As you sit at home doing your part to flatten the curve, you may contemplate how else you can protect yourself from COVID-19? While there is no known cure, your best defence is a strong offence! While you are still healthy, take active steps to strengthen your immune system. A robust, healthy immune system is the best guard against illness.
Lean Mean Immune Boosting Greens
Green vegetables have always been essential to a balanced diet. Broccoli, spinach, kale, peas, asparagus and more all come packed with the vitamins and minerals needed to keep your immune system in peak fighting condition. Get the most out of your greens by eating them as raw as possible. Since you are at home, take some extra time and whip up a dish of homemade vegan ranch dip to go along with them! Water and high heat will sap them of the nutrients for which they are known. If you need to cook them, avoid boiling or baking. Opt for steaming, sautéing or stir-frying instead. Try tossing in some ginger, another known immune booster, into the frying pan with them!
The Power of Vitamins
Our bodies need vitamins, but there are a few common ones that are key to the immune system. Vitamin B and C in particular play important roles. Vitamin B6, B9, and B12 contribute to the body’s initial response when a pathogen is detected. They do so by influencing the production and activity of white blood cells, the cells responsible for attacking anything which invades your system. Vitamin B6 and B9 are found in leafy greens as well as legumes and nuts. The best vegan source of Vitamin B12 include supplements, fortified nut milk, and mushrooms.
Vitamin C plays a very valuable to normal immune system function. It is already well famous for its antioxidant properties, but that’s not all! This vitamin helps activate certain enzymes that synthesize hormones and build collagen. The body cannot produce Vitamin C on its own. Those ever-impressive greens are excellent sources of vitamin C, as well as oranges, lemons, limes, Kiwi fruit and avocados, to name a few. If you are having trouble controlling your snacking now that you are home all day with your fridge, reach for a handful of berries instead of candies for a delicious Vitamin C packed snack!
Garlic has been known for its health properties for centuries, but what gives this pungent vegetable its reputation? While still whole, it contains a compound known as alliin. While it is chopped, crushed, minced or chewed, the alliin becomes allicin, which contains sulphur. The latter is very unstable, so it quickly converts to other sulphur-containing compounds. These compounds are what have been shown to increase the power of some types of white blood cells. Like green vegetables however, the process of heating garlic causes it to lose its immune benefits. To counter this, if eating cloves of raw garlic is not your thing, let your garlic stand for 10 minutes before cooking. You can also compensate by increasing the amount of garlic in your recipe!
Every Little Bit Helps
Our immune systems are our central defence against pathogens that invade our bodies. Keeping it healthy and reliable with a proper diet and a clean environment is vital. While adding certain foods alone will not stop COVID-19, it can help to keep us well as we work towards halting the spread of Coronavirus.
- Mona Butler is a freelance writer based in Vancouver, BC.
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