How to boost your immune system with food and prepare the fight for coronavirus

How to boost your immune system with food and prepare the fight for coronavirus

The coronavirus outbreak from Wuhan, China has taken the lives of over 100 people in just a month. Around 5000 people have been confirmed infected as of today and a lot more are being tested for the virus. The world is getting anxious that this little virus may cause a global disaster.

 

What should you do to keep yourself safe?

 

The coronavirus is spreading more quickly than SARS, but the virus itself is less fatal than SARS. The people that have died from the virus so far seem to be ones who already have other health complications or poor immune functions. So the two most important actions right now are to stay away from the virus and improve your immunity.

 

To stay away from the virus, it is best to avoid traveling and getting exposed to potentially infected people. Currently, Asia is the most dangerous to travel to, but Australia is also not 100% safe as there have been 5 confirmed cases in NSW. Brisbane is relatively safe for now, but since the incubation period for the virus can be as long as two weeks, that could change any time. You should still be careful and avoid public gatherings as much as possible.

 

How can you improve our immune function?

Our immune system launches its defense mechanisms when our body senses invaders such as a virus. There are many factors that affect immune function, including genetics and lifestyle. While it is hard to change our genetics, you can certainly try to strengthen our immune function through food.

 

Our digestive system – the gastrointestinal tract is a potential entry site for bad bugs. When you feed on a healthy plant-based diet, good gut bacteria thrive and leave no room for bad bugs to enter your body. They keep our gut lining thick and secrete antimicrobials that tell bad bugs away.

 

Good gut bacteria can also produce healthy metabolites called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as butyrate, propionate and acetate. These substances are known to help with immune defense against invading pathogens and prevent inflammation. They can also enhance gut barrier function and recruit immune cells to fight pathogens.

 

On the other hand, if your gut is in a state of imbalance, meaning there is not enough good gut microbes guarding the gut lining boosting your immune system, bad pathogens can come in and cause a scene. These bad bacteria thrive on a fibre-poor or animal-based diet, and produce harmful metabolites instead of healthy short-chain fatty acids.

 

What should you eat?

To encourage the growth of good gut bacteria, you need to fuel our body with a variety of prebiotics such as fibre, resistant starch and phytonutrients that come from plant foods. Use Vegan Palette’s food plate as a guide and make sure you eat enough vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains. They will give you lots of natural prebiotics!

Vegan palette food plate

Want to print this food plate and a few other nutrition checklists? Check out our Essential Essential Vegan Health Bundle printables!

 

Start the day right

Don’t skip breakfast! This is when your gut needs nourishment the most. Start the day with a nourishing bowl of oats, topped with lots of fruits, berries, nuts and seeds.

 

Eat a rainbow bowl

Lunch should be the biggest meal in the day – this is when you can pack lots of macro- and micronutrients into your day. Aim for a rainbow plate with at least 8 different types of ingredients!

 

Snack on healthy whole foods

Snacking is okay, and good – if you choose the right snacks! Enjoy a selection of nuts and seeds, with a fruit salad for an added dose of vitamin C. This gives you a little extra immune boost.

 

Load up natural immune boosters!

Spices are great immune boosters! Ginger, turmeric, black pepper, garlic are great immune boosters. Don’t forget to add them to your plate.

 

Need more recipe inspirations? Check out our top 26 plant-based recipes designed by accredited practising dietitian.

If you want to delve a little deeper into the wonders of Gut Health, be sure to check out our Gut Health ebook to learn more.