How to Boost Your Immunity — Coronavirus Edition

A COVID19 outbreak in the US is almost guaranteed. Look at Italy — the number of confirmed coronavirus cases exploded from 3 to 1700 in eight days. The only reason that the US numbers are small — 73 as of March 1 — is because labs around the country don’t have enough diagnostic kits. While the government makes a lot of suggestions like “wash your hands,” here is something they don’t talk about: your immune system makes all the difference and … you can strengthen it and reduce the chances of becoming severely ill from the novel coronavirus.

Did you know that 80% of people who get the SARS-Cov-2 (official name for the new virus) have only mild symptoms? These people don’t have to go to the hospital or take medications. Their natural immune system defeats the virus. About 14% experience severe illness and 6% go into critical situation.

So, how can you boost your immunity and avoid being among the unfortunate 20% who get really sick? (Before we go into the suggestions, let me just add that I haven’t gotten a flu or even a cold in more than ten years. I used to get sick a lot, but I changed my life by changing my diet. If you’re really into scientific proofs and studies, you can search online for scholarly articles on each of the food substance I mention below. For example, go to Google search and type in “scholarly articles mushroom immunity” and you can spend hours reading scientific papers. I spent a year researching all this stuff and it’s really enlightening and fun). Okay, now back to the topic…

What NOT to do: The first principle in healthcare is to avoid causing harm. So…

1. Don’t eat junk food or fast food. All the sugary stuff like sodas cause inflammation and weaken your immune system. Processed food, junk food, fast food are all full of chemicals, GMO and basically “dead food.” Avoid them like the coronavirus!

2. Don’t be sleep deprived: Vast majority of Americans don’t get enough sleep. Avoid TV and computers two hours before going to bed. Get 7-8 hours of sleep.

What to Eat: As a Greek philosopher said more than 2000 years ago, “Food is thy medicine.” Here are some things that will greatly boost your immune system — whenever possible, get organic versions of everything below.

Mushrooms: These are wonder drugs for your immunity and they come in so many forms and shapes that you will never get bored. Explore beyond the boring ones in a typical supermarket. Portobello, Shiitake, Maitake, Oyster, Enoki, Porcini etc. are all immune boosters and even cancer fighters. If you don’t mind splurging, try Reishi mushrooms (some of them are $100 or more for a pound!)

mushrooms

Garlic, Ginger, Onion: These three should be regulars in your meals. You can even cut raw garlic into small pieces and swallow them like pills. They not only boost your immunity, they also kill or weaken viruses.

Italian Herbs: Sage is a magical herb! Add it to whatever you cook. Oregano and rosemary are also must-include herbs.

Indian spices: Make your own curry by mixing the following ground spices: Turmeric, Cumin, Coriander, Cinnamon, Clove, Chili powder, Ginger powder and Cardamom. There’s no specific formula, but I would suggest a ratio of 8:4:4:2:2:2:1:1 (i.e. 8 units of turmeric, 4 units of cumin etc.). You can experiment and add other spices like Paprika, Nutmeg etc. Keep it in a bottle and add it whatever you cook.

spices

Apples and Oranges: “An Apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Make it two apples every day for the next month. And you need lots of Vitamin C. Rather than popping vitamin C pills, eat plenty of oranges and drink freshly squeezed lemon juice. (If you’re concerned about acidity, just add a pinch of baking soda to the lemon juice). If you want to buy OJ, go for freshly squeezed (cold pressed) — avoid pasteurized and processed juice, which do more harm than good to your body.

There are lots of fruits, so there’s no excuse! Start your day with strawberries and blueberries. Have a banana when you’re low on sugar. Snack on apples between meals. Try mangoes, kiwis and other tropical fruits. Your skin will also look amazing in a few days!

Fiber: What? How can fiber fight coronavirus??? Yes, guess what, your best friend to fight germs are the gut bacteria in your small/large intestines. (You can read articles like this for more on this topic). And what do these trillions of bacteria inside you demand in return for keeping you healthy? Just fiber — stuff your body cannot digest!

Feed those amazing gut bacteria plenty of fiber by eating lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Most Americans don’t get even 1/3rd of the necessary fiber. So, double or triple your daily intakes of plant products. (If you’re allergic to gluten, go for organic and whole grains such as brown rice, oats, amaranth, millet, sorghum and buckwheat). Add ground flax seed to your juices and pancakes.

Other great sources for fiber are beans and lentils. Again, there are so many beans that you will never get bored. Make sure you soak the beans overnight (or even a few days to let some sprout) and you won’t have any gas problem! Both beans and lentils are excellent sources of proteins as well.

beans lentils

Fermented Food: Another great way to help your gut microbiome is fermented food like Kimchi, Sauerkraut and Miso Soup. Yogurt is also wonderful, but make sure it is organic and is made from whole milk.

Nuts: Nuts are great sources of healthy fat and important minerals like Zinc, that boost your immunity. Mixed nuts are awesome snacks.

Tea: Drink a lot of herbal and regular (black/green) tea all day long. They not only keep your throat moist, they are full of antioxidants. I personally like “immunity” herbal teas that have a dozen different herbs in them. Here’s an example (and no, I am not getting paid by them! )

img_1797

You can add ginger, sage leaves etc. to whatever tea you make. If you need some sweetness, add raw honey to your tea.

Natural Supplements: There are lots of options and you can do your research. I personally use these two shown below. If it’s organic, has tons of good herbal ingredients, and has good online reviews, then you can’t go wrong.

img_1806

Other Suggestions:

Get Exercise — great way to boost your immunity. Doesn’t have to be tough or painful — just walking briskly for half hour will do wonders.

Meditation — one of the biggest factors that weaken your immunity is mental stress. So, breathe deep all day long and maybe even try meditation. There are free guided meditations on YouTube and online that can be helpful.

Good luck and be safe!