Everything! We all know how important it is to eat clean, whole foods instead of packaged ones, include as many nutrients as possible at our meals, cook at home more, avoid pesticides and GMO’s and drink water like it is your unpaid job…but now it is more essential than ever. Studies universally conclude that the single leading predictor of all cause mortality is DIET, so during the Covid-19 outbreak we must prioritize our diet. People with heart disease, diabetes, asthma and lung disease are in a dangerously high risk category should they contract Covid, and all of these health conditions directly correlate to what foods they consume.
Top infectious disease doctor Dr. Fauci recommends foods rich in Vitamin C, D and Zinc. Those vitamins in particular are important for strengthening our immune system. Many western doctors do not give nutrition the attention it deserves when treating their patients, so I was ecstatic to hear Dr. Fauci urging Americans to embrace a healthy diet during the pandemic. Foods like spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes and bell peppers are high in Vitamin C. To boost your Vitamin D intake start eating salmon and tuna, eggs, plain Greek yogurt, almond milk and fortified whole grain cereals. Sources for Zinc include eggs, whole grains, lean meat and nuts.
Fighting inflammation is also a key factor to keeping your immune system healthy. Foods that are processed (basically all white flour), sugar, soda and alcohol promote inflammation and create harmful bacteria in your gut. Cooking with anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, ginger, garlic, black pepper, rosemary, cinnamon and lemon juice will help reduce inflammation while enhancing the flavor of your meal. Yes, it’s that simple. A dinner of salmon with olive oil and lemon, roasted sweet potatoes with rosemary, and sautéed spinach with garlic will check all the boxes — and tastes delicious too.
You should also increase your fiber intake to support your gut health. Gastrointestinal issues aggravate your immune system, leaving you depleted and susceptible to illness. Adding foods like flax, hemp and chia seeds to your smoothies are an easy way to get more fiber first thing in the morning. Be sure to drink plenty of water to help flush out your system and to avoid becoming bloated or constipated from the additional fiber in your diet.
The bottom line is that throughout the world, diets that are high in “plants” such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains are linked to cultures with the greatest longevity. The typical “Mediterranean style diet” is the perfect model to follow. Countries that consume more animal products, artificial chemicals (such as High Fructose Corn Syrup and Partially Hydrogenated Oils), and packaged foods generally do not have a healthy population of elder people. Sadly, this group has been hard hit during the pandemic and are also at a higher risk for contracting the influenza virus during the winter months. The Mediterranean diet will boost your immune system at ANY age. During Covid, the simplest way to help safeguard your health is to prioritize your diet. Wash your hands frequently, wear a mask, socially distance and be mindful of everything you put into your body. Be safe!