As the coronavirus situation intensifies, you might be wondering how to keep yourself healthy and asking if swallowing Vitamin C tablets will protect you from getting sick? Nigerians need to be aware that despite claims they may have seen on the Internet, there’s no magic food or tablet that is guaranteed to boost your immune system and protect you against coronavirus.
There are no specific supplements that will help protect against coronavirus. People just have to be careful about what they consume for fear of contacting the virus.
But there’s uplifting news, too at this gloomy time. There are ways to keep your immune system functioning optimally, which can help to keep you healthy and give you a sense of control in an uncertain time. These include proper hand washing, maintaining good nutrition, being physically active, meditating and managing stress and getting adequate sleep.
If you want to boost your immunity, you can begin by filling your plate with immune-boosting nutrients. One of the best ways to stay healthy is to eat a nutritious diet. That’s because our immune system relies on a steady supply of nutrients to do its job. For a starter dose of immune-boosting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruits.
Here are some key nutrients that play a role in immunity, and food sources of them:
Carrots, kale and apricots for beta carotene
Beta carotene gets converted to vitamin A, which is essential for a strong immune system. It works by helping antibodies respond to toxins and foreign substances.
Good sources of beta carotene include sweet potatoes, carrots, mangoes, apricots, spinach, kale, broccoli, squash and cantaloupe.
Oranges, strawberries and broccoli for Vitamin C
Vitamin C increases blood levels of antibodies and helps to differentiate lymphocytes (white blood cells), which helps the body determine what kind of protection is needed.
Some research has suggested that higher levels of vitamin C (at least 200 milligrams) may slightly reduce the duration of cold symptoms. You can easily consume 200 milligrams of vitamin C from a combination of foods such as oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, red and green peppers, broccoli, cooked cabbage and cauliflower.
Eggs, cheese, tofu and mushrooms for Vitamin D
Vitamin D regulates the production of a protein that “selectively kills infectious agents, including bacteria and viruses,” explained Dr. Michael Holick, an expert on Vitamin D research from Boston University who has published more than 500 papers and 18 books on Vitamin D. Vitamin D also alters the activity and number of white blood cells, known as T 2 killer lymphocytes, which can reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses, Holick added.
Vitamin D deficiency from a lack of sun-induced vitamin D production can weaken the immune system, increasing the risk of developing viral infections that cause upper respiratory tract infections.
Inversely, research suggests that vitamin D supplements may help to protect against acute respiratory tract infections. Good food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, including canned fish like salmon and sardines; eggs, fortified milk and plant milk products; cheese, fortified juice, tofu and mushrooms.
And while there is no evidence to prove that vitamin D supplements will protect you from coronavirus, it’s wise to consider a D supplement if you feel you are not getting enough of this important vitamin, which can be measured by a blood test.
Beans, nuts, cereal and seafood for zinc
Zinc helps cells in your immune system grow and differentiate. One meta-analysis revealed that zinc supplements may shorten the duration of symptoms of the common cold. However, it concluded that “large high-quality trials are needed” before definitive recommendations can be made.
Sources of zinc include beans, chickpeas, lentils, tofu, fortified cereals, nuts, seeds, wheat germ, oysters, crab, lobster, beef, pork chop, dark meat poultry and yogurt.
Milk, eggs and nuts for protein
Protein is a key building block for immune cells and antibodies and plays a crucial role in helping our immune system do its job.
Protein comes from both animal and plant-based sources and includes fish, poultry, beef, milk, yogurt, eggs and cottage cheese, as well as nuts, seeds, beans and lentils. Protein-rich snacks, such as roasted chickpeas, which can be eaten in place of snacks devoid of protein, such as animal crackers are highly recommended.
Bananas, beans and more for prebiotics
Probiotics and prebiotics help boost the health of the microbiome, which in turn supports our immune system. Sources of probiotics include fermented dairy foods such as yogurt and kefir, and aged cheeses. Sources of prebiotics include whole grains, bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes and beans.
Water, fruit, soup and more for hydration
Finally, stay hydrated. Mild dehydration can be a physical stressor to the body. Women should aim to consume 2.7 liters of fluids daily, and men, 3.7 liters; an amount that includes all fluids and water-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables and soups.
■ Source: CNN health.