Apart from physical activity of at least 30 minutes every day, WHO recommends taking a regular diet of nutrient-rich food to boost your immune system as part of the “new normal” in fighting off diseases like COVID-19.
Fight COVID-19: Nutrient-rich food that should be on your grocery list
(Philstar.com) - May 21, 2020 - 6:49pm

MANILA, Philippines (As released) — The World Health Organization (WHO) called novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) the "defining global health crisis of our time and the greatest challenge we have faced since World War II." 

One thing the whole world has in common is that COVID-19 has compelled us to change many of our habits in relation to health and wellness.

Apart from physical activity of at least 30 minutes every day, WHO recommends taking a regular diet of nutrient-rich food to boost your immune system as part of the “new normal” in fighting off diseases like COVID-19.

Now, going to the grocery store takes even more planning as the visits are less frequent and options are more limited. Because of these restrictions, it’s easy to make selections that are not the healthiest or to be tempted by high-calorie comfort food - which often contain too much fat, salt and sugar.

Susan Bowerman, Senior Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training for Herbalife Nutrition, and a functional medicine practitioner, said here are essential nutrients we should pay more attention to while we #StayatHome: 


Best known for helping with regularity, high fiber foods are filling and relatively low in calories, making them one of the best allies when it comes to weight management. 

Certain fibers can also encourage the growth of “good” bacteria in your digestive tract. These beneficial bacteria help support immunity because they serve as an initial line of defense, by crowding out potentially harmful bacteria that might enter the digestive tract. 

You can get more fiber by including more fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet. Use fruits and veggies as snacks, add them to smoothies, sandwiches, salads, soups and stews, and replace refined grains with whole grains.

Fruits and vegetables are great sources of fiber and potassium and a single carrot provides a days’ worth of beta-carotene, which helps protect the health of cells, including cells in the immune system. The body also converts beta-carotene to vitamin A which supports the health of the skin, including the specialized immune cells that reside there. 

Produce that lasts the longest includes apples, citrus, onions, potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and carrots. And keep in mind that frozen fruits and veggies pack the same nutritional punch as their fresh counterparts, so stock up on them when you find them.  


While it’s not a mineral we typically think about, magnesium contributes to hundreds of bodily functions. Magnesium supports the health of your immune and nervous systems, supports muscle function, and assists your cells in producing energy.  

It is abundant in plant foods like leafy greens, nuts, beans and whole grains, so try snacking on nuts, or toss some beans into a leafy green salad.


Now is a better time than ever to load up on your protein, because it promotes the growth of new cells. Protein has arginine, which is an amino acid that heals damaged tissues. So make sure to include chicken, pork, and fish in your cart, as well as nuts, seeds, and legumes, such as monggo or mung beans, for plant-based sources.

Protein supports immune function in a number of ways – among them, the body uses protein to manufacture antibodies, and protein supports the health of the skin and the cells lining the digestive and respiratory tracts.  

Vitamin D

Most people associate calcium with healthy bones, but your bones need vitamin D too, since it helps your body absorb calcium from your diet.  

Vitamin D is also needed for proper muscle function and supports the activity of the immune system. Good dietary sources of vitamin D include eggs and fortified dairy products; a daily walk outside can help too, since your body produces vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. 

Vitamin D helps activate your body’s immune system defenses with its anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties. It is so important in immune function that low levels of this have been associated with increased susceptibility to infections, diseases, and immune-related disorders. 

You can find vitamin D in several kinds of seafood, particularly sardines, salmon, tuna, mackerel or tanigue, halibut, and swordfish. Eggs, beans, avocado, and lettuce are also rich in Vitamin D. However, there are studies that show that vitamin D should be taken with caution and perhaps discontinued if you already have symptoms of infection.

Dry goods like oatmeal, lentils and whole-grain pastas and cereals can be great sources of fiber, iron and magnesium, and some cereals are also fortified with vitamin D. The most important feature is to ensure that you’re buying “whole grain” to get the full benefit, so read labels carefully.


This mineral supports the function of nerves and muscles and helps regulate blood pressure. Potassium also supports chemical reactions in the body that generate energy from food. 

One reason many people don’t get enough potassium is because they don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables – the most abundant sources of this important mineral. 


Calcium is critically important for bone health. Adults need at least 1,000 mg of calcium each day, or the amount found in three glasses of milk. 

However, many women don’t eat enough dairy products, either because they simply choose to avoid them, are following a vegetarian or vegan diet, or because they are sensitive to lactose. However, calcium can also be obtained from leafy green vegetables and some fortified foods.


One of iron’s key functions is to support the transport of oxygen to cells and tissues. Women who are premenopausal lose iron routinely with their monthly cycle, which is why it is so important to ensure they have adequate intake. 

Vitamin C

Vitamins serve as a bridge so that your body gets the nutrients that it needs. Vitamin C is believed to increase the production of white blood cells, which are important in fighting infections. 

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a superhero when it comes to boosting the immune system. Because ascorbic acid inhibits NLRP3 inflammasome activation, clinical trials have found that Vitamin C shortens the frequency, duration and severity of the common cold and the incidence of pneumonia.

Oranges, kiwi, strawberries, red bell peppers, broccoli, malunggay or moringa, and kale are rich in vitamin C, giving your body the antioxidants it needs to renew itself and fight free radicals, the molecules that damage the immune system. If you’re under stress, these foods are especially helpful in protecting your immune system from becoming susceptible to viruses. 

Probiotics, prebiotics

These stimulate the immune system by inhibiting toxins and stopping bad bacteria from infesting your body. You can get your daily dose of probiotics from fermented vegetables or fruits like kimchi, kombucha, miso, natto and atchara or papaya relish, while prebiotic food sources include eggplant, asparagus, bananas, garlic, onions, and nuts.

Fermented foods are also great options that provide beneficial probiotics (the ‘good bacteria’) to the digestive system. Some fermented foods, like tempeh or Greek yogurt, are also excellent sources of plant-based protein (and yogurt is a great source of calcium) and both foods have relatively long shelf lives.

Preparedness is the key to protection, so make sure you have your health essentials to help you in any medical situation. For those who feel they cannot meet their daily nutrient fix from food, Watsons, among other drug stores, offers supplements such as Ascof Forte Syrup, Strepsils, Prosource Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Biogenic Ethyl Alcohol, Conzace Soft Gel, Myra E 400IU, Growee Syrup, Cherifer PGM, MET Tathione, NU Essence Collagen, Organique Acai Juice, MX3 capsules and Watsons Generics Malunggay + Mangosteen.

When it comes to protecting yourself from COVID-19, a strong immune system is like having a good insurance plan. While staying at home and practicing hygiene is a must, being smart with your food choices and keeping a healthy diet gives your body the edge it needs to fight the disease.

“Let’s find ways to support how our immune system can induce, enhance, suppress, regulate and if needed, strengthen its responses to viruses and infections,” the functional medicine practitioner reminded. — As released

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