As cases of the deadly coronavirus continue to soar, Americans are washing their hands, social distancing, and getting enough sleep and exercise to boost their immune system and reduce the risk of infections.
But experts say that maintaining a healthy diet can also give you an edge, although no foods have been specifically targeted to ward off COVID-19, according to CNBC.
"Our immune system relies on several factors to fight and combat bacteria, viruses and other invaders,” Dr. David Friedman, the No. 1. bestselling author and syndicated radio and television expert, tells Newsmax. "To be healthy, you need to eat healthfully."
Friedman, the international bestselling author of "Food Sanity: How to Eat in a World of Fads and Fiction," tells Newsmax that what we consume has a direct effect on supporting our immune system.
Here are the top immune-boosting foods to stock up on during this crisis:
- Red Bell Peppers. Bell Peppers are very high in vitamin C and just one provides 170% of the recommended daily allowance. Vitamin C helps build up your immune system, which is why many healthcare providers recommend taking this vitamin at the first sign of a cough, cold, or flu. Vitamin C from bell peppers is helpful in the production of white blood cells, the body's major defense against disease. Friedman notes that yellow and red peppers have more antioxidant benefits than green peppers.
- Broccoli. One cup of broccoli provides more vitamin C than you need in an entire day without causing the blood sugar spike that happens with drinking citrus juice. "Broccoli is packed with phytochemicals and antioxidants that support our immune system," Dr. Seema Sarin, a holistic health practitioner, tells CNBC.
- Mushrooms. These delicious fungi are one of the few natural dietary sources of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium, promoting bone health. Studies conducted at the University of Florida's Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition found that eating shiitake mushrooms daily improves immunity better than any pharmaceutical drug currently on the market, says Friedman.
- Yogurt. "Yogurt is a great source of probiotics, which are the good bacteria that can help promote a healthy gut and immune system," Sarin tells CNBC. Recent studies have shown that probiotics are effective for fighting the common cold and influenza-like respiratory infections.
- Spinach. Sarin tells CNBC that spinach is rich in vitamin C and is an excellent source of antioxidants that shield our immune cells from environmental damage. "Plus, it has beta-carotene, an essential component of proper immune function," she says.
- Sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps boost the immune system, Emily Wunder, RD, tells CNBC.
- Strawberries. Wunder eats a half cup of strawberries daily to get 50% of her daily requirement. "Vitamin C is great for strengthening your immune system," she says.
- Chickpeas. Chickpeas are packed with zinc, says Wunder, which helps the immune system control and regulate immune responses. Zinc may be a crucial factor in fighting the coronavirus and with the shortage of zinc supplements on the market, try adding chickpeas to your salad instead.
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