There are other ways to naturally boost the immune system, such as getting sufficient sleep, keeping anxiety at bay, and eating foods that can boost your immune system
It is difficult not to feel overwhelmed and frightened as you watch the numbers of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases soar over the past several weeks, as well as how quickly the virus has spread.
These numbers are particularly alarming for the elderly, children, and anybody with a compromised or neglected immune system. These populations are at much higher risk of both infection and death.
Chances are good that your patients (and their family members) who are particularly susceptible to COVID-19 share your concerns about their vulnerability. However, even your patients who are not directly touched by the virus may also be worried or anxious about its effect upon their work, children’s education, or ability to purchase basic necessities for their family.
These dramatically increased levels of anxiety and fear will lower the body’s natural immune system, which can then make normally healthy individuals more susceptible to COVID-19 infection. While it is vital to follow recommended guidelines about washing your hands and keeping social distance of no less than six feet, there are other ways to naturally boost the immune system, such as getting sufficient sleep, keeping anxiety at bay and eating foods that can boost your immune system.
Here are a few immunity-boosting foods to consider:
Foods that can boost your immune system: citrus fruits
Citrus fruits are probably the best known food source that can boost the immune system because of their high amounts of vitamin C, which increases white blood cell production to ward off infections. Citrus fruits are also a great recommendation if you live in a northern climate, as they are usually available year round, rather than just seasonally.3
Leafy and cooking greens
Leafy greens, along with cooking greens and broccoli, are collectively known as dark green vegetables and are plentiful and full of vitamins and nutrients to boost the immune system.3,4
Romaine lettuce and other leafy greens contain high amounts of fiber, beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate, calcium, and iron. Arugula is packed with antioxidants, while spinach lives up to its reputation as the most nutrient dense of the leafy greens. It is packed with fiber, protein, beta carotene, B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins C, E, and K. Spinach is actually best eaten raw, such as in a salad, but it can be lightly cooked.3,4
Cooking greens actually increase their nutritional levels of vitamins A and K when they are cooked (think chard, kale, mustard, beet, collard, and turnip greens). They also have higher levels of beta carotene, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and B vitamins than do leafy greens.
For an even bigger immune boost, your patients can add in garlic, ginger, or turmeric when preparing cooking greens, which will boost the immune system even more.3,4
Like spinach, broccoli is an immune-boosting powerhouse and takes top consideration when deciding on eating foods that can boost your immune system. It is loaded with fiber, protein, potassium, iron, vitamin C, beta carotene, folate, riboflavin, antioxidants, and vitamin B-6. Broccoli is also best served raw to get the most nutritional benefit, although it can also be lightly steamed to retain most of its flavor and nutritional value.3,4
The current coronavirus pandemic has health effects that extend far beyond those who are infected or have died. You will no doubt be fielding questions from many of your patients about how to manage their worry, anxiety and fear, all of which can suppress their immune systems and make them more vulnerable to the virus.
Fortunately, stocking up on immunity-boosting food, along with getting enough sleep, watching alcohol consumption and exercise (while observing social distancing) can help them through a difficult time.
- Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Accessed 3/27/2020.
- Why “flattening the curve” may be the world’s best bet to slow the coronavirus. StatNews. Accessed 3/27/2020.
- 15 foods that boost the immune system. Healthline. Accessed 3/27/2020.
- What are the health benefits of romaine lettuce? Medical News Today. Accessed 3/27/2020.