COVID 19 - How to Rev Up Your Immune System
We hear it all the time in the news…. People with pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity and hypertension are at a much higher risk of getting COVID-19.

However, what they don’t tell you is that having one or more risk factors for COVID-19 does not mean that you’re destined to catch it. And at the same time not having any risk factors doesn’t mean that you are automatically safe.

But here’s the good news; evolution has designed the immune system to protect you against foreign invaders like COVID-19. Your immune system is your own personal army consisting of a vast network of cells, organs and tissues that are constantly on the lookout for invading pathogens.

As we head into potentially the darkest days of the coronavirus outbreak, this is the perfect time for you to create a stronger, healthier immune system.

Medical professionals like Dr. Rob Keenan a Duke Health rheumatologist offer some suggestions for strengthening your immunes system that include; staying active, getting enough Z’s, cutting back on alcohol, catching some rays, reducing stress and the most important suggestion- eating foods that support your immune system.

Decades of scientific research have shown that incorporating specific foods into your diet can strengthen your immune system. For example, a 2016 study noted that flavonoids play an essential role in the respiratory tract’s immune defense system. Researchers found that when people incorporated flavonoid rich foods like blueberries, grapes, tomatoes and onions in their diet, they were less likely to get an upper respiratory tract infection than those who don’t.

Other studies suggest that elderberry extract reduces the duration of the flu and it may help your immune system fight COVID-19. Also rich in flavonoids and antioxidants the elderberry plant works by reducing swelling in mucus membranes. Elderberry syrup and lozenges have numerous benefits, however it may interact with certain prescription medications, so please check with your physician first.

Another dark purple fruit is the acai berry (pronounced ah-sigh-EE) which is tops on the list of superfoods. Derived from the acai palm tree in South America and Trinidad this fruit is a very potent antioxidant and stimulator of the immune system. “Antioxidants strengthen our immune system and protect against cancer” says Keri Gans, MS, RD.

Foods high in the mineral zinc help boost white blood cells which defend against invaders. New research suggests that zinc helps control infections and prevents out of control inflammation. Nuts, pumpkin seeds (no wonder they were out of stock at!) sesame seeds, beans and lentils are terrific sources.

Vitamins C and E are excellent antioxidants that help destroy free radicals and support your body’s natural immune response. Some great sources include; red peppers, oranges, strawberries, broccoli, lemons and mangos.

And let’s not forget about vitamin E – which can only be found in plant foods. Vitamin E helps in the fight against free radicals; preventing disease development, heart disease and high blood pressure. You can get vitamin E from sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, almonds, butternut squash, spinach, kiwi, avocado, mango and tomato.

Have a Happy and Healthy Week!