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As I’m writing this article, I’m confined to my apartment amidst the Coronavirus outbreak and, most likely, you are too.
During these times, you might be wondering how to prevent being infected, or if there are ways to fight against the virus.
I’m going to preface this by saying that there are no miracle cures, foods, or supplements against the virus. The tips I’m going to give you may help boost your immune system and put you in optimal conditions, but they are not automatically going to prevent you from getting the virus.
It’s very important that you stay at home, practice social distancing, and wash your hands very frequently as well.
That being said, here are some tips on how to boost your immune system!
Eat the right foods.
You probably guessed it, eating healthily is going to be the main focus of this post.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Now more than ever, it’s time to eat your fruit and veggies!
I hope you all know how important they are for optimal well-being thanks to their great health properties.
They are filled with healthy fiber, which, among other things, supports your gut health (more on that later). They are rich in important vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, anti-inflammatory agents..the list goes on.
So make sure to stock up on these goods.
2. Go for the frozen options.
Since you should be limiting your time outside, and therefore spending as little time grocery shopping as possible, it’s a good idea to stock up on frozen foods.
For some reason, people seem to think that frozen fruit and veggies aren’t as healthy as fresh ones. In reality, frozen produce may even be more nutritious than what you buy “fresh” in stores.
They are picked at peak maturity and are most often frozen without the addition of any chemicals. The only thing they might contain is ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to help prevent spoiling.
Check the ingredients before you buy and stock up on the frozen goods. That way, you’ll be sure to have all the fruit and veggies you need for weeks!
And what about canned vegetables? Well, they aren’t all created equal. If they contain no added ingredients or preservatives and are in a BPA-free container, go for it— they are super healthy as well!
3. Get plenty of antioxidants.
Now’s also the time to get in some antioxidants. They help defend your cells from the damage caused by free radicals. When free radicals accumulate in your body (from pollution, smoke, UV rays…), it causes oxidative stress.
This can damage molecules in your body, increasing your risk of cancer and premature aging. They’re also great to prevent and fight off infections.
There are different types of antioxidants: Vitamin C is found in many fruit and vegetables. Vitamin E is found in nuts and seeds. Lutein is found in leafy green vegetables. Selenium is found in nuts, shellfish, poultry, and whole-wheat foods. Polyphenols are found in berries, wine, grapes, tea, dark chocolate, and apples.
Here is an article with all the details concerning which foods contain which antioxidants. Make sure to check it out!
4. Take care of your gut health.
Your gut microbiome refers to the different microorganisms living in your large intestine. It’s basically your “good” gut bacteria. Studies are constantly demonstrating the link between our microbiome and numerous aspects of our health.
A healthy gut is especially important for a healthy immune system. During these times, it’s important that you take care of your gut health in order to have the strongest immune system possible.
Make sure to eat plenty of fiber, whole grains, and fruit and veggies. Fermented foods are also a great way to enrich your probiotic bacteria. Yogurt, kefir, kombucha, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, sourdough, miso…there are many options to add to your plate!
Make sure to check out this post for more information on gut health and which foods to eat for optimal gut microbiome.
5. Don’t forget herbs and spices!
Herbs and spices are often forgotten but they can be great tools to help boost your immune system and fight infection.
They contain many antioxidants and often have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Turmeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon…add them to your favorite dishes!
Make sure to exercise!
Exercise has so many amazing health benefits. It can lower your risk of diseases such as diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer…It’s also great for your mental health, your stress levels, and your sleep quality. So exercising is super important to boost your immune system.
Even if you can’t go to the gym, it’s still important to get in some physical activity. If you have a back-yard, take advantage of it to do some running, jump rope, jumping jacks, push-up…
If you don’t have a yard and don’t have enough room to do some of these activities indoors, try yoga or pilates. Don’t hesitate to watch some YouTube videos or to follow a work-out routine on an app.
You can get a lot done, even if it’s in your living room!
Get enough sleep.
Sleep deficiency has many health implications, and getting enough sleep is crucial to a healthy immune system.
Now’s the time to finally get in those 7-8 hours of sleep! If you’re working from home, seize this as an opportunity to sleep in a bit later.
Make sure that you also use this time indoors to rest and to do mindful activities. This will help you recharge and keep your stress levels down, which is important for optimal immunity.
What about supplements?
Some of you may be tempted to consume a bunch of supplements to try to boost your immune system.
However, if you’re eating correctly and getting in fruit and/or veggies at every meal, they shouldn’t be necessary.
The only ones that could be helpful is vitamin D, if you’re not getting out of your house and seeing the sun.
If you feel like you aren’t getting enough vitamin C-rich foods, you can also take a vitamin C supplement. Studies haven’t shown any consistent efficacy, but as long as you don’t take too much, it can’t hurt.
Of course, if you were on supplements before the virus outbreak, you should keep on taking them.
How to boost your immune system in conclusion.
Eating the right foods is super important during these times!
Make sure to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, and don’t hesitate to go for frozen ones as well. You should also be getting enough antioxidants for an optimal immune system.
It’s also important to take care of your gut health as healthy gut bacteria means a healthy immune system! Getting enough sleep and exercising is also crucial for staying healthy during this Coronavirus outbreak.
Take this time to read, watch movies, cook, spend time with your loved ones, get organized, do some introspection, pick up a hobby you’ve always wanted to do…You can also use this time to read my articles or watch my videos and improve your nutrition knowledge 😉 !
Check out my other ressources during this quarantine:
If you’re interested in nutrition, its impact on our health, and the science behind it, you should definitely read How Not to Die. In this book, Doctor Michael Greger, founder of Nutrition Facts, examines the top causes of death in America and explains how your diet can prevent— and in some cases even reverse— them. His advice is all backed by science and he writes in a very clear and entertaining way. This book isn’t a list of what you already know. It will teach you the keys to living a long healthy life, in a simple and practical way, and without spending fortunes on supplements and pills!
PLUS if you want to take it a step further, you can check out the How Not to Die Cookbook to implement the advice easily!
I'm Lucie, the nutritionist behind Edukale! If you'd like to learn more about me, click HERE !
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