Whilst we’re still on the subject of Covid19. Despite claims to the contrary, there is no magic food or pill that is guaranteed to boost your immune system and protect you against coronavirus.
But there are ways to keep your immune system functioning at its best, which can help to keep you healthy and give you a sense of control during these uncertain and worrying times.
These include proper hand washing, maintaining good nutrition, being physically active, managing stress and getting adequate sleep. Here are some key nutrients that play a role in immunity and common food sources of them which may help us maintain good nutrition.
Carrots, kale and apricots for beta carotene
Beta carotene converts to vitamin A, which is essential for a strong immune system. It works by helping antibodies respond to toxins. Good sources of beta carotene include sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, kale, broccoli, squash and cantaloupe. Oranges, strawberries and broccoli for Vitamin C. Vitamin C increases blood levels of antibodies which in turn helps boost our immune system.
Research has suggested that higher levels of vitamin C (at least 200 milligrams) may slightly reduce the duration of cold symptoms. We can easily consume 200 milligrams of vitamin C from foods such as oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, red and green peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower.
Eggs, cheese, tofu and mushrooms for Vitamin D
Vitamin D regulates the production of a protein that can help kills infectious agents, including some bacteria and viruses. Vitamin D also alters the activity and number of white blood cells, which can reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses.
Winter associated 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. Vitamin D supplements may help to protect against acute respiratory tract infections.
Good food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, canned salmon and sardines; eggs, milk and milk products; cheese, tofu and mushrooms.
Beans, nuts, cereal and seafood for zinc
Zinc helps cells in your immune system grow. It is thought that zinc supplements may shorten the duration of symptoms of the common cold.
Sources of zinc include beans, chickpeas, lentils, tofu, nuts, seeds, wholewheat, seafood, beef, pork, dark meat poultry and yogurt. Milk, eggs and nuts for protein are a key building block for immune cells and antibodies and plays a crucial role in helping our immune system function.
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 and protein rich snacks such as roasted chickpeas.
Bananas and beans 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, as well as fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and sourdough bread.
Sources of prebiotics include whole grains, bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes and beans and water, fruit and soup for hydration Finally, we should all aim to stay hydrated. Mild dehydration can be a physical stressor to the body.
Women should aim to consume 2 litres (4 pints) of fluids daily, and men, 3 litres (6 pints) and that includes all fluids and water-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables and soups.