Foods For Your Immune System to Start Eating Now

Make sure your body is in the best shape possible.

By Toni Gasparis
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What Foods You Should & Shouldn’t Eat During the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak (2:56)

You’ve been told to wash your hands and stay away from large groups of people, but is there anything else proactive you can do to protect yourself from the coronavirus? Turns out, the foods you eat may have an impact on how well-equipped your body is to fight it off — or any virus that comes its way. By eating foods that support your immune system now, you can strengthen your body’s defense system for the future.

Chief wellness officer and emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Michael Roizen, and author of What to Eat When, visited The Dr. Oz Show on Mar. 13, 2020 to discuss which foods to eat and which to avoid to protect your body.

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What to Eat

This might sound obvious, but eating healthy and clean is your best bet. When you feed your body nutrient-rich foods, you keep it in the best shape possible to fight off illness — whether it’s COVID-19, the flu, or a common cold. Dr. Roizen recommends plant-based foods as well as citrus fruits, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables, and omega fats with odd numbers, like omega-3s found in salmon, chia seeds, and flax seeds and omega-9s in olive oil, walnuts, and almonds.

All of these foods help decrease inflammation in your body, which could be an important in the defense against COVID-19. You should also stay up-to-date on your vitamin intake. Especially vitamin C, which is vital for immune cell function, according to Dr. Roizen.

What to Avoid

Dr. Roizen advises to avoid processed foods, red meat, and added sugars. All of these foods may increase inflammation in our bodies which can “make it more difficult for us to fight the good battle,” he says.

Additionally, think about staying away from shellfish and sushi for the time being. These foods can carry parasites or other viruses, which could weaken your immune response.

Why You Shouldn’t Share Food

During the coronavirus pandemic, sharing is not caring. Avoid nuts at bars, sharing popcorn at the movies, catered lunches at work, and any food going into your mouth that others could have touched. These “hand-to-mouth” foods, as Dr. Oz calls them, can be dangerous since it’s a very easy way for the virus to spread.

Try and avoid free samples from the grocery store or a big-box store, as the same hand-to-mouth rule applies. Many stores, like some Costco locations have already announced they are pausing the distribution of free samples for the time being.

Be Careful at Grocery Stores

If you’ve gone grocery shopping recently, you’ve probably noticed hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes available; use them. Before shopping, wipe down your shopping cart handle and after shopping wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.

Take other precautions from guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and apply them to your shopping scenario. Try and visit the grocery store at “off hours” to minimize the amount of people you’re around. If self-check out is available, use it to prevent person-to-person interaction.

When you get home, remember to wash your hands. Additionally, while not officially proven effective against the spread of coronavirus, you can wipe down the items you purchased before putting them away. While the main method of spreading COVID-19 is through person-to-person contact, research has shown the virus can live on other surfaces. Wash your fruits and vegetables with soap and water and wipe down non-porous containers before storing.

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Article written by Toni Gasparis