Multiple statements from medical experts highlight the importance of strengthening immune system to fight the current COVID-19 pandemic and other viruses. Yes, a strong immune system trumps face masks and alcohol—so please, stop hoarding them.
To boost immune system, individuals should get enough sleep, stay active (indoor exercises), maintain good personal hygiene (taking a shower, brushing teeth, washing hands are the basic), and eating immunity-boosting foods.
“While no food or supplement can ‘cure’ or even 100 percent prevent you from catching a virus like the coronavirus or the flu, some foods have been shown to help bolster immunity,” registered dietitian Cynthia Sass wrote in article published on Health Magazine.
Instead of stocking up on canned goods and processed foods, the nutrition expert recommends incorporating these food items, which can be found in supermarkets, markets, or be delivered online (Session Groceries, Homegrown Organics, for example, offer deliveries of fresh produce, among others).
Vitamin C, famous for its role in supporting and boosting the immune system, is quite rich in many citrus fruits such as orange, lemon, lime, pomelo, and grapefruit. According to Sass, while vitamin C can’t prevent illness, studies found that people with respiratory infections have improved blood levels after consuming the right amount. Consuming about 200mg of vitamin C per day has been found to be effective in infection prevention. One medium orange provides 70mg while a grapefruit has almost 90mg.
Red bell peppers
Speaking of vitamin C, this nutrient is not only present in sour fruits. In fact, red bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus, according to experts. Sass said a medium raw bell pepper has 150mg. Katherine Marengo, a registered dietitian, seconded, adding that red bell peppers are also a rich source of beta carotene that helps keep eyes and skin healthy.
Aside from vitamin C, another nutrient vital in boosting immune system is vitamin E. “This fat soluble vitamin boosts the activity of immune cells to support the body’s ability to fend off invading bacteria and viruses,” Sass wrote. Almonds and sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E. About 28 grams of almonds provide 45 percent of the daily recommended goal for vitamin E. Other foods rich in vitamin E are avocados and dark leafy vegetables.
These easily available food item is a rich source of beta carotene which, experts say, aids in producing white blood cells which fight bacteria and viruses. “It also helps form the mucous membranes that line the respiratory tract which acts as a protective barrier to keep germs out of the body,” said Sass. A single serving of baked sweet potato has more than 150 percent of daily vitamin A target. Carrot is another great source of beta carotene.
Touted for its anti-inflammatory properties, found in curcumin—the natural compound responsible for its bright color—experts say turmeric has also been found to boost immune cell activity and enhance antibody responses.
New studies reveal garlic “may enhance immune cell function,” as those who received a garlic supplement in a particular research experienced reduced cold and flu severity and had fewer symptoms than those who didn’t receive it. Meanwhile, others credit garlic’s immune-boosting properties to its heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds such as allicin which are said to boost the disease-fighting response of some types of white blood cells in the body.
Studies point to yogurt’s live active bacteria in helping enhance immunity, particularly in “immunocompromised populations such as the elderly,” researchers Simin Nikbin Meydani and Woel Kyu-Ha said in their research entitled Immunologic effects of yogurt. Some probiotics strains may enhance resistance to and recovery from infection, according to another research.
Green leafy vegetables
Vegetables such as kale and spinach are rich in anti-inflammatory antioxidants and other nutrients such as vitamins A and C and folate which are known to boost immune system.