5 immune boosters to help keep you healthy amid COVID-19 outbreak

As COVID-19 has hit people of all ages, many of us are wondering what we can do to boost our immune system to help fight off COVID and other common illnesses. While there’s a lot of information at our fingertips, it can be hard to tell fact from fiction.

First and foremost, does having a strong immune system help prevent illness?

In a word: Yes.

“Whether a virus or bacteria, your body is being attacked by something and it needs to fight it,” says Kristin Gustashaw, MS, RDN, LDN, CSG, clinical dietitian and nutrition consultant at Rush University Medical Center. “Between a strong immune system and healthy diet, your well-oiled machine is going to allow you to better take any hit from a virus or cold.”

An unbalanced diet is one way your body develops immune-related deficiencies, leading to greater health risks and longer recovery times.

Nutritional deficiencies, or micronutrient deficiencies, happen when you’re not getting enough of the essential vitamins or minerals needed for optimum health and immunity. And this is a common challenge among people of all ages.

So how do we make sure we’re addressing or avoiding these deficiencies?

Particularlity, I’am going to discuss the 5 most important immune boosters to help you stay healthy amid the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Vitamin A (Beta Carotene)

Vitamin A plays a vital role in maintaining your body’s natural defenses.

This includes the mucous barriers in your eyes, lungs, gut and genitals which help trap bacteria and other infectious agents.

It’s also involved in the production and function of white blood cells, which help capture and clear bacteria and viruses from your bloodstream.

This means that a deficiency in vitamin A can increase your susceptibility to infections and delay your recovery when you get sick.

Vitamin A are highest in liver and fish oils.  Other sources of  Vitamin A-rich foods include milk, eggs, carrots, sweet potato, spinach, broccoli and red bell peppers.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps to boost the immunity, as vitamin C is involved in many parts of the immune system.

It encourage the production of white blood cells known as lymphocytes and phagocytes, which help protect the body against infection. Secondly, vitamin C helps these white blood cells function more effectively while protecting them from damage by potentially harmful molecules, such as free radicals.

High vitamin C foods include guavas, bell peppers, kiwi, strawberries, oranges and all Citrus fruits, papayas, broccoli, and tomatoes.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant. This means it protects body tissue from damage caused by substances called free radicals. Free radicals can harm cells, tissues, and organs.

The body also needs vitamin E to help keep the immune system strong against viruses and bacteria. Vitamin E is also important in the formation of red blood cells. It helps the body use vitamin K. It also helps widen blood vessels and keep blood from clotting inside them.

If you don’t get enough, you may become more prone to infections. Fortunately, vitamin E is widespread in foods. As a result, you are unlikely to become deficient unless your nutrient absorption is impaired.

Foods full of vitamin E include vegetable oils, nuts (including Almonds, Hazelnuts, Almonds, Pine Nuts, Peanuts) , seeds (like Sunflower Seeds) and avocado.

Zinc

Zinc is a nutrient that plays many vital roles in your body.

In fact, zinc is the second-most-abundant trace mineral in your body — after iron — and is present in every cell.

Zinc is necessary for the activity of over 300 enzymes that aid in metabolism, digestion, nerve function and many other processes.

In addition, it’s critical for the development and function of immune cells.

Because your body doesn’t naturally produce zinc, you must obtain it through food or supplements.

Foods highest in zinc include:

Shellfish: Oysters, crab, mussels, lobster and clams

Meat: Beef, pork, lamb and bison

Poultry: Turkey and chicken

Fish: Flounder, sardines, salmon and sole

Legumes: Chickpeas, lentils, black beans, kidney beans, etc.

Nuts and seeds: Pumpkin seeds, cashews, hemp seeds, etc.

Dairy products: Milk, yogurt and cheese

Eggs

Whole grains: Oats, quinoa, brown rice, etc.

Certain vegetables: Mushrooms, kale, peas, asparagus and beet greens.

Protein

Specific amino acids found in protein are essential for T-cell function, which are cells that protect the body against pathogens. Meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds all have lots of protein.

These nutrients have been shown to help your immune system work most efficiently and effectively, but too much of a good thing can be harmful.

Last advice,Eat these nutrients in moderation and don’t go overboard. If you eat too many carrots, you may just turn orange!

And as always with preventing the spread of illness, wash your hands frequently, wear your mask avoid the crowds and gatherings.

 

Dr.Fadi Sameer

General Practitioner, Babylon Medical Services LLC