Thousands of people worldwide are being impacted by COVID-19. Now more than ever, it’s important to strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of infection.
Thankfully, finding ways to stay healthy is becoming much easier.
Through basic lifestyle changes, everyone can improve their immune system. The number one recommended method of boosting the immune system is through a healthy diet. This diet must include essential minerals & vitamins.
Keep reading to learn about five essential minerals & vitamins that can help fight COVID-19, as well as healthy food to eat that features them.
1. Vitamin A
Having a healthy gut is key to a healthy immune system. The gut is full of microorganisms that work together to regulate the body’s metabolic process and the body’s response to infection. Other systems in the body are influenced by the gut.
Therefore, maintaining a balanced gut is the key to a balanced immune system.
Vitamin A regulates the immune response by acting as an anti-inflammatory. When the gut recognizes a potentially harmful virus or bacteria, it elicits an immune response. Vitamin A prevents the gut from overreacting to harmless bacteria.
Vitamin A is also linked to growth and development in the body. It promotes healthy cell division as well as cell growth. Vitamin A may increase the number of white blood cells, and other immune cells in the body.
Foods that are high in vitamin A include carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes, as well as fish and certain dairy products.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C aids in the production of white blood cells that are responsible for producing antibodies.
This vitamin also facilitates the absorption of iron in the body. Iron contributes to the regulation of the body’s metabolism, as well as the production of red blood cells.
In addition to producing red blood cells, iron is vital for carrying oxygen throughout the body.
One of the highest sources of vitamin C is citrus fruits. Vegetables such as bell peppers, tomatoes, and kale, may also be suitable sources. Alkaline diets and alkaline recipes also tend to incorporate vitamin C.
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D contributes to the strength of our bones and muscles by helping the body absorb calcium.
Good bone health is directly related to good immune health. Within the bones is tissue known as bone marrow. Bone marrow is responsible for producing red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
Red blood cells carry oxygen to the rest of the body, and also rid the body of carbon dioxide and waste.
White blood cells, or leukocytes, are the primary cell that protects the body against infection. Therefore, they are necessary for fighting COVID. There are several categories of white blood cells each with unique functions.
Certain white blood cells act as the first line of defense. They create antibodies that fight against harmful bacteria and viruses. Other white blood cells are designed to recognize foreign material in the body to elicit an immune response.
In addition to red and white blood cells are platelets, which help with clotting when the body is bleeding.
Rather than eating healthier during COVID, getting vitamin D can be done by spending time in the sun. Sunlight is one of the best natural sources of this vitamin. However, food sources include fatty fish, seafood, and eggs.
4. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a popular antioxidant. Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals. Free radicals are any unstable molecule that can damage the cells in the body.
Too many free radicals can lead to oxidative stress, which can contribute to aging and increase the risk of disease.
Antioxidants also lower blood pressure. Having high blood pressure can damage the arteries, which are necessary for the immune response. Strong arteries are needed to carry oxygen and nutrients to the rest of the body.
Healthy food to eat that is high in vitamin E includes nuts, seeds, and leafy vegetables.
Zinc is necessary to maintain the normal functioning of cells.
Zinc may prevent over-inflammation. Inflammation occurs in two forms: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is a natural and healthy immune response.
Acute inflammation occurs when the body experiences infection or tissue damage. It is an acute inflammation that allows the body to begin its healing process. However, frequent or prolonged inflammation leads to chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation increases the risk of several harmful diseases.
These include certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, as well as neurodegenerative diseases. These diseases are also associated with weaker immune systems.
Food sources that are high in zinc are also protein sources. For example, meat, shellfish, dairy, and eggs. However, vegetarian or vegan alternatives, legumes, nuts, and whole grains are recommended.
Tips for Incorporating Essential Minerals & Vitamins in the Diet
Some of the best sources for these minerals & vitamins are fruits and vegetables. Emphasizing diets that incorporate fruits and vegetables may be a good start to boosting the immune system.
For example, vegetarian and vegan diets rely on fruits and vegetables, as well as grains and nuts, to receive their nutrients.
Consider experimenting with vegetarian or vegan recipes. Otherwise, find recommended vegan restaurants within the area that can cater to dietary needs.
Other Suggestions for Combatting COVID
Eating healthy and boosting the immune system is a great start to fighting COVID. However, there are other strategies in addition to eating healthier that may help. For example, engaging in proper hygiene practices.
Be sure to wash hands frequently with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds.
It’s advised to avoid large crowds. When around other people, maintain at least a 6-foot distance and wear a mask. Avoid contact with anyone who may be sick.
During a pandemic, it’s important to be taking care of all aspects of health. However, to avoid being infected by COVID, commit to eating more essential minerals & vitamins.
Not only will this boost the immune system, but it will contribute to greater overall health.
If you’re hesitant to prepare new recipes or incorporate new foods, make things easier by going out to eat. Plenty of local restaurants, such as the Life Bistro in Atlanta, offer vegan and alkaline friendly meals. As long as you’re eating nutritious food, you’ll be partnering with your body to fight COVID!