Boost your Immune System

immune system

By Marisa Morales, Nutrition Peer Counselor

A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. confirmed its first case of the coronavirus, seen in a Solano County resident being treated at the UC Davis Medical Center. The world first began seeing cases of this viral illness at the beginning of the new year. It initiated in China but has since made its way across the country and onto other continents. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent and nothing to treat this virus, but there are some foods one can eat to reduce the risk of becoming ill. Here is a list of key nutrients to help boost your immune system:

    • Vitamin A– promotes the integrity of epithelial cells and respiratory and intestinal mucus which act as a first line of defense against pathogens
      • Food sources: carrots, sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, eggs, or fortified milks and cereals that are labeled “Vitamin A fortified”
    • Vitamin C– promotes epithelial integrity and is an antioxidant that can protect from oxidative stress
      • Food sources: oranges, strawberries, papayas, tomato juice, and grapefruit
    • Vitamin E– an antioxidant that protects the healthy fats (polyunsaturated fats) found in our cell’s membrane and neutralizes dangerous free radicals
      • Food sources: sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, and vegetable oils
    • Selenium– plays an important role in inflammation and immunity
      • Food sources: brazil nuts, sardines, and garlic
    • Zinc– keeps the immune system strong and promotes wound healing
      • Food sources: lean meat, poultry, seafood, beans, and whole grains
    • Protein– provides energy and building blocks for the body to heal and recover from damage done by pathogens
      • Food sources: lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, and peas

Although nutrition is very important for your body’s health, I encourage everyone to take other precautions to reduce their risk of becoming infected. The following recommendations come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website:

    • Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
      • If no soap or water is available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
    • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth
    • Cover mouth when coughing or sneezing, throw away tissues right away
    • Stay home if you feel ill
    • Disinfect frequently touched items

Be aware that face masks do not prevent one from getting sick! It is more important that face masks are worn by those who are experiencing symptoms of the virus to help keep it from spreading.

In case of quarantine, it can be helpful to stock up on 30 days of non-perishable items such as canned goods, granola bars, etc.

Sources:
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/non-perishable-food
https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/preventing-illness/protect-your-health-with-immune-boosting-nutrition
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/eat-these-foods-to-boost-your-immune-system/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6162863/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29099763
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html

 

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