As coronavirus impacts communities around the world, many people have wondered whether there are steps they can take to stay healthy and boost their immune systems. You may have heard about antioxidants – in food articles, from health experts or on nutrition labels. Antioxidants exist to protect our cells from damage that leads to aging and disease. Although our bodies produce their own antioxidants, we also need to boost our immune system by eating the foods that contain them. There is evidence to suggest that nutritional deficiencies can weaken our immune system and make us more vulnerable to infections, and that these infections are more severe and last longer.
Antioxidants protect our bodies against free radicals, chemicals which are formed in the body as part of its metabolism and defence against bacteria. Certain factors, such as excessive exposure to environmental pollution or ultraviolet light, illness and cigarette smoke can cause the body to increase its production of free radicals. Left unchecked, these unstable and potentially harmful chemicals create hostile conditions in the body that may precipitate heart disease and cancer.
To cope with free radicals, the body needs more antioxidants than it can produce. Fortunately, many foods provide antioxidants that help to protect the body against their threat, and improve the functionality of our immune systems.
Vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are found in ample quantities in a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Vitamins E and C and beta carotene (the plant form of vitamin A), help to neutralize free radicals, as do minerals such as selenium (found in shellfish and avocados), copper (in nuts, seeds and shellfish) and zinc (in shellfish). Bioflavonoids, found in citrus fruits and grapes, also have antioxidant properties. During an infection vitamin C (found in our orange fruits and vegetables) and zinc can reduce the length and severity.
Without antioxidants many of us would fall prey to numerous infections and possibly even cancer. Of course, this alone won’t prevent transmission of coronavirus or any other infections, as we also need to stay vigilant with hand washing and staying indoors when symptoms occur. But, it’s one way we can ensure our immune system is best equipped to keeps health.
So, it is quite clear that choosing the best foods can go a long way in enhancing your health and fighting disease!