might take a heavy toll on the immune system if the stressful situations turn into chronic problems.
Maintaining a normal sleep schedule and exercising well are two of the best ways to limit stress in your life. The great thing is that doing one will help the other. When you sleep well, you’ll find your body is ready to perform much better when it comes to exercise. And you’ll see it’s much easier to sleep at night when you exercise because your body craves the time to repair and recover.
A common health concern is that cold exposure increases susceptibility to illness. So far, results from scientists have led to mixed opinions. However, you should still wear proper clothing when going outside if you’re outside on a cold day for a long period of time.
Spending money on supplements is sometimes necessary. Even so, you most likely have a number of foods in your kitchen already that you can eat more regularly to increase your intake of important vitamins. Make sure to maintain a healthy intake of nutrients through food and supplements to keep your body healthy.