Medical professionals recommend social distancing, frequent hand washing, and not touching your face in order to minimize the spread of coronavirus. But what else can you do to boost your body’s natural defense system against colds, flu, and viruses in general? Here are some tips for building up your immunity through diet and nutrition:
1. Eat foods with antiviral properties – garlic is a powerhouse for inhibiting viruses, bacteria, parasites, and the common cold. Along with ginger and members of the onion family, garlic enhances the immune system and also has a warming and detoxifying effect on the body.
2. Add foods that resolve mucus and phlegm – lemons and radishes are beneficial for clearing sinuses, phlegm, coughs and sore throats. Lemons have antiseptic and anti-microbial properties, and regular consumption of radishes can help to prevent viral infections.
3. Try herbs and supplements – oregano oil has many of the same antiseptic, antiviral, and antifungal properties as garlic and is protective against colds and flus. Grapefruit seed extract is a natural, potent supplement that inhibits bacteria, viruses and parasites. Cayenne pepper is warming and helps to move qi, while black pepper is beneficial for the lungs and helps to protect against viral infections.
4. Consume a whole foods, plant-based diet – eating a variety of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts provides a good source of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Mushrooms are natural immune-boosters, in particular the shiitake variety.
5. Support your gut health – having diverse gut flora and a healthy digestive system is essential for the proper functioning of immunity. In addition to eating a plant-based diet and minimizing refined foods and sugars, you can support gut health by eating prebiotic fiber, probiotic supplements, and fermented foods.
Adopting a holistic approach is the key to staying healthy. Eat well, hydrate, exercise, and get adequate sleep – and also make sure to minimize stress and take care of your mental health. The mind-body connection is a critical component for proper functioning of your immune system. In addition, spend time outdoors in nature; the healing effect of fresh air, sunshine, and good qi can do wonders for both your physical and emotional well-being.
Pitchford, P. 2002. Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. 3rd ed. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.
Photo by: Dominik Martin on Unsplash