Navigating the COVID-19 Outbreak
Many professional sports leagues are suspending or cancelling their seasons, varsity sports are being cancelled, offices are telling their employees to work from home and.... people's lives are at risk. It is only natural that our panic-levels are beginning to creep up.
I've been seeing a lot of posts about COVID-19 from both good sources and terrible sources! For example, the Medical Medium is giving out a free "Virus Protection Report" and I really can't roll my eyes enough. I apologize if you think that celery juice is going to protect you from COVID-19 (I still can't believe people are really out here drinking celery juice, but that's a blog post for another day).
The most important thing that you focus on in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak is to follow the advice from the World Health Organization (WHO).
I posted a tweet from Rachel Swarns on my Instagram story yesterday about some people not being able to work from home or not being able to avoid crowded environments and it's a common reality for many of us. You can't tell a Torontonian not to take the subway to work!
If this is you, follow the protection measures above from the WHO and also give your immune system the best shot at tackling anything that comes its way.
Eating so Your Immune System can Compete
I'd like to point out that taking a million supplements and even eating the right foods is not going to prevent you from getting sick from any virus or cold, so the best protection measures are the ones above from the WHO. However, I want to highlight the main nutrients that support the immune so you know which foods to eat to keep your immune system in good shape.
Nutrients of the Immune System
The main nutrients that support the immune system include Vitamin A, B6, B12, C, D, E, Folic acid, Zinc, Selenium, Iron and Copper. It's a lot of nutrients but luckily these are easily found in food sources.
Vitamin A: Dark green, yellow, red and orange vegetables & fruits. Here's an easy recipe that uses sweet potatoes. Fish, liver and dairy products are also good sources.
Vitamin B6: animal products, meatless soy products, chickpeas.
Vitamin B12: Animal products and fortified plant-based sources like soy products (If you follow a vegan diet ensure to check the nutrition facts table to make sure your products are fortified).
Vitamin C: fruits & veggies with yellow and red peppers, guava, papaya, kiwi, and oranges ranking pretty high. Orange juice is also included here.
Vitamin D: Salmon and fortified products like milk, soy beverages and margarine (check the nutrition facts table to make sure Vitamin D has been added).
Vitamin E: Nut butters, avocado, seeds, almonds, vegetable oils.
Folic acid: Dark green vegetables, legumes and fortified grain products like pasta and cereal.
Zinc: seafood, meat, legumes and seeds.
Selenium: brazil nuts, fish, eggs, meat, cheese, mushrooms, pasta … pretty much everything except fruits and vegetables contain some source of selenium!
Iron: meat, fish poultry, legumes, fortified grain products & cereals. To help you absorb plant-based sources of iron, pair the food with a food that contains vitamin C, like orange juice.
Copper: Legumes, nuts, seeds, liver and seafood.
Many of these foods contain more than one nutrients that help the immune system do its job. I recommend that you focus on eating a variety of foods. Canned and frozen options will provide the same nutrients as the fresh version, so always keep a can of chickpeas in the house!
Comments About Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
Vitamin D: Health Canada recommends that adults over 50 take a vitamin D supplement of 400IU daily. However, you can still try to include foods that contain Vitamin D in your diet because many provide tons of other benefits as well!
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is the most popular supplement when it comes to being sick. If you start taking it after you have symptoms of the common cold it probably wont do much unless you had low Vitamin C levels to begin with. However, most people can achieve optimal Vitamin C levels by eating the food sources listed above.
Zinc & Vitamin E: Taking high doses of Zinc and vitamin E for a long period of time may suppress immune function so it's important to speak with a health care provider when thinking about taking these supplements.
Probiotics: Thinking about taking probiotics? Unfortunately the evidence is just not there yet for us to be making recommendations on these products as supplements. However, if you're interested in experimenting with probiotics, yogurt and kimchi are probiotic food sources.
Eat to ensure that your immune system can compete.
GET EDUCATED! Look for credible and reliable sources of information. These are the sources I've been checking frequently: The WHO, Health Canada, and the CDC.
Wash your hands or sanitize them frequently.
Don't touch your face.
Keep surfaces clean and uncontaminated.
Avoid crowded areas.
Protect Everyone Else
Cough and sneeze into your sleeve.
Stay home if you have any symptoms.
Call your doctor and get tested if you have fever, chills, shortness of breath, or a cough.
WASH YOUR DAMN HANDS!!!
Stay safe everybody!