We at Tasty Bytes Magazine are big fans of self-quarantine and social distancing we thought it was called being a coder. But in all seriousness, folks are scared, and we have received a lot of food related questions about how to use nourishment to avoid or mitigate damage from the virus. So, we talked to our experts, digitally of course; here is the lowdown on the slowdown of COVID-19.
Can you speak about the benefits of amino acids and trace minerals related to immunity?
“Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and all of our antibody responses, cell-mediated immunity, and natural killer (NK) cells are made of proteins. When we're about to undergo a treatment, surgery or are recovering we have an increased need for amino acids. If those amino acids are not supplied by our diet, then they will be taken from other places in the body, but this takes time and weakens us. We want a functional immune system to help protect against or limit infections including viruses or at the very least allow us to recover from an infection. But this immune response needs more than just protein it needs a host of trace minerals. These are items that we should be getting in our diet but when we are feeling sick, we tend to eat less. Zinc, copper and selenium are some of the most important trace minerals for our immune system. But don't go running for a pill to protect yourself. Zinc and Cooper use the same pathways into the body; taking too much of either has been shown to depress the immune system. It's best to get these trace minerals in food form because they are less likely to have an adverse reaction than pills. Some go-to foods to increase protein, zinc, selenium and cooper in your diet are liver (beef or chicken), fish/shellfish, eggs, nuts, seeds and lentils. And some of these foods throughout your week to keep your immune system in tip top shape and be ready to fight whatever nature throws at you.” said Scott Keatley, RD, of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy.
What are some foods you would recommend to prevent a potential virus and/or manage symptoms?
Beth Warren, R.D., founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Secrets of a Kosher Girl suggests chicken soup and other broths – “There’s a reason why chicken broth is always a top featured recommendation when it comes to feeling sick. It provides vitamins, minerals and proteins your body needs to fight a fever. Plus, the fluids help to keep your body hydrated which is a vital necessity during a sickness. If feeling congested, chicken broth is also shown to be an effective natural decongestant that can help clear excess nasal mucous. I also like coconut water. Aside from providing the benefit of hydration, the natural potassium in coconut water, an electrolyte, can also help to keep up your energy levels when fighting a virus. Plus, with its antioxidants, coconut water can help you fight oxidative damage. Finally, bananas are easy to chew and swallow which is helpful if feeling a lack of appetite or a sore throat. They're especially a good choice to eat while sick because of their vitamins and minerals like potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Plus, they help strengthen your immunity by increasing white blood cell production—your body’s natural defense system.”
How can people mange stress eating related to the virus?
“I have been encouraging my clients to focus on what you CAN do and to come up with plans for the worst case scenarios to help ease that “what if” anxiety. When it comes to cravings, tuning in to whether it’s a physical or emotional craving can help you respond mindfully. Incorporating stress-fighting activities into your daily routine (a few of my favorites are working out, setting aside “worry time,” journaling, meditation) can also make a big difference in our mental state. Lastly, having balanced meals that provide a combination of protein, fat, and fiber can also help us feel more grounded and better able to deal with the stressors at hand.” says Jessica Cording, M.S., R.D., author of The Little Book of Game-Changers.
Any shelf stable items that you would add to the shopping list in case you’re at home for an extended period of time?
Abbie Gellman, MS RD CDN is a NYC-based Registered Dietitian and Chef said, “While loading up on healthy foods is not a magic bullet to prevent or cure the coronavirus once you’ve been exposed, it will help with the recovery process. Sleep and exercise are important parts of staying healthy as well. Pantry items, including shelf stable and freezer items, are good to have all the time regardless of the situation. In the case of the coronavirus, I recommend stocking up on 2 to 3 weeks of nutritious essentials. My list includes: canned goods, other pantry stables, and frozen foods. For canned goods, I recommend fruit, vegetables, beans, seafood, and vegetable oils. Look for canned fruit in its own juices with no added sugar; this will be a great way to get your daily dose of immune-boosting vitamin C. Canned vegetables, including tomato products, can be a welcome addition to a variety of daily meals. Canned beans and lentils are a great source of plant-based protein and are an easy addition to grain salads and soups or you can make your own hummus or bean dip. Canned fish, such as tuna and salmon, are a perfect way to get omega-3 fatty acids and protein. I like to add canned tuna to salads or chopped veggies and I use canned salmon to make salmon cakes. Don’t forget the olive oils and whatever you use for cooking!”
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