Nutrients to Increase Physical and Psychological Health During the Pandemic
We are living in a time of uncertainty as we realize there are many things we cannot control. Fear and anxiety are heightened as people are trying to balance their children’s remote learning with their own concern that they may lose their jobs or that they or their family members may get sick. Now more than ever, we must ensure that we are meeting our own needs for continued good health. Self-care is critical to giving us the physical and emotional strength to get through these uncertain times. A balanced diet containing a wide range of nutrients, adequate sleep and exercise, and lowering our stress levels will help our bodies to fight infection and disease and better equip us to handle stress and anxiety. If we are poorly nourished, we are at greater risk of bacterial, viral and other infections. Sugar and processed carbohydrates can reduce the ability to fight off infections and increase inflammation in the body. Nutrient deficiencies can alter the body’s immune responses. Right now, we should all ensure we are getting adequate amounts of the following: Vitamin C- Vitamin C is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that is vital to your body’s healing process. It is one of the best substances for managing stress in the body. It is always best to obtain through diet and is found in fruits and vegetables including but not limited to citrus fruits, berries, potatoes, tomatoes, red peppers, broccoli, spinach, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. I also include in my smoothies a whole food natural powder derived from acerola cherries and camu for an added boost. Vitamin A (Beta Carotene) – Beta carotene a precursor for Vitamin A and plays a major role in maintaining the body’s natural defenses. Vitamin A is involved in the production of white blood cells that clear pathogens from the bloodstream. A deficiency can increase susceptibility to infections and delay recovery. The best sources of beta carotene are carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, spinach, kale, apricots and cantaloupe. Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) - Vitamin D3 aids the immune system, reduces inflammation and is involved in brain health. Blood levels should be checked prior to supplementation. The best food sources are wild salmon and dairy foods. Exposure to sunshine is needed for our bodies to formulate Vitamin D3, so make sure you are getting out in the sun 10-15 minutes daily. If you supplement, always pair with healthy fat for best absorption. B Vitamins – B vitamins work best when taken together. They play a role in reducing stress, lifting our moods and formulating energy in the body. B vitamins can be found in poultry, beef, dairy, legumes, leafy greens. The best sources of B12 are found in animal protein. Zinc- helps the body balance the immune response so when fighting an infection, it doesn’t spiral out of control. Major food sources include oysters, crab, lobster, red meat, poultry, whole grains, beans and nuts. Protein - Protein is the building block of immune cells. Animal proteins are rich sources of B6, B12, iron and zinc, which are all critical for balancing our immune system and making sure it works properly. These nutrients are all critical to combat stress and anxiety Healthy fat- Make sure you are getting enough healthy fat in your diet (salmon, flaxseeds, chia seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, egg yolks, avocados) Healthy fats are needed to regulate the immune system, control inflammatory responses and required for the brain to function properly. Trans Fats are not good for your physical or mental health (soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil) they actually increase inflammation and lower your immune response Drink water – Make sure you are getting enough water daily. Water helps the body flush out toxins. When we are dehydrated, we are more susceptible to illness. Himalayan Pink Sea Salt – Is one of the best substances for adrenal support and calming stress. Add to lemon water and sprinkle on vegetables. Sleep - Sleep is a time of restoration for the body and is needed to product immune cells. Make sure you are getting at least 6 hours of sleep nightly.