Vitality

Nutrients You Badly Need To Fight Off Coronavirus, Other Infections

Clinical trials for various COVID-19 vaccines are underway but it may take months before at least one proven vaccine can finally be rolled out. Though there is no silver bullet that can prevent you from contracting the virus, one way to keep yourself healthy for the time being is through a strengthened immune system, which protects your body from bad bacteria, viruses and other harmful entities. Together with proper hygiene and good health and lifestyle choices, you can boost your immunity via good nutrition, giving you the following nutrients you badly need to fight off the coronavirus and other infections:

Micronutrients

Found in fruits and vegetables, micronutrients in general refer to vitamins and minerals, and are vital for energy production, growth and brain development and other essential body functions.

Vitamins such as vitamin A, C, D, B vitamins and folate and minerals such as zinc, iron, selenium and magnesium all play a key role in your immune function. Micronutrient deficiency negatively affects immune function and therefore decreases your resistance to all kinds of infections. 

Since the amount and types of micronutrients in each food is different, it is important to consume a variety of natural food sources. 

Though ideally gained through a well-balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables, micronutrients can also be obtained through some fortified foods, which have certain micronutrients added to them and usually have labels such as "rich in..." or "enriched with..."

Fatty Acids 

Fats are important macronutrients that deliver much needed energy to your body. Not only that, but they aid in the digestion, absorption and delivery of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D and K. Fats also provide your body with fatty acids that are essential for metabolic processes such as brain function, nerve cell function, skin health, tissue health and normal hormone function for regulating body processes. 

Fatty acids play a role in regulating immune function. In fact, the fatty acids involved are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA), both of which are omega-3 fatty acids. Enough intake of omega-3 aids in anti-inflammatory processes, which may help against symptoms of infections. 

Though usually found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines, omega-3 is also present in nuts and seeds, such as walnuts and flaxseeds, as well as in fortified foods such as eggs and milk.

Phytonutrients 

Phytonutrients, also called phytochemicals, are bioactive plant-based compounds that have been shown to serve roles beyond those fulfilled by classical nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, protein and fats. 

Although there are many bioactive compounds that have yet to be identified, common examples of phytonutrients include carotenoids in various fruits and vegetables. Soya bean-based phytosterols and isoflavones; isothiocyanates and indoles in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli; tea-based flavanols and flavonols, and curcumin in turmeric. 

In addition, phytonutrients also give plants their colorful pigments, such as the orange-red color of carotenoids in carrots, tomatoes and mangoes. This is the reason why nutritionists recommend eating "a rainbow" of different colored fruits and vegetables, though it should be noted that white-colored plants such as garlic also contain phytonutrients. 

Phytonutrients are antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties and may also enhance your immunity. They reduce risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer that result from oxidative stress.

Probiotics, Dietary Fiber, Prebiotics

The gastrointestinal system, also called the gut, plays an important role in overall health and well-being. Though its main function is to facilitate food digestion, the gut also plays a major role in immune health since it contains 80 percent of the immune system. 

The gut is home to a diverse community of microorganisms (gut microbiota) that is important in digestive system health, and contains over a 100 trillion microorganisms, including about 1,000 different species of bacteria, both "good" and "bad." 

A healthy bacteria balance, when the "good" bacteria outnumber the "bad" ones, means that your risk of digestive orders and other health problems is minimal. To increase the number of "good" bacteria, add to your daily diet food rich in live organisms called probiotics, which help interact with gut microbiota to strengthen your immune system, among other health benefits. 

Dietary fibers are non-digestible carbs that pass through relatively unchanged in your stomach and intestines, thus adding bulk to your diet. They keep your gut healthy by regulating bowel movement. 

Though normally obtained by eating fruits and vegetables, you can get your daily intake of fiber through legumes and whole grains so as to promote gut health for better immune function. 

Some specific fibers can also serve as prebiotics that feed "good" bacteria and therefore encouraging their growth for better gut health. 
Prebiotic-rich foods include garlic, onion and bananas.

Food ingredients that can double as prebiotics include fructo-oligosaccharides, inulin, galacto-oligosaccharides, polydextrose and resistant starch.

Dietary Fiber People who add fiber to their diet significantly reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease. Flickr

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