The body’s ability to fight off disease is directly linked to how we treat it. Do we get enough sleep, enough exercise? Are we eating the right things that provide us with the vital nutrients our immune systems rely upon?
Dr. Jan McBarron was a Registered Nurse for several years before becoming a Medical Doctor. For thirty years she has specialized in Bariatric Medicine. As an advocate for healthy eating and lifestyle, she has both clinical and personal experience transforming bodies into a healthy, disease fighting machines. For her, a big part of that is eating right.
During a pandemic, staying healthy should be a top priority. But it shouldn’t be all about just avoiding the virus. While social distancing is crucial in this pandemic, we also need to take care of ourselves. So, when we encounter a virus or a disease, COVID-19 or not, our bodies are prepared to fight. Eating a diet full of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein is step one.
Fruits and vegetables pack a punch when it comes to vitamins and minerals essential for immune function. While you may be tempted to only stock up on non-perishables, it’s important to shop the fresh food section in your grocery store. An easy way to make sure you are getting a variety of vitamins and minerals is to choose fruits and vegetables of different colours, says Dr. Jan McBarron. Orange, red, purple, green, and everything in between. Add that to healthy fats and lean sources of protein, you have a recipe for dietary success.
Consider these on your next shopping trip.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which helps fight unstable molecules called free radicals. There is some evidence that antioxidants help prevent complications from the common cold and flu, such as pneumonia. In the age of COVID-19, a virus that attacks the lungs, antioxidants are powerful. Add some food rich in vitamin C to your shopping basket on your next run:
- Citrus fruit (oranges, grapefruit, lemon and lime)
- Broccoli and cauliflower
- Sweet potatoes
Like Vitamin C, Vitamin E is also an antioxidant. It, too, combats free radicals in the body, protecting cells from damage. Vitamin E is fat-soluble, which means it is best absorbed through foods that also contain healthy fats. Dr. Jan McBarron recommends these to boost Vitamin E intake:
- Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts)
- Sunflower seeds
Zinc is an essential mineral found throughout the human body. It aids in immune and metabolic functions. Most people get enough of the mineral through their diet, but it is important to note that even a slight deficiency has been shown to negatively impact the immune system’s efficacy in combating illness, says Dr. McBarron. Foods rich in zinc include:
- Meat and shellfish (Beef, oysters, crabmeat)
- Lentils and beans
- Dark chocolate (in moderation)
Dr. McBarron reminds individuals that whatever your diet, it’s imperative to obtain the necessary amount of nutrients during this time to ensure a high level of energy and cognitive function, also known as clear thinking.