We are living in somber times, difficult and dark because we just don’t know what is going to happen next. COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11th. Countries continue locking down their borders and imposing strict travel restrictions on both citizens and visitors. Even the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has been postponed to 2021, as have other sporting events and entertainment shows around the world. People are stocking up on everything from hand sanitizer and masks, toilet paper, soup, and pasta. Foods that can sit on pantry shelves for months without spoiling sell out the moment grocery stores put them up for sale. All around the globe, most cities have instituted bold policies about what stores can open and what ones cannot, allowing only those who offer essential services — like grocery stores and pharmacies — to open their doors. Every day, death tolls rise and new, alarming information is released by government officials.
In this bombardment of bad news and negativity, however, there is a little good news. There is no vaccine or cure for COVID-19 currently, but you can make your immune system strong by eating the right foods. And eating well is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick, right up there with lots of handwashing and social distancing. If you’re going to stave off an infection, you need a healthy body! To achieve that, you need your immune system operating in peak condition, so it has a chance to fight infections of all kinds. Your immunity is your body’s best tool for keeping you healthy and strong, and feeding yourself properly helps ensure yours is fit, capable and able to fight all kinds of disease.
A key component of strong immunity is a nutritious, balanced diet, experts say.
That means eating lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products like yogurt, along with plenty of protein. Here are 9 foods that boost immunity, help you stay strong and keep your body functioning like a well-oiled machine:
This commonplace veggie is a nutrient powerhouse, a terrific source of vitamins, fiber and minerals. But it’s also full of antioxidants, the cancer-fighting ingredient you hear so much about these days. And because carrots are filled with vitamin C, studies show that they help fight disease and infections. If you’re a fan of green smoothies, toss in a carrot tomorrow morning and get the added benefit of all its delicious nutrients.
Throughout the ages, garlic has been used to make all kinds of food delicious and nutritious. But garlic also boosts immunity, some studies show, meaning its health benefits are numerous. Using aged garlic has been shown to impact your immune system’s cells, attacking and destroying many infections and viruses. Furthermore, once it’s done that, it leaves behind antibodies that fight future illnesses.
One study showed that, after 90 days, those who used garlic frequently got sick less often than those folks who didn’t. Not only that, but it also helps you get better more quickly, research suggests. So when you’re making dinner, toss in a little chopped garlic to whatever you’re cooking. It can’t cure COVID-19, but it helps keep you healthy and tastes delicious!
Ginger is renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties, but it also contains lots of antioxidants that fight against all kinds of diseases. But antioxidants also fight off free radicals too, which are damaging molecules that can harm your immune system and overall physical health.
A little ginger, perhaps in your tea or as an ingredient in your supper time stir fry, can be your immunity’s best friend. It inhibits fatty buildup in your heart’s arteries and lessens the impact of bacterial infections on your body. Whether it’s a bug in your tummy or a sore throat, ginger is soothing and helps heal those physical issues quickly — and it’s so tasty!
4) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This ‘nectar from the gods’ has naturally occurring polyphenolic compounds, which is another antioxidant found in Mother Nature’s best foods. The biggest one is called oleuropein, which gives extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) that wonderful peppery flavor that is so rich and tasty.
Experts agree that two or three tablespoons of this type of olive oil help keep your immunity boosted and in prime condition. Again, this is one of nature’s wonder foods — it tastes great, it’s nutritious, and it enhances immunity to help fight disease.
5) Apple Cider Vinegar
There are lots of myths out there about all types of vinegar, but apple cider vinegar deserves its reputation as a health-boosting, disease busting substance that is full of rich, powerful nutrients that fire up your immunity.
It boosts immunity in a bunch of different ways: it’s got lots of helpful bacteria and prebiotics that really increase your immunity, and it’s got lots of properties that stave off bad bacteria and help you fight infections and viruses. Last but not least, apple cider vinegar encourages your lymphatic system to drain, and it increases your circulation and heart health. Finally, it can even help your body get rid of bugs and illness so you recover more quickly.
6) Fish Oil
Fish oil is a fabulous source of omega 3 fatty acids, and your body needs those to maintain all the different demands you place on it, like cell growth and muscle development.
You get these acids from foods, like fresh salmon and leafy green vegetables. Omega 3 fatty acids aren’t made by your body — you have to ingest them. Fish oil contains two omegas, in particular, that are really good for immunity: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Experts agree that consuming these two fatty acids especially may increase your immune system’s B cells — a vital tool in your immunity’s kit.
Also, there is promising research out there indicating that, in addition to fighting inflammation in people with, for example, arthritis, fish oil might help those who have compromised immune systems. Although the work on this is not yet complete, it is certainly very optimistic.
This popular nut is found in most grocery and health food stores, and it’s long been hailed by doctors and nutritionists for its protein wallop in each serving. Almonds are also loaded with vitamin E, magnesium, fiber, and other vital minerals. Those who follow a vegan diet should definitely consider almonds as their regular source of protein. Just one-half cup offers you all the vitamin E you need for the day and lots of fiber and other nutrients.
Now scientists and doctors are studying almonds for their impact on immunity, and the news is promising. Some experts believe almonds will soon be shown to have a positive impact on the body’s ability to fight infections and viruses.
Eating yogurt, especially yogurt that has probiotics, is a great way to get your daily calcium and potentially boost your immunity. Probiotics help reduce your risk of illness, everything from tummy troubles to inflammation, so they are an important component of a healthy diet. Some studies suggest they even play a role in enhancing your immunity.
There is a growing belief in scientific circles that yogurt with probiotics can increase the NK cells (Natural Killers, agents in cellular immunity) in your immune system, which means you’re better able to fight off infections and viruses.
If you find plain yogurt a bit dull, jazz it up with a little granola, or chopped nuts, or fresh fruit. Even sweetening it with a dollop of honey can make yogurt a great dessert option.
9) Kiwi Fruit
This little gem of the fruit contains tons of vitamins, carotenoids, fiber, and other important nutrients, all of which are good for immunity and overall health. Just one cup of chopped kiwi fruit offers you almost all the vitamins you need in one day, along with fiber for digestion.
And some new studies are even suggesting that two kiwi fruit per day can improve your mood! In these unsure times, when all the news out there is gloomy, it’s important to keep an optimistic outlook. Having a couple of kiwis each day just might help you do that!
The foods we’ve mentioned can go a long way toward improving your overall health and maintaining your immunity, but even more than that — they just might boost your immune system, too, not just maintain it. Of course, your genetics play a huge role in determining your health outcomes, but a balanced diet, along with regular exercise and fresh air — at a safe distance from others, of course — boosts immunity and improves your state of mind. Eating well is always important, but it is perhaps most important right now, while the world is uncertain and no one really knows what might happen next. Consuming healthy food is one way you can control what’s happening today because only you have control over what you eat.
So remember: eat well, store food well, consume little or no alcohol, and exercise regularly, even if it’s in your home. And stay connected to those you love — from a safe distance, of course.
Stay safe and eat well… two rules to live by, now more than ever. Only by acting together, but staying apart, can we defeat the coronavirus!