Food fighters: eat these immunity boosting foods to help fight COVID-19 and the cold season
Dietician and nutritionist Claudia Vavasour shares how to build your viral immunity with these nine wholefoods.
Good nutrition is medicine for your body. You can take these natural immunity-boosting foods for you and the family to improve your health this colds and flu season.
Build your viral immunity with these nine wholefoods
With the winter cold and flu season just around the corner, and COVID-19 making itself known in New Zealand, now’s a good time to take some simple preventative measures. What better way to combat the social distancing and self-isolation than with some nourishing hearty wholefoods? Nutrition is great for building a strong and healthy immune system, so try incorporating these nine wholefood heroes into your family's diet.
Rich in Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA + DHA) which helps to reduce acute inflammation, a natural immune response to attack. Aim for several servings of oily fish each week. Think poached salmon with brown rice and sautéed seedy greens.
2. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil contains Vit E, which assists in the production of antibodies and several studies have demonstrated its resistance to infections. This makes it an easy choice, so, don’t be afraid to drizzle that salmon with some extra virgin olive oil.
Kiwifruit is a wonderful source of Vitamin C known for enhancing immune cells and cell integrity. In fact, dosing up on Vitamin C by eating lots of colourful fruits and vegetables is a great way to help reduce the severity and duration of the common cold. Aim for 7+ (fruits and vegetables) a day, including these at every meal is a sure way to achieve this target.
Are you familiar with the phrase that oysters are an aphrodisiac? That’s because of its high zinc content and it’s actually the zinc content in oysters that’s linked to improved semen quality, hence the aphrodisiac saying. Fertility aside, zinc plays many roles in the body particularly for supporting immunity. Enjoy your oysters Kilpatrick or natural and if you’re self-isolating with your partner, you may have a little surprise in 9 months’ time. Remember though, avoid all shellfish if you’re pregnant.
5. Red Meat
If you’re not so much of an oyster fan, then opt for a hearty beef stew. Also, a rich source of zinc and iron which helps oxygenate our cells for proper function and disease resistance. A beef stew is a great nourishing and comforting way to fuel our bodies, particularly with the colder weather approaching. Add loads of veggies to your stew, such as carrots, celery, tomatoes, onion, garlic, kumara and potato, that way you’ll get a hit of Vitamin C which helps to absorb that iron.
6. Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are an excellent source of selenium, a trace mineral and potent antioxidant which is essential for a strong immune system. Did you know that dietary selenium strongly influences inflammation and immune responses particularly in viral infections? With NZ soils being deficient in this trace mineral, eating 2 brazil nuts a day is a great way to hit your daily selenium target.
7. Garlic & Onion
These flavour powerhouses fight macrophages all thanks to their sulfur compounds which actually block enzymes that allow organisms to invade healthy tissue. Sautéeing onion and garlic as a base to your beef stew not only adds delicious flavour but provides good defense.
Berries contain powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins, which are key for fighting free radicals. Research suggests that the antioxidant activity of berries may protect immune cells from destructive free radicals (molecules that can harm cells and damage the DNA). The best way to get antioxidants is to eat a variety of colours in our diets. Eat the rainbow, the more variety the better.
9. Fermented foods
Providing our gut with healthy probiotics is a great way to support our immune response against viruses. Kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, yoghurt and kombucha are examples of fermented foods which can be enjoyed regularly to support healthy gut function.
So, eating a colourful Mediterranean style diet rich in fruits and veggies as a whole, will go a long way in improving our immunity. There is no one food or nutrient that can act alone, it’s the whole food approach that gives us benefit. The immune system is complicated and nutrition acts as building blocks to many cells and factors involved in healthy strong immunity.
If you’re worried your diet may not be the best thing since sliced bread, then let me help you by booking in a free chat to see how we can nourish your body with baby loving nutrients.
Claudia Vavasour BSc, PgDipDiet, NZRD
Claudia Vavasour is a mother and an experienced registered dietitian who specialises in fertility nutrition. She’s particularly passionate about nutrition for the first 1,000 days and is all about science-backed nutrition treatment. Find out more at www.fertilitynutrition.co.nz, on Insta @fertility_nutrition_nz f @fertilitynutritionnz