You have heard to wear your face mask, wash your hands, and keep your distance, but nutritionists say there are several things we can be doing and eating to keep our risks for COVID-19 low and our immunity high.
Masks? Check. Clean hands? Check.
“Then, we have things like pickles and sauerkraut,” said Cooper City nutritionist Meryl Brandwein. She said there is a lot of talk about supporting the immune system with vitamins C and D, but not much is discussed regarding the important of gut health.
Health experts say about 70-80% of our immune system is in our gut. It absorbs the nutrients that support our body, so protecting ourselves from the coronavirus involves our digestive system. Brandwein says the first thing to do is to watch the sugar.
“Sugar is the enemy on so many levels, and especially processed sugar, sugar that is found in soda, sugar that is found in packaged goods, baked goods, cake, cookies, candy bars," Brandwein said. "And a lot of people are turning to those foods now because they’re anxious."
Too much sugar can have negative effects on our body, so what should we reach for instead?
- Root vegetables, such as squashes
- Probiotics (live bacteria that have health benefits) - fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, supplements
- Prebiotics (Food for probiotics. All whole plant foods contains prebiotics) - beans, asparagus, garlic, onions, banana, oats, apple, flax
- Vitamin C food sources - Orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, kiwi, pineapple, guava, mango, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry; green, yellow, orange or red bell peppers; cauliflower, tomato
- Zinc food sources - Legumes and beans, such as lentils, chickpeas; seeds like sesame, pumpkin, hemp, quinoa; and shellfish like shrimp and oysters
- Dark chocolate
- Nuts - cashews, almonds, pine nuts
- Animal protein - chicken thighs, grass-fed beef, liver, venison
- Vitamin D3 sources - Wild caught fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel; Pastured eggs (pastured eggs' vitamin D levels are three to four times higher than non-pastured eggs); D3 supplements (active form of vitamin D); Mushrooms (lesser amounts - will depend on UV exposure)
“We know there is a GI (gastrointestinal system) component to what we’re seeing with COVID symptoms, and so the more robust we can keep that system, the healthier our overall systems will be,” Brandwein said.
She said it’s not just feeding our bodies. It’s the mind, body, soul connection, so watch your stress levels and get enough sleep.
“It’s the overall big picture that is going to keep us healthy and support during this whole pandemic,” Brandwein said.