The World Health Organization has labeled COVID-19 a pandemic. That has a lot of people worried about getting sick, but do you really need to be concerned? The virus that causes COVID-19 is like the flu or common cold and, because of that, can’t be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics treat bacterial infections, but not viruses. The key is in prevention, because once you get a viral infection, it has to run its course. Luckily, there are many ways you can reduce your chances of falling ill—and strengthen your body for quicker recovery—including eating the right foods.
Your superpower against COVID-19 may well be in the foods you’re eating because many foods have been scientifically shown to both prevent and combat viral infections. Here are some of the most potent ones to add to your routine.
Garlic is loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and an active compound known as allicin. Garlic is known to strengthen the immune system, restore suppressed antibody response to disease, and help combat respiratory infections. Dr. David Friedman, naturopathic physician and author of “Food Sanity: How to Eat in a World of Fads and Fiction,” said garlic is his first choice as a food remedy.
“In 460 BC, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, prescribed garlic to treat a variety of medical conditions. Fast forward to 2020 and modern science confirms garlic can treat everything from the common cold, flu, cardiovascular disease, and even helps in the prevention of cancer.”
Ginger is known to have antiviral properties, contains more than 50 antioxidant compounds and has powerful anti-inflammatory benefits that have been shown to aid breathing and respiration. It’s also great at relieving nausea, treating aches and pains in the body, and reducing indigestion. Basically, ginger can both help combat viral infection and alleviate its symptoms.
Black and Green Tea
Both black and green teas have antiviral properties thanks to their enzyme-inhibiting and receptor-blocking properties. Tea is packed with catechins that have been shown to fight influenza and other respiratory viral infections. Tea is also loaded with antioxidants and flavonoids, and interestingly the flavonoids may help combat viruses thanks to the way they interact with the gut’s microbiome.
I can’t say enough good things about turmeric. It’s packed with curcuminoids that have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help protect the body, reduce pain, and even alleviate depression. Curcumin has also been shown to have antiviral properties by inhibiting cell binding. Consume your turmeric with black pepper to significantly increase absorption of curcumin in the body.
Any food containing probiotics (think fermented foods with active cultures like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut), are your allies in the war against coronavirus, and getting sick in general. Probiotics play many roles in our well-being, with new roles being discovered regularly. Their role against viral infections is due to their immune-boosting properties, bolstering the body’s white blood cell count. They also play a role in mood and mental health, so if you’re stressed out, probiotics can help you feel more balanced.
One of my daily go-to’s for immune support is oregano oil, but you can just as easily reap its effects from the fresh or dried leaves. The active antiviral ingredient is known as carvacrol and has been shown to fight viral respiratory infections. You can add oregano to your favorite sauce, soup, or as a salad topper.
Cinnamon has long been touted for its antimicrobial and antiviral properties, likely due to its high antioxidant potency which is even stronger than those of garlic or oregano. It’s also anti-inflammatory, reduces blood sugar, and treats a host of ailments. There have even been scientific studies showing its effectiveness against HIV. Make sure to stick with Ceylon, or true cinnamon, as it is the most effective. But be wary if you are on medications, as it is a natural blood thinner.
You’ll find omega-3s in salmon, flax, seaweed, chia seed, hemp seed, walnuts, and soy products like tofu and tempeh. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and also directly boost immunity by enhancing the function of B cells, a type of white blood cell. Unlike the other foods we’ve discussed, omega-3 containing foods can be sustainable main dishes that can comprise the bulk of a meal. (I don’t think you’d eat a whole plate of garlic by itself, but hey, maybe you would.)
You have some great choices here; even adding just a couple to your regular diet can help boost your immunity. Remember, stress also affects immunity, so take adequate time for self-care. A daily glass of tea is one of my self-care routines and may help you stay well.
Jaya Jaya Myra is a wellness lifestyle expert and go-to media expert on mind-body wellness, stress management, mindfulness, food for mood, and natural, healthy living. She’s a best-selling author, TEDx and motivational speaker, and creator of The WELL Method for purpose-filled healthy living. Visit www.JayaJayaMyra.com