Covid-19: Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations to Strengthen Immunity

First let's dig into some of the basics about the Coronavirus and why taking certain precautions is essential. The Coronavirus currently looks to have a much higher fatality rate than the common flu [1]. The part that seems to have everyone in a scare and probably one of the main causes for its rapid spreading across the world is the fact that it’s incubation period is quite long, typically ranging anywhere from 2 to 14 days but has also been seen to last up to 24 days! [2] The problem with this is that you can be infected for quite some time before symptoms begin to appear. So here you are symptom free, living out your daily life as normal, unknowingly spreading the infection to your friend, brother, grandma, mail man, half your gym class and the lady at the checkout stand (not to mention a number of people who use the same credit card machine after you). [3]

This is why it is SO IMPORTANT to practice healthy sleeping, eating and lifestyle habits, wash your hands and follow the advice of social distancing and quarantine, even if you do not feel sick at the current moment. You may feel perfectly healthy but unfortunately unknown trouble may be brewing inside. And even if your immune system is strong enough to fight off this virus, your parents or your grandparents may not.

To be perfectly clear, the advice given below is simply to help strengthen your immune system in hopes of reducing the severity and length of time of illness. It is in no way a plan to completely prevent illness. Our understanding of COVID-19 is still very limited and it will take much more time and research before a possible cure or treatment will be available. It is very important to continue adhering to advice given from the CDC concerning social distancing, avoiding touching your face and thorough hand washing to prevent the spread of this virus.

1 - Increase Vitamin and Mineral Consumption through whole foods:

  • Colorful plant foods - The more colors on your plate the better! A wide variety of fruits and vegetables means a wide range of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. These nutrients all help support the immune system and phytochemicals may contain some very important antiviral activities [5].

  • Glutathione - This antioxidant is shown to be a key player in protecting and regulating lung immunity. Glutathione may help in preventing sepsis by directing immune cells away from the lungs (where they cause ARDS) and back towards the site of infection to kill bacteria. [4] To add some insight here, this is huge because one cause of death from COVID - 19 is the development of sepsis. To increase production of the antioxidant Glutathione, ingest foods high in Cysteine and Glycine - These would be found in spinach, pastured poultry, seafood and legumes and consider possible supplementation of Glutathione and NAC.

  • Vitamin D - New evidence suggests that vitamin D plays a large role in regulating immune system responses to viral infections [6]. Foods high in vitamin D would be salmon, tuna, egg yolks, liver, cod liver oil and mushrooms (which are the only good plant based source). Getting your bare skin out into the sunshine is also another great option to up your Vitamin D levels along with your happiness!

  • Zinc - This amazing mineral is one of my number one go to’s anytime illness or infection is at play and has shown some promising insights for coronavirus [7]. Zinc is a cofactor in over 300 enzymatic functions affecting the immune system [8]. Because the body does not hold onto Zinc efficiently, it should be acquired through daily diet. Good sources of zinc include oysters, grass-fed red meat and almonds. You may also supplement with good quality zinc but take extra caution as zinc can cause stomach upset especially if taken in too high of doses or on an empty stomach.

  • Vitamin C - has been shown to help in cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome and in pneumonia which can be a potential effect of COVID-19 [9]. Vitamin C also helps in decreasing inflammation [10]. Vitamin C can be found in many of your colorful fruits and veggies.

  • Probiotics - Probiotics have been shown to ‘reduce the duration of illness in healthy children and adults who develop common acute respiratory infectious conditions’ [11]. You can obtain probiotics by consuming fermented foods and drinks or by taking a spore-based probiotic.

2 - Exercise, sweat and hydrate

moderate intensity exercise has been shown to improve immune function and potentially reduce severity of respiratory viral infections [12]. However high intensity exercise has been shown to cause immunosuppression, so potentially avoiding those overexertions until optimal health has been established may be beneficial, at least for the time being.

3 - Get enough sleep

Sleep and immunity are interconnected. You need enough good quality sleep to have a healthy immune system [13].

4 - Get rid of the processed carbs and refined fats

high amounts of these processed, rancid foods can degrade our stomach microbiome and in return create negative impacts on our immune systems [14]. These highly processed carbohydrates and sugars also create a spike in blood sugar (hyperglycemia) which can ‘significantly alter immune responses to infection’ [15].

The bottom line here is to simply eat healthy and take care of your body. Honestly these are things we should all be doing everyday but they are especially important during this unknown time. On top of all of this, keep calm and don't panic. But please, be informed and cautious. Listen to and follow advice from the state and federal levels. Do your part to help stop the spread of this virus and hopefully we can avoid an overload on our healthcare systems.

















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