By Jonesa Rodriguez - March 17, 2020
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread throughout the world and have an impact on many communities, the rising concern has been – how to stay protected? Many are taking precautionary measures such as handwashing, keeping a distance from others, canceling travel plans and simply staying home. These are good preventive measures that help in reducing the risk of catching the virus, but many are forgetting one important element – building a strong immune system.
Coronavirus doesn’t discriminate, anyone can be affected. Building a strong immune system is the most important key in the protection against the virus, especially for those who are immunocompromised. The body’s ability to fight infection and disease depends on the immune system, which consists of cells, tissue and organs. Boosting the immune system cannot be done overnight, the best way to start is by incorporating specific foods into your diet that help in strengthening the body’s immune response.
Foods high in vitamins A, C, D, E and zinc support the immune system according to Allison Pingel, registered dietitian at Moffitt Cancer Center. Foods such as broccoli, berries, garlic, ginger and spinach are just some of the boosters that contain high amounts of these vitamins and assist the body in fighting infections. Studies have also shown that eating foods like yogurt and nuts are good sources for getting probiotics and zinc, which are essential for good immune health.
“It is important to note that these nutrients do not have an immediate effect of boosting one’s immune system,” Pingel said, “These vitamins and minerals are involved in the body’s immunity/immune response and each plays an important role in physiologic responses that indirectly affect the immune system.”
Pingel suggests striving to consume the recommended amounts of these nutrients daily, adding that fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of nutrients and current recommendations by the American Institute for Cancer Research are to consume one and a half to two cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables daily.
While many are in panic mode, trying to find a quick fix, it is important to know that supplements may not be the solution to quickly building the immune system.
“Fruits and vegetables are a more economical and nutritious way to obtain your necessary vitamins and minerals as well as other nutrients that are healthful such as fiber,” said Pingel. “A multivitamin can fill in the gaps if you feel as though your diet is lacking, but unfortunately the FDA does not evaluate the quality of supplements or assess their effects on the body.”
For the body to fight off viruses, one’s immunity must be strong. Adopting a healthy diet, containing fruits and vegetables is the key to attaining immunity strength. Although boosting the immune system cannot be completed overnight, it is never too late to make the necessary changes. On your next trip to the grocery store, don’t forget to stop by the fruit and vegetable aisle and begin your immune building journey!