Now more than ever we need to manage our stress and support our immune systems by practicing thoughtful and compassionate self care.
Scientists are studying the body’s immune response to the Corona-19 virus as they race to find a vaccine and a treatment 1, but also to better understand the ability of our bodies to develop an immunity to the disease, 2 supporting evidence that we need to do everything we can to support our immune systems right now.
Doctors in Australia documented the mapping out of one immune response by studying the levels of a woman’s white blood cells and anti-body secreting cells day by day as she recovered from the infection. 3 Better understanding the body’s antibodies will give medical professionals valuable information as to who is most at risk. Also, doctors are closely studying the levels of cytokines (a protein involved in cell signaling) that have the potential to become too active in launching an extreme immune response in the body. 4 And importantly, this pandemic becomes a part of a much larger conversation around global health and disease, as well as our food production system.
According to the American Society for Nutrition “Nutrition has an important role in supporting the immune system and maintaining proper immune function, and while there is no evidence that nutrition prevents or lessens the effects of COVID-19, ASN continues to promote the importance of nutrition in overall health.” 5
It is important to make health a priority especially if you are taking care of others in your home or are the primary supporter.
Recipes to support a healthy immune system should include foods that promote antiviral, antioxidant activity and strengthen the microbiome. I strongly recommend taking a multi vitamin appropriate for your age and needs, vitamin D, B complex and probiotics. Eating healthy, along with getting sufficient sleep, hydrating with filtered water and managing stress with exercise can make a huge difference in your physical resilience and mental attitude.
- Vitamin A – Carotenoids and beta carotene act as antioxidants, keeping cell walls healthy and fighting free radicals. We absorb 70-90% from the food we eat if we include some fat in the meal and we find them in yellow, orange red fruits and veggies such as carrots, watermelon, sweet potatoes and squash. Vitamin A is also high in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel and meat liver.
- Vitamin E – is an antioxidant which helps to protect your cell membranes from oxidation. Fat soluble, it is found in nuts, seeds, plant oils and high in wheat germ. Almonds, sunflower seeds and avocados are great sources. Spinach and swiss chard include the added benefit of being high in vitamin A as well.
- Vitamin C – We absorb 70-90% from the food we eat. Offers collagen support, vascular support, immune support, and is antioxidant and anti-viral. Vitamin C is very helpful to combat adrenal fatigue when under stress. Fruits and veggies are high in vitamin C, especially peppers and citrus. If taking a supplement, we can only absorb 500 mg at a time, so if boosting your C take it at intervals, several times a day.
- Zinc – an antioxidant that works together with vitamin A (see above), helps stabilize acid base balance, assists in wound repair, cell replication and cell growth. Zinc is found in meat, seafood, whole grains, dairy, nuts beans, egg yolk, pumpkin seeds
- Vitamin D – Even though our bodies produce vitamin D from direct sunlight, most of us do not get enough for a variety of reasons, and so are deficient and need extra both in our diets and with supplements. The easiest form for our body to metabolize is from animal sources such as fatty fishes like salmon, tuna and mackerel, and eggs. Shitake mushrooms are also a great source especially for vegetarians. And I can’t emphasize enough how important a supplement is here – around 2000 IU – daily would be appropriate for most adults, but check with your doctor or functional nutritionist.
- Pro-biotics and Pre-biotics are essential for the balance of your microbiome and your overall health. Seventy percent your immune system operates out of your gut!!! 70%!! I can’t stress this enough! The gut wall lining releases antibodies and hormones that support your immune system, and block certain proteins and bacteria from entering into your blood stream. Your gut microbiome is a first defense for your lymphatic system, helps to keep the wall healthy and can even communicate with you brain. You can read more on my blog HERE. Eat foods that are high in probiotics such as yogurt and sauerkraut, and high in prebiotics such as bananas, asparagus, onion and garlic.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – The Mediterranean diet has been shown in clinical studies to be one the healthiest diets on the planet and this is attributed to its profound use of EVOO – extra virgin olive oil. I include EVOO because in addition to being super heart healthy, it also contains polyphenols, reducing agents that work together with other reducing agents, such as vitamin C, vitamin E and carotenoids, to protect the body against oxidative stress. And EVOO supports the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Want to read more?
Spending more time at home you have probably run through all those family favorites, can’t face another frozen pizza, and may not have time or energy to surf the web for that next new recipe. I have put together a mini cookbook of 10 recipes to support your immune system by being abundant in the vitamins, minerals, probiotics and nutrients most needed right now. Sign up HERE for my newsletter and you will find that recipe guide to your inbox!
Nourish, namaste and stay healthy.