Boost that Immune System, Baby!
Ohhhh, so we all want to boost our immune system right now, huh? Well, one of the best ways to boost your immune system is to STAY ACTIVE. I am leading Iron Strength Training classes next week in my FREE Facebook Community at 6pm EST on Monday, Thursday and Friday so you should totally join!
And in addition to stay active during the quarantine crisis, pandemic panic, whatever ya wana call it... we should be eating a healthy diet!! Yesssss, it is SO tempting to just lay on the coach eating Doritos and Ben & Jerry's RN. I am stressed AF. Like - not sleeping at night level stressed out. I just have a lot of feelings about all this. Feeling about how cavalier some people are taking it, feelings about our government, feelings about all the death.
BUT. I am also deeply proud. Proud that New Yorkers pulled their 'ish together and shut down gyms, parties, Broadway, bars and restaurants. I'm proud that people are using Social Media for good. My instagram is loaded with tips on how to stay sane in this craziness. I'm proud that people were kind and patient to one another in Trader Joe's the last time I went. I'm proud that there are people out there spreading the word that social distancing is important, it saves lives and it is not optional.
And while I am in my feelingsss, I am not using food to cope. I'm eating my usual amount of chocolate (lol), I've been cooking home more than ever (which I actually love - and you should check out this post for easy, delish, nutrient dense meals you can make at home RN).
Let's talk about your diet and your immune system, k?
First of all, unless you want your pee to cost more than your coffee, just skip the vitamin C supplements. They're worthless. You can easily eat enough vitamin C just by having two generous servings of citrus or red bell peppers. Vitamin C is abundant in most fruits and veggies (spinach, avocado, bananas, berries) and does boost your immune system IF you're deficient.
AND here's the thang. Running hard and/or long is stressful on the bod and vitamin C benefits us anyway because it can help us reduce inflammation (I like to think of inflammation like "fire in the body") after a hard workout (1). So we should always be eating a diet rich in vitamin C because our bodies need it more than the average couch potato's. Vitamin C helps our immune system by boosting the function and production of our immune system's cels! However, vitamin C has not been linked with reducing your chance of catching Coronavirus.
Again, this is not a Coronavirus specific recommendation, but eating probiotics is SO good for our immune system!! Probiotics are the healthy bacteria found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Probiotics are thought to boost our immune system by activating our "mucosal immune system," upregulating the production of immune cells and by reducing the growth of harmful "pathogenic" bacteria. (2)
During this nutso time, make sure you're adding fermented yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, or some other probiotic rich food to your routine. Take a probiotic if you want too!
Vitamin D supplementation is not a bad idea right now. First of all, we have not been able to absorb vitamin D from the sun here in the northeast during the winter months. Second of all, vitamin D deficiency is superrrr common and vitamin D is not rich in the diet. Yes, certain foods like cereals and dairy products are fortified with Vitamin D, and egg yolks and fatty fish (especially if you eat the bones) like salmon and tuna have vitamin D naturally occurring, but there's a good chance you could be deficient. Vitamin D receptors are found on our body's immune cells and vitamin D deficiency has been linked with increased incidence of developing infections and autoimmune conditions. Again, this is not specific to Coronavirus, but a healthy immune system is worth EVERYTHING right now!
So besides eating canned salmon, tuna and egg yolks, I love this supplement which is rich in Omega -3 and Vitamin D.
Last, but not least, is zinc. Once again, those who will benefit from zinc are those who are potentially deficient. However, the foods rich in zinc happen to taste pretty freakin great, and they're awesome for you, so I'll recommend them either way!
You're at risk for a zinc deficiency if you have issues with absorption (umm, you have diarrhea on the reg/recently experienced diarrhea), you have suffered from a recent trauma (think - surgery, a burn, collision), you're on ACE-inhibitor meds, or you are elderly (our absorption of zinc decreases as we age and our stomach becomes less acidic). Vegetarians are also at risk for deficiency because meat is a really good, bioavailable source of zinc!
While beans have zinc, they also have phytates which reduce the body's ability to bind and absorb zinc. You can sprout or soak your beans/legumes overnight to reduce the phytic acid content to improve zinc absorption. Other foods which are awesome sources of zinc include oysters, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds and dark chocolate.
Personally, I get a whole lotta zinc from hemp seeds and dark chocolate. I have a few squares of very dark chocolate almost every night and I put hemp seeds on yogurt and in oatmeal and smoothies.
How are you changing up your diet to boost your immune system??