Flu season is upon us. But this year not only do we need to worry about colds and the flu, but now there is the coronavirus (COVID-19). Coronaviruses in general are viruses that are spread between animals and humans. COVID-19 is a new type of coronavirus that was recently discovered in Wuhan, China.
These are the main symptoms:
- Dry Cough
- Shortness of breath
This virus is spreading all across the world and is very concerning. So what are some steps we can take to try to prevent a virus?
We are aware of the usual virus preventions tips:
- Washing your hands
- Try not to touch your face
- Sanitize your phone and other surfaces on a regular basis
- Use hand sanitizer when you can’t wash your hands
- Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing
But I also wanted to find out what foods we could add to our diet to help prevent viruses as well. A healthy immune system can help reduce the risk of getting a virus and a healthy immune system first starts with a good diet. There is a laundry list of fruits and vegetables that help boost the immune system and during times like this it is wise to definitely up your intake of both. But here are just a few easy additions that you can add to and some foods to remove from your diet to help boost your immune system.
Foods to Add to Your Diet
Garlic & Onions
Garlic and onions are not only good for adding flavor to your food, but they also have powerful immune boosting properties .They are both in the same family. Allicin is one of the main ingredients in garlic that has immunity boosting benefits and quercetin is a main ingredient in onions. They are well known for having antibacterial and antiviral properties, which is exactly what we all need during this time. One study shows that garlic can reduce the occurrence and severity of colds and the flu.
Garlic and onions are an easy addition to most meals. I usually add garlic when I make roasted asparagus or add both when doing a vegetable stir fry. Recently I started taking garlic capsules. Even though I eat garlic, I don’t like the smell of garlic, so I figured would be a good odorless option that would up my garlic intake. As always please consult a doctor before taking any new vitamins or supplements.
Ginger is usually well known for helping ease stomach and digestion issues, but it is also great for your immune system as well. This study shows that ginger helps reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which in turn helps the immune system function better. Like garlic and onions ginger can get added to a vegetable stir fry, chicken dishes and many other recipes. What I enjoy most is adding a piece of ginger to the green juice I make each week. It has a great fragrance and adds a little spice to anything it is included in. Ginger tea is also another tasty option.
Green tea is a something I drink every morning. This tea contains catechins which are antioxidants that give green tea most of its health benefits. Like garlic and onions green tea has antiviral properties as well, so why not add it to your morning routine.
Food You Should Reduce
Sugary Food & Drinks
Sugar tastes sweet, but it is not sweet for your immune system. High sugar intake not only suppresses the immune system, but it also causes inflammation in the body. Inflammation causes stress to your body. This causes your body to focus on the inflammation instead of focusing on fighting unwanted viruses. So instead of going for refined sugars, substitute fruit as a healthy option. When it comes to drinks ditch the soda and sugary juices and opt for more natural drink choices like water, tea and 100% juice, which has no added sugars.
Simple Carbs & Processed Food
Even though simple carbs and processed foods are not known as sugary foods, they do break down in the body as sugar. This causes inflammation as well. Also they don’t provide any nutritional value to your diet, which will not help combat any illness. So try to reduce the amount of white bread, white rice, chips, breakfast cereals and other unhealthy packaged foods. Instead replace these foods with complex carb alternatives like brown rice, quinoa, whole grain bread, beans, oats, sweet potato, fruits and vegetables.
Heavy alcohol consumption can compromise the immune system. There are also a lot of alcoholic beverages that have a high sugar content as well, which is what you want to avoid. Having a drink here and there shouldn’t be a big deal, but binge drinking and having generous amounts of alcohol on a daily basis probably would not be the best idea.
Even though this is not part of a diet I can’t leave this out. Not only is smoking a contributing factor in multiple diseases, it also is terrible for the immune system. This makes smokers more susceptible to viruses along with a lot of other things. So if you were ever considering quitting, now would definitely be the perfect time.
I hope this helps keep you healthy and virus free this year.
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