As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the country as well as around the world, it’s important to put in consideration proper measures to maintain proper nutrition to boost immunity.
There is a wide range of both macro and micronutrients that can help in supporting the immune system so that it can work normally and fight infections.
By using locally available foods, it is possible to have a nutrient adequate diet that will help in boosting the immunity and maintaining proper health during this quarantine period. Some of the nutrients one can include in the diet to help with the immune system include;
- Iron: This is a crucial micronutrient mostly found in red meat, pulses, nuts, fish, wholemeal bread, and dried fruits. It will help in maintaining the health of the immune cells in order to fight infections in the body effectively.
- Selenium: Often found in nuts and seeds such as cashew nuts, eggs, fish. It is important in producing new immune cells and also strengthening the response to infections. The antioxidant will also help lower oxidative stress in the body and reduce inflammatory effects.
- Zinc: It is very essential in the body and normally found in foods such as meat, poultry, cheese, nuts and seeds in particular pumpkin seeds, whole grain breakfast cereals. Zinc will aid in the production of new immune cells as well as help develop natural fighting agents in the body that fight off viruses.
- Folate: it is mostly found in foods such as green vegetables, pulses, oranges, nuts health of the immune cells in the body so that they are able to fight off minor infections.
- Vitamin C: Biologically, Vitamin C is very important in boosting immunity. It is present in citrus fruits, strawberries, green vegetables, papaya, and tomatoes. It will help maintain the skin which is the first line of defense against any infection. Also, it will help clear worn-out cells from the site of infection and help the immune cells attack any pathogenic agent.
- Vitamin A: It is commonly found in whole milk, cheese and liver as retinol which is a pre-formed form of vitamin A. In addition, it is present in dark green leafy vegetables and orange-colored fruits and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, papaya that will provide carotenoids which will be converted to Vitamin A by the body. Vitamin A will help support the T- cells which are a type of white blood cell present in the body that helps in identifying pathogens causing infections.
- Vitamin B12: Present in meat, fish, cheese, eggs, fortified breakfast cereal among other sources. It will help in producing new immune cells replacing the old and worn-out cells.
- Vitamin B6: It is found in sources such as poultry, fish, egg yolk, soya beans, avocado, bananas and some vegetables such as green pepper. Vitamin B6 will help in producing new immune cells as well as metabolizing antibodies that are important to the immune system.
It is important to also include Vitamin D that can be easily obtained from sunlight. Other sources will include fatty fish, egg yolk, fortified cereals. Vitamin D is important in the diet because reduced levels of vitamin D will reduce the immune response.
Despite the many myths and contradictions about how different foods and supplements can help prevent the virus, by using locally available foods it is possible to have a diet that will help in boosting the immune levels in order to prevent infections that can be underlying factors making one vulnerable to the disease.