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Boost your immunity: how eating healthy can protect your body from COVID-19 and chronic disease

Wellness | April 9, 2020
Read how to boost immunity to become healthier and lessen the impact of the new coronavirus.

We find ourselves in uncertain times during the COVID-19 crisis. As the news unfolds and daily statistics are updated, it might feel like many things are out of your control.

However, choosing to focus on factors you are able to control—such as good health and well-being—is highly beneficial. You may wonder what role you play in lessening the spread of the coronavirus and how you can help yourself and your family stay healthy. Social distancing helps stop the spread and your immune system can help lessen your risk and improve recovery if you do contract the virus.

COVID-19 and your immune system

When it comes to the coronavirus, age doesn’t matter. That’s according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report states that nearly four in every 10 cases requiring hospitalization involved people under the age of 55. However, most deaths are still occurring in people over age 65.

The reasons are still somewhat unclear. But experts believe that a weakened immune system and increased inflammation could promote viral replication and more prolonged responses to inflammation—causing lasting damage to the heart, brain and other organs.

But, here’s the good news: you can take steps to improve your immune system. By making healthy food choices, your body’s immune system strengthens and can better fight disease. And maintaining a healthy weight and reducing inflammation can give you a fighting chance to recover more quickly.

Foods to boost immunity

More so than ever during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s become important to take steps to protect yourself and those around you. One way to do this is to protect and improve the immune system. Tapping into the principles of functional medicine and food as medicine is a start. Functional medicine is the science of focusing on the optimal functioning of the body and its organs.

You can increase your odds of recovering from chronic disease by eating well, getting regular exercise and leaning into an overall healthy lifestyle.  

Here are some tips to help boost your immune function:

  • Avoid eating processed foods.
  • Drastically reduce—or eliminate—the sugar and starch in your diet.
  • Choose plant-based, whole foods.
  • Eat enough protein—about half your body weight in grams of protein each day.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol.
  • If you smoke, quit.

Specifically, you should focus on flavonoids with anti-viral properties:

  • Catechins and epicatechin gallate (green tea).
  • Hesperidin (citrus fruits).
  • Kaempferol (spinach, cabbage, dill).
  • Lauric acid (unrefined virgin coconut oil).
  • Oleuropein (olives and extra virgin olive oil).
  • Quercetin (dill, onion, oregano, chili pepper, apples, leafy greens, broccoli).

Try to add the following anti-viral and immune-boosting herbs and spices to the meals you prepare for yourself and your family:

  • Chili pepper, oregano, rosemary, or turmeric.
  • Fresh garlic and ginger.

Ensuring your microbiome (gut bacteria) is healthy and in balance is crucial for decreasing inflammation in the body, which is connected to obesity and most chronic diseases. Up to 60% of our immune system comes from gut health. These prebiotic and probiotic foods can help boost your immunity:

  • Apples, bananas, burdock root, jicama root, Jerusalem artichokes, Konjac root.
  • Dandelion greens, flaxseed.
  • Kefir.
  • Kimchi.
  • Miso.
  • Seaweed.
  • Tempeh.

Whole-person approach to boost immunity

There are several other ways to boost your immunity – and overall health. These include:

  • Get outside—take a walk and avoid populated areas.
  • Get regular mild to moderate exercise—30 to 45 minutes, five times a week.
  • Start your own home garden.
  • Practice meditation and yoga to reduce stress.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Stay connected with loved ones via technology.
  • Take vitamins to boost immunity, including a daily multivitamin, vitamin C, vitamin D3, zinc (20 mg per day), quercetin ascorbate (1/4 teaspoon, twice per day).

 

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