Never in my lifetime have I witnessed such devastating destruction resulting from one single virus. As essential healthcare personnel, along with my friends- nurses and physicians are on the front lines, providing the best medical care humanly possible to those in need. Friends and family argue the point of my presence, but this is the exact reason I am a healthcare professional to provide food and therapeutic nutritional care for those who cannot provide for themselves.
Today, we are all fighting a collective invisible entity. To defend ourselves, we are using various forms of preventative measures. The first vital defenses at this time are, social distancing/self-quarantine, strict sanitation constant hand washing, and maintaining a healthy immune system-our innate power to heal.
It was not by accident the creator’s design of the human body contains a built-in sophisticated defense mechanism to protect and fight against illnesses and infections. Today, science is calling that weapon the “immune system”/antibodies. The activation of the immune system occurs when harmful foreign substances such as a virus enter the body. Immediately, the body’s antibodies start to attack and destroy the invader through a series of actions. However, the immune system also requires support to stay healthy and active to be able to perform efficiently. At this time, more than ever, we need our innate defense mechanism to be at its peak performance to protect and or assist in the healing process from the current viral invader.
Several vital elements will help keep the immune system healthy and robust such as adequate rest, exercise, good hygiene, absence of stress, and most significant of all, a healthy diet. I want to share with you evidence-based research of vital nutrients found in foods that can both support and improve your immune health.
According to a study in Adv Nutr 2014(5) 702-711, a direct association exists with having a poor nutritional status correlating with a decrease in immune health. Therefore it is vital to achieve and maintain a functional nutritional status. Please consider choosing foods that include:
- Protein: help build antibodies and immune system cells and play an essential role in healing and recovery. Sources: Eggs, milk, yogurt, fish, lean meats, chicken, turkey, beans, soy products, and nuts, and seeds.
- Vitamin A: keeps the skin, tissues in the mouth, stomach, and intestines, and the “respiratory” system healthy, and it helps regulate the “immune system.” Sources: Colorful foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach, pumpkin, squash, and cantaloupe.
- Vitamin D: helps with properly regulating immune cell function. Sources: Fortified foods (milk, cereal, orange juice), fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna), and sunshine.
- Vitamin C: helps build healthy skin, which is a barrier to microorganisms, and helps protect cells from damage due to its role as an antioxidant. Sources: Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, tangerines) strawberries, papaya, bell peppers, and Brussels sprouts.
- Vitamin E: protects immune cells from damage due to its role as an antioxidant. Sources: Almonds, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, vegetable oil, spinach, and broccoli.
- Zinc: supports the creation of new immune cells, which contributes to the body’s ability to heal from wounds. Sources are lean meats, chicken, turkey, crab, oysters, milk, whole grains, seeds.
In essence, following a Mediterranean style of eating, a DASH Diet, Flexitarian Diet, or an Anti-Inflammatory Diet will provide you with these essential nutrients. Please, never forget, all foods work in synergy. Refer to my October Blog “Achieving the Effects of Food Synergy.” The maximin absorption and benefits of these nutrients exist by eating whole food, i.e., the vitamin C in orange will benefit the body more rather than by taking a vitamin pill or a shot as explained in the October blog. Strive to obtain nutrients through eating “whole foods” this is the exact design of “food,” not to be singled out in a pill form.
Food and human bodies are one. You are what you eat. Always remember the purpose of food is to maintain the health of the body. As we face this new global epidemic, the primary defense we have is what God provided to us at the very beginning, our innate ability to heal, our “immune system.”