Having a strong immune system helps protect against infections from bacteria and viruses and it’s important to take care of it. Scientists have confirmed that proper hand washing and social distancing are the two most basic and important preventions against the spread of infection. Below I answer some common immune-related nutrition questions to keep you informed so you can make the best choices for you and your loved ones.
Q: CAN YOU REDUCE THE RISK OF COVID-19 THROUGH SUPPLEMENTATION?
There’s NO evidence that ANY supplement or “superfood” is effective against COVID-19. The novel coronavirus is too new and we also don’t know if any supplements could WORSEN specific manifestations of COVID-19 or interact with potential medications! Do not rely on supplements if you suspect COVID-19. See a physician and get real medical care.
Keep in mind that consuming an array of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) from whole foods to support the immune system, diligent hygiene and social distancing will always triumph over any supplement. A poor diet is tied to an increase in general infection risk, and lack of sleep is possibly an even greater factor.
Q: ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL FOODS I SHOULD EAT?
There are no special foods, but I encourage you to prioritize basic healthy nutrition practices. In order to boost the quality of your nutrition, focus on:
- Protein to help with repair and recovery. (If you’re physically active aim for 1.2–2.0 g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight)
- Colourful fruits and vegetables can provide beneficial vitamins and minerals
- Eating plenty of fibre from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans/legumes can keep your gut microbiome and immunity in tip top shape. (Women: at least 25g/day. Men: at least 38g/day)
- If you need help with simple, immune-supportive recipes I have my Recipe Books for download here
Q: WHAT CAN I DO TO REDUCE MY CHANCES OF GETTING SICK?
- Avoid over- or under-exercising
- Avoid over- or under-eating
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Wash your hands
- Get enough sleep (a lack of sleep and impaired sleep quality is tied to an increase in general infection risk[source])
- Manage stress (download a guided meditation app like Headspace, Insight Timer or Calm or Youtube ‘gentle yoga’ and ‘breath work’ videos)
- Eat colourful whole foods
- Eat 1-2 servings of probiotic rich foods per day (examples: raw sauerkraut, raw kimchi, yogurt with live and active cultures)
- Stay hydrated by drinking at least 2L of water per day
- Avoid smoking
- Reduce alcohol
Q: WHAT SUPPLEMENTS CAN I TAKE TO WARD OFF INFECTION OR LESSEN ITS SYMPTOMS? (These are NOT supplement suggestions for the novel coronavirus):
- Vitamin C can reduce the duration of cold symptoms only if you’ve started taking it regularly before falling sick. This deems to be particularly true for athletes and older people.[source]
- Vitamin D can help prevent upper respiratory infections.[source] Try to get outside as much as possible and allow your skin to synthesize Vitamin D, as solar UV rays can inactivate viruses.[source] People who spend a lot of time indoors in the winter are at risk of seasonal flu through increased transmission of viruses because of closed areas and lack of sun. Do not take high amounts of Vitamin D! Stick to what is instructed on the label. For moderate supplementation, a 1,000-2,000IU dose of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is sufficient to meet the needs of most of the population. Vitamin D should be taken daily, with meals or a source of fat, like fish oil.
- Zinc Acetate or Zinc Gluconate Oral Lozenges may reduce symptom severity for the common cold, due to inhibiting viral replication at the back of your throat.[source]
Q: WHAT ARE THE BEST NUTRIENT-DENSE FOODS I CAN STOCK MY KITCHEN WITH?
I recorded a Facebook Live last week covering all my favourite staple items and brands, you can watch it here. Or follow this list below, most of these foods are non-perishable or have a long counter or fridge life of at least 2 weeks:
- Black beans
- Pinto beans
- Garbanzo beans
- Diced tomatoes
- Organic corn
- Sweet peas
Canned coconut milk (amazing for stir frys and curries)
- Rice (white & brown)
- Rice cakes (great as a quick pre and post workout snack)
- Whole wheat, lentil, or chickpea pastas, or buckwheat noodles
- High fibre bread and tortilla wraps (can be frozen)
- Chicken broth
- Bone broth
- Boxed Almond Milk
Dried fruits, Nuts, Seeds:
- Goji berries
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Sunflower Seeds
- Almond butter
- Peanut butter
- Powdered Peanut Butter
- Hot sauce
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Avocado Mayonnaise
- Spaghetti or Marinara Sauce
- Soy Sauce or Tamari
consider canned or frozen so they can be stored for a longer period
- Sardines (although it’s not the most loved fish in terms of taste, it is one the most nutrient-dense proteins on the planet, here are 14 ways you can enjoy them)
- Greek yogurt
Frozen produce is typically higher in nutrients than fresh since they are flash frozen immediately after harvest.
- Fruits (frozen fruits are great for smoothies)
- Mixed Frozen Vegetables (great for a quick stir fry)
- Garlic (peel them and store in a mason jar in the fridge to last longer)
- Sweet potatoes
- Yukon gold potatoes
Ferments (rich in probiotics):
- Protein powder
- Protein bars
- Raw honey
- Herbs and Spices to add flavour and antioxidants to your meals
I hope this extensive post has given you more tools to help you take better control of your health! If you are looking for extra support please send me a message and share any struggles or questions you have — coronavirus related or not. I’m here to help and support you anyway that I can.
Sending love <3