COVID-19 — Nutrients to Stop the Storm
This infection has taken the lives of over a million people around the world. Preventing and treating it involves wearing a mask, washing hands, keeping a safe distance from others, taking medications and supplemental oxygen.
What has been overlooked is the ability of a healthy lifestyle to deal with this illness. Getting proper sleep is likely the #1 lifestyle method to prevent an infection. Daily exercise and proper nutrition are also important.
This article will explain which nutrients are the key to a healthy immune system.
The Immune System
Do you have 40 hours to learn about the complicated immune system? Likely, you do not. Here is a brief overview that will demonstrate the power of the COVID-19 virus:
Step 1: COVID-19 virus invades the body with an antigen on its side.
Step 2: Immune cells called phagocytes eat the virus, identify the antigen and tell another type of immune cell called lymphocytes.
Step 3: The lymphocytes go to infected cells to kill the virus and produce antibodies (cells that remember how to kill off the virus if it comes by again).
Step 4: COVID-19 can kill lymphocytes and reduce their ability to identify the antigen. As more cells get infected, the body sends out immune cells called cytokines to try to kill the virus. This is called the Cytokine Storm. (So that is what the title meant).
This long-time or chronic inflammation damages body tissues leading to cells dying and loss of function in affected tissues, e.g. lungs.
That is one reason why individuals with obesity or a chronic disease such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, etc. have a harder time with the infection. They are already in a state of chronic inflammation due to their illness.
You do not want to get this virus, and if you do, you want to survive it. Next, you will learn which nutrients can help.
Macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrate) play a role in keeping our immune systems healthy.
Antibodies are proteins so if someone does not eat enough protein, their immune system will be weaker.
For the immune system to function best eat complete proteins, from animal products or combined plant proteins, that provide all the essential amino acids. Another word for this is High Biological Value (HBV) proteins.
Saturated fats, industry-made trans fats, and cholesterol are pro-inflammatory. Omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory — hello, fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts!!!
Note that omega-3 supplements are pro-inflammatory. Pro-inflammatory is NOT good. Think Cytokine Storm!
Processed carbohydrates are not good for the immune system. Fibre-rich carbohydrates are best. No surprise there. But you might not have known the power of fibre in preventing infections. Fibre helps in the production of healthy bacteria in the large intestine, which protect our whole digestive tract. Plus, these bacteria produce substances that can travel all over the body to help our immune system battle viruses.
Top 15 Nutrients to Fight Covid-19
Yes, many nutrients help our immune system function.
When you hear antioxidants, what nutrients do you think of? Perhaps Vitamin C? Antioxidants also include Vitamin A, Beta-carotene, flavonoids, Vitamin E, Selenium, and others.
How do antioxidants work?
Our bodies produce free radicals through normal metabolism and exercise. We can also get free radicals through unhealthy ways such as smoking, excessive alcohol, radiation, unhealthy diets and the COVID-19 virus, to name a few. A free radical has an unpaired electron and tries to grab one from our cells which makes our cells unstable and die. But antioxidants save the day by providing an electron to the free radical.
Besides these antioxidants, other nutrients play a role in a robust immune system.
Zinc, Vitamin B6, Folate, and Vitamin B12 help develop immune cells. Vitamin D interferes with the replication of the virus. Copper prevents damage to the DNA of new cells. Iron helps produce healthy DNA cells and regulates cytokine production.
Actual Foods that Contain These Nutrients
Can you think of meals that you could provide to your customers, clients and patients that would support a strong immune system?
Perhaps a Power Bowl with salmon; walnuts; apple slices; pumpkin seeds; barley; black beans; and sweet potato; on a bed of leafy greens. Then drizzle on this flaxseed oil dressing:
Flaxseed Oil Dressing
- ¼ cup flaxseed oil
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- One tablespoon honey
- One tablespoon Dijon mustard
- One clove garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
The COVID-19 virus can destroy our immune system’s ability to fight. We need all the help we can get. Hopefully, you can add a few more nutrients to your cooking to help prevent COVID-19 in your body and others who eat the food you prepare for them.
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