As cases of coronavirus continue to soar sky-high, healthcare professionals all over the globe are urging the masses to take daily precautions, such as social distancing, washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your face and nose, exercising and getting enough sleep to lower the risk of infection. However, is it really enough? We believe that boosting your immune system by maintaining a healthy diet may also give you an edge. Even though no research has been done on foods that help fight against COVID-19, but these immune-boosting foods will surely strengthen immune system to face the pandemic.
Red Bell Peppers
When your body is fighting an infection, it experiences what we call the oxidative stress. This spurs the production of free radicals which can penetrate cell walls, leaking their contents into tissues and exacerbating inflammation. Foods rich in Vitamin C and E help to protect your cells from oxidative stress. Vitamin C also helps in the production of specialized cells, such as phagocytes, lymphocytes, and neutrophils, that account for your immune response and help to clean up this cellular mess. When we talk about rich sources of vitamin C, Red bell peppers reign supreme. In fact, one cup of chopped bell peppers meet 211% of your daily value of vitamin C.
Vitamin C also fortifies your immune system by lowering the risk of respiratory infections. In addition, it also aids in the growth and repair of various body tissues. Since our bodies cannot produce vitamin C, daily intake of this vitamin is essential to meet your daily requirement. Simply snack on sliced bell peppers dipped in hummus as a crunchy snack or toss some into your salad. Or you can add them to stir-fry dishes, sandwiches, or soups as a scrumptious addition.
Talking about vitamin C rich foods, Broccoli is also a rich source of this vitamin. According to NIH, half a cup of broccoli florets meet 43% of your daily value of vitamin C. Not to mention, this powerhouse vegetable is packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals, both of which serve to support our immune system. Broccoli is also packed with vitamin E, which helps to combat viruses and bacteria. Broccoli supplies an array of B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, and B6). Together, these vitamins and minerals help the immune system to run in top form. Unfortunately, vitamin C is one nutrient that people are not getting enough of. To get the maximum benefit from this amazing vegetable, eat it blanched, raw, or lightly stir fried with bell peppers, ginger, garlic, mushrooms and parmesan.
Antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, garlic and onion are essential for fortifying the immune system, helping your body fight off viruses. Onions are a rich source of vitamins E, B and C, helping your body fight off infections and alleviate the risk of infectious diseases. In addition to onions, try incorporating other antioxidant rich foods into your diet, such as carrots, pumpkins, and eggplants.
Zinc can be thought of as the underdog of the immune system pyramid. In addition to its numerous benefits of the skin and hair, zinc also combats your body against flu by attacking the infected cells. When we talk about zinc rich foods, oysters take the lead, but spinach, lamb and beef are also excellent sources. Zinc looks after your immune system by acting as an antioxidant, helping mop up some of the damage caused by oxidative stress. You can include more zinc in your diet by incorporating fish and oysters into your day.
B vitamins, especially B12, B9, and B6 act as your body’s first response once a pathogen has been detected. B vitamins accomplish this by controlling he activity and production of “natural killer” cells. These cells cause the infected cells to implode, which helps us stay protected us from infectious diseases. To incorporate more B6 into your life, add meat, chicken, fish, nuts, fruits, green leafy vegetables, legumes and cereal to your meals. Rich sources of B9 (folate) include seeds, nuts, legumes, and green leafy vegetables. B12 is found in fortified soy milk, dairy, meat, and eggs.
Our immune cells need vitamin D to destroy infection causing pathogens. Although our bodies produce vitamin D naturally during sun exposure, foods including margarine brands, milk, fish and eggs are also rich sources, especially mushrooms. The “sunshine vitamin” helps to enhance the absorption of calcium, which is essential for bone growth and repair, and may also protect against some cancers and respiratory diseases.
In addition to being an excellent source of vitamin D, mushrooms are high in selenium and B vitamins like riboflavin and niacin, which are necessary for the immune system to work in tip top form. The therapeutic component in these wonderful fungi act as antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and cell-regenerating agents.
Try adding them to your daily diet, whether you want to roast them using minced garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil, toss them to salads and soups, or stuff them with artichoke hearts, onions and cheese.
Spinach is bursting with antioxidants and vitamin C, which helps to protect our immune cells from environmental damage. Not to mention, spinach also incorporates beta carotene, the main source of vitamin A, which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. The nutrients in spinach boost immune function and provide the body with necessary nutrients for cell division and DNA repair. Spinach can be blanched, added to dips or incorporated in salads and smoothies.
This flavorful black-purple fruit, derived from the acai palm tree in Brazil, is high in anthocyanins. These flavonoid molecules act as potent antioxidants. They help to fight off oxidative stress in the body by mopping up free radicals. Antioxidants fortify your immune system and help to lower inflammation in the body.
Garlic has been heralded for its immune boosting properties since time immemorial. Garlic has stellar anti-fungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties. Garlic helps to combat free radicals that play a role in debilitating health conditions. The antiviral properties may be helpful in reducing the severity of colds, flu or COVID-19 infections.