While everyone’s worried about hand sanitizer and toilet paper, here at MACROS HQ (i.e. our homes at the moment #selfisolation), we’re more concerned about what you should and shouldn’t be eating during COVID-19. Here are the foods to smash or pass on to boost your immune system.
SMASH: Citrus Fruits, Berries, and Capsicums
Vitamin C is one of the more widely known immune-boosting nutrients, aiding in both innate and adaptive immunity. Stock up on vitamin C rich foods like citrus fruits (lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits), berries (fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries, and mixed berries), and red capsicums to help fight COVID-19.
Alcohol intake can impact the body’s immune system by producing an overall nutritional deficiency, which deprives your body of essential immune-boosting nutrients. More importantly, excess alcohol consumption suppresses the ability of disease-fighting white blood cells to kill germs and multiply. One standard drink does not impact the immune system, however, three or more drinks do, with immune system damage increasing in proportion to the amount of alcohol consumed. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s probably best to cut it out altogether.
Turmeric gets its vibrant orange colour from the compound curcumin, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. It also boosts immune cell function and enhances antibody responses. Combining turmeric with black pepper increases your body’s ability to absorb curcumin; try adding turmeric and black pepper to soups and bone broth, or make a turmeric and black pepper latte.
PASS: Fried Foods
We know most of our MACROS tribe aren’t too into fried foods anyway, but if you were thinking of indulging in a cheat meal, it may be best to skip the deep fryer. As well as being a culprit for increased cholesterol levels, fried foods can trigger inflammation in the body, which leads to reduced immunity.
SMASH: Spinach and Kale
Leafy greens like spinach and kale provide the body with anti-inflammatory antioxidants and key nutrients like vitamins A & C, and folate, which all help immune system function. Saute some leafy greens in a little olive oil and add garlic, turmeric, and pepper for an immune-boosting side dish.
The antibodies that fight disease in our bodies are made of protein, with the macronutrient also used to repair body tissue, and fight viral and bacterial infections. The amino acids found in protein are the building blocks of our bodies’s cells, including immune system cells. Try eating protein-rich fish like hoki and barramundi, as well as lean beef, chicken, and turkey, found in our healthy MACROS meals.
PASS: Soft Drinks
Regular or diet, it doesn’t matter. Soft drinks like coke, fanta, sprite, and pepsi all provide no nutritional value whatsoever, with soft drink consumers being less likely to have an adequate intake of vitamin A, calcium, and magnesium, all essential for a healthy immune system. Also, the phosphoric acid found in soft drinks can deplete calcium and magnesium levels in the body.
SMASH: Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a rich source of vitamin E which boosts the activity of immune cells to support the body’s ability to respond to invading bacteria and viruses. 30g of sunflower seeds provides around half the daily recommended target for vitamin E. You could also try almonds or almond butter to improve your vitamin E intake.
PASS: Refined Sugar
Eating too many sugary foods can put your white blood cells into a temporary coma, suppressing the immune system’s ability to respond to challenges (like bacteria and infections). This effect lasts for several hours, so if you’re consuming sugary foods (like lollies) several times a day, your immune system could be continually functioning at a lower level.
Whole garlic contains a compound called alliin, which changes to allicin when crushed or chewed. These compounds boost the disease-fighting ability of certain white blood cells in the body, improving their response to colds and viral infections like COVID-19.
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