Your mom had an awful lot of wisdom about how to strengthen your body to fight pathogens like COVID-19 coronavirus. Did she know she was preparing you for a pandemic when she admonished you to eat your vegetables and take your vitamins? Maybe. Hope you were listening.
As it turns out, the advice given to children by virtually every mother and caregiver on the planet may be key advice when it comes to bolstering your immune system against viruses, bacteria and other nasty stuff. In fact, if the findings of an international research team which includes Philip Calder of the University of Southampton is correct, it may be the difference between winning and losing against the coronavirus.
While eating your vegetables is a really good start, it takes more than that, according to Calder and his team. A broad-based diet with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts, along with the right amounts of meat, fish and dairy is also important. This variety assures that you get the proper vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that the immune system depends on for its ability to fight off viruses.
Something else interesting came out of their research. It turns out that vitamin/mineral supplements are a “safe, effective and low cost way to support an optimal immune system where the diet does not provide enough of certain vitamins, minerals and omega three fatty acids.”
I bet you didn’t hear that from your doctor, did you? While getting adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients may mean the difference between being well and being sick, many factors are at work reducing the levels of these in the food we grow, harvest and eat. Supplements, therefore, fill a needed nutritional gap. That is a subject for another day, however.
We know that across the globe, large numbers of people die each year from acute respiratory tract infections like the flu – and now COVID-19. We also know that a healthy immune system can assist the body in fending off COVID-19. We also know that quality nutrition is important to this process.
Why, then, do doctors and public health officials rush to vaccines and pharmaceuticals without first addressing nutrition? Why not help people fight these viruses with what they eat each day and how they feed their bodies? (There’s a smarty-pants answer there, but let’s move on.)
We don’t have a vaccine for COVID-19 yet. Even if we did, nobody wants to admit that the best we can hope for from a vaccine is that our immune system will be primed to respond to the virus by those vaccines. Effectiveness varies from person to person and viruses mutate over time.
That’s why Calder and his team are calling on public health officials to include nutrition as a strategy when making recommendations to improve public health and response to the outbreak. Check out this video:
Philip Calder, Professor of Nutritional Immunology, explained “The strength of somebody’s immune systems will not influence whether they get coronavirus; handwashing and social distancing are the best ways to avoid that. However, the immune system helps the body deal with the virus if they are infected and what we want is a system that functions properly when it’s challenged with bacteria and viruses.”
Calder recommends a variety of vegetables and fruits. These are excellent sources of the vitamins and minerals that provide support for the human immune system. Omega-3 fatty acids help regulate and control the immune response. These are found in oily fish like salmon, tuna and sardines. Krill oil is a good choice for this, too and is available as a supplement. High-fiber foods are also needed to promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. These interact with the immune system to improve its function. Meat matters, too. Meat is an important source of vitamin B12 and iron. Those who don’t eat meat would need to consider supplementation.
Professor Calder prefers that people eat plant-based foods and fiber as a way to promote growth of healthy gut bacteria. However, commercial probiotics can play a role where needed, according to Calder.
Professor Calder added, “The present situation with COVID-19 shows that we cannot just rely on vaccinations to limit the impact of respiratory infections. Improving our nutrition is a very straight forward step that we can all take to help our bodies deal with infections and limit the emergence of new, more virulent strains of viruses. We therefore strongly encourage public health officials to make sure nutritional strategies are included in all their messaging about coping with viral infections.”
Turns out your mom was right! Maybe your doctor should have a talk with your mom. After all, it’s your health in the balance!
Keep the faith and keep after it!
Related Content –
How COVID-19 Coronavirus Beats The Immune System And Gets Into Lung Tissue
The Unintended Consequences Of COVID-19 Coronavirus Social Distancing
Two Unusual COVID-19 Coronavirus Symptoms Confirmed
Journal Reference – Calder, P.C.; Carr, A.C.; Gombart, A.F.; Eggersdorfer, M. Optimal Nutritional Status for a Well-Functioning Immune System Is an Important Factor to Protect against Viral Infections. Nutrients 2020, 12, 1181.