Let’s be clear about something right away: No food has been scientifically proven to specifically fight or prevent COVID-19 so far. The science behind this virus is still being researched and discovered. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) does have some key points regarding healthy eating habits to fight COVID-19, which are all related to strengthening and maintaining a healthy immune system. A healthy immune system is the key to fighting off any virus, including one such as COVID-19.
Here are the healthy eating habits to fight COVID-19 recommended by the WHO, and for more tips, be sure to read up on our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
The WHO states that a healthy immune system is sustained by providing your body with many different nutrients. An easy way to get a variety of vitamins and minerals into your diet is by including fruits and vegetables on your plate during meals. According to the University of Cincinnati Health (UC Health), “the more colorful your plate is with a variety of choices from the list below, the better.”
Some of the best fruits and vegetables for a strong immune system include those with high counts of vitamin C (such as citrus and greens), beta-carotene (orange root vegetables), antioxidants (berries), and vitamin E (avocado).
With such a variety of foods, it almost sounds like taking a multivitamin would be an easy supplement to fix the problem. However, UC Health states that your body absorbs the nutrients “more effectively when it comes from whole food sources.”
So do yourself a favor and pile the veggies and fruit on your plate at every meal, and stock up on these 15 Best Frozen Fruits & Vegetables to Keep on Hand.
The WHO says that a healthy and balanced diet comes from a variety of foods, including carbs that come from whole grains and legumes. In a study published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a diet rich in whole grains was proven to positively affect gut health as well as immune and inflammatory markers for adults. By swapping out the refined grains in your diet (white bread, sugary cereal, white pasta) to whole grains (whole grain bread, oatmeal, whole-grain pasta), your gut—and overall immune system—will see a drastic difference during COVID-19.
Legumes are also a great source of complex carbohydrates to incorporate into your diet due to their immune-boosting qualities. According to Everyday Health, because of their high-protein content, legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc.), are important for building your muscle tissues, and strong muscles are linked to a strong immune system.
As we mentioned, vitamin E is an important antioxidant to have in your diet because of its immune-boosting and virus-fighting qualities, and nuts are a huge source of it. According to the Cleveland Clinic, high-fat plant foods will contain rich amounts of vitamin E, which also includes avocados and oils. Because nuts are a calorie-dense food, they are a great snack to consider with your afternoon cup of tea.
Nut butters are also a great source of vitamin E, and when paired with a vitamin-C rich fruit (like apples), it can be an incredible immune-boosting snack to fight COVID-19.
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According to a study published by The Journal of Nutrition, “animal source foods can provide a variety of micronutrients that are difficult to obtain in adequate quantities from plant source foods alone.” These micronutrients include vitamin A, vitamin B-12, riboflavin, calcium, iron, and zinc, which are particularly hard micronutrients to consume when following a vegetarian diet.
A diet rich in all kinds of vitamins and minerals is the best way to strengthen your immune system and ward off any type of disease. The best animal-sourced foods to incorporate in your diet are dairy products, animal by-products (such as eggs), and meat. Especially lean proteins and fish rich in omega-3’s.
All-in-all, it’s best to get those micronutrients by eating whole foods—and a diverse variety! Filling your plate with all kinds of whole foods is the best way to ensure you are getting all of those vitamins and minerals that are needed for a healthy immune system, which is one of the best eating habits to fight COVID-19 by far. Even if the research doesn’t point out particular foods to fight COVID-19, the WHO stands by its statement that a diet rich in a variety of nutrients from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and animal-sourced foods is the best way to fight this virus.
Not sure what to cook? Get started with one of our 50 Best Classic Dinner Recipes.