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how to boost immunity

By Dr. Randa Ragy, Clinical and Holistic Nutritionist at Oasis Clinics

As we are in the midst of a one in 100-year pandemic, here are some general nutritional tips on how to boost immunity to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading this virus.

By now we all understand the nature of the virus and how easily it spreads. So, let’s go over the basic measures to stay safe and run through some nutritional advice to maximize our body’s ability to fight the virus when exposed to it.

If your body is in a healthy state, it is generally stronger when it comes to fighting certain germs. There is no single food or supplement that will fend off the virus. However, you can support your immune system and ensure it’s working optimally by eating a healthy, balanced and nutrient-dense diet, regularly. Read more for tips to learn how to boost immunity through nutrition.

  • Social Distancing: We have all heard this over and over. I would still like to reiterate the importance of maintaining a two-meter barrier between everyone even those who are healthy and are not showing any symptoms. This is crucial with such a highly transmissible virus that has an incubation period of 2-14 days. Some people can be carriers transmitting the virus without having any indicative symptoms themselves.
  • Avoid public places like restaurants, cafes and gyms if they are still open where you live. These places are always packed and you are sharing many items with everybody exposing yourself to transmission hazards.
  • Practice good hygiene tips. Wash your hands with soap frequently and thoroughly for 20 seconds and avoid touching your face if you are outside. Carry hand sanitizer to disinfect trolley handles while doing your grocery shopping.
  • If you are a smoker, it’s time to quit and detox your lungs. Avoid all kinds and forms of smoking like cigarettes, cigar, shisha and even vape. Smoking increases the risk of developing infections by destroying antibodies from our bloodstream
  • Alkalize your body by starting your day with lemon water and by including many alkaline foods in your diet like fruits and veggies.
  • Stay well hydrated with water and other beneficial herbal drinks like turmeric, ginger, lemon, cinnamon, cumin seeds and honey. It’s time to start experimenting different mixes to find you favorite.
  • Cut out sugar and refined carbs that play a role in suppressing your immune system.
  • Focus on well-balanced nutritionally dense meals with a whole wide range of fruits and veggies while avoiding all processed foods that serves nothing other than being empty calories. The more variety of fruits and vegetables you consume daily, the more your body builds a broader spectrum of nutrients to boost its immune system
  • Have multiple servings of veggies, raw and cooked with all colours of the rainbow especially the ones that are rich in Vitamin C like dark leafy greens, bell peppers and cruciferous veggies
  • Eat 2 fruit servings a day where a serving is ½ a cup or one kind of fruit.  Go for the ones that are loaded with Vitamin C and flavonoids like berries, guava, kiwi and citrus fruits.
  • Ensure adequate protein intake from both animal and plant sources, making sure to fully cook animal sources. Keep your portions in check according to your individual requirement.
  • Add onions and garlic to your cooking. They both offer great antimicrobial properties. Flavour food with beneficial herbs and spices like ginger, cumin, turmeric, oregano, rosemary and thyme, to name a few.
  • Fatty acids are another essential nutrient that should be included simply by having some nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado and olives.
  • If you drink alcohol, it’s time to reduce and detox your body for a while. Alcohol suppresses the immune system by lowering some important minerals responsible for boosting immunity.
  • Keep your circulation going by staying physically active. I encourage people to actually create for themselves a routine that builds in time for exercise, it’s really important for mental health as well as physical health. Going for a run or a walk outdoors is good all round. You enjoy some fresh air and sunshine too. If you prefer to do some exercises indoors, this has become very easy nowadays with the availability of multiple YouTube exercise videos that offer everything from high intensity interval training to yoga that you can follow from the comfort of your home.
  • Get sufficient sleep of 7-8 hours a day. Quality non-interrupted sleep helps your body to heal, restore and build a stronger immune system.
  • Stay calm and practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation.
  • Avoid going to indoor places and mixing with a lot of people except for mere necessities like grocery shopping and pharmacies. If possible work from home to stay safe.

On a positive note, take the opportunity of spending a lot of time at home to bond with your small family and enjoy some activities with your kids. This will help each member of the family discover new interests and passions that you haven’t had the time to enjoy before, living in a society always on the go, leaving very little time to enjoy some simple activities. Get the family experimenting in the kitchen too. Innovate your traditional recipes to make them more nutritionally dense ones. In a nutshell, slow down your pace and enjoy the precious extra time you have now. This will provide a sense of peace and satisfaction.

Additionally, here are some supplements that could reinforce your immunity if your diet is not fully rounded:

  • Vitamin D is crucial for the overall immune health. It’s always advisable to get tested before determining your individual needed dosage. Since Vitamin D is very hard to get from food sources and we are not getting exposed to enough sun especially in the winter.  You can start with a daily dose 1000iu to be taken with food.
  • Vitamin C is another important supplement to ward off colds and boost immunity. My recommendation is to take 2000-3000 mg a day in divided doses. It is a very safe being a water-soluble vitamin
  • Zinc is the most important immune boosting mineral. It is found abundantly in sea foods like clams, oysters, crab and pumpkin seeds.  Should you need to supplement, take 20-30 mg a day during this critical period. Note that you should be tested as it has an upper limit and it can suppress other minerals in the body like copper.
  • Probiotics assist in maintaining a balanced gut microbiome, which is a vital player in how your immune system functions. There are many natural sources for probiotics like fermented veggies sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and bone broth. Supplements are also available if needed.

What also helps is considering those in need and trying to donate to food banks and shelters. This connection to other people will have great benefits to your overall health. Also, not forgetting to send a warm appreciative thankful message to all health care professionals and front line workers staying there to help and support us all.

Everyone’s safety is a priority, accordingly it is our responsibility to comply with all the measures enacted by our governments. Don’t forget it is key to stay calm and keep stress at bay. With our combined efforts as a community, society and the whole world, we can minimize the negative repercussions of this pandemic.

Stay safe, stay put. .

You can find more healthy eating tips from this link!

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