Let’s Talk Food: How can we protect ourselves with the help of food

  • May 12, 2020

Here is some information that has been out there for the start of the flu season, and might be helpful for the coronavirus.

1. Eat colorful vegetables and fruits, at least five a day. These foods contain vitamins and minerals that help fight a virus. These foods boost our immunity: broccoli, spinach, papaya, kiwi, citrus, red bell peppers, carrots and sweet potatoes. Even add a squeeze of lemon juice into your bottle of water. The scent of citrus has a calming effect and could reduce your anxiety levels. Eat a papaya everyday. We are lucky papaya grows so well here and we have a plentiful supply of them. They are an excellent source of vitamin C

2. Cherry juice has been known to help you sleep. A study in the American Journal of Therapy found that drinking 240 ml (about one cup) twice a day increased sleep time and sleep efficiency. Tart cherries have been reported to contain high levels of phytochemicals, including melatonin, critical in regulating sleep cycles in humans. Cherry juice increases tryptophan availability, which is related to serotonin, which makes your brain feel good. Several studies cite cherry juice may also reduce inflammation.

3. Try to avoid foods that burden the immune system such as too much sugar. With all our free time, we have been baking a lot more, and I know this may be difficult. I saw on Facebook that wearing our face masks at home may help to stop eating.

4. A Jewish mother’s remedy, Chicken noodle soup is good for upper respiratory tract infections. Researchers found that chicken noodle soup impacts the movement of white blood cells, which cause an anti-inflammatory effect. In addition the aroma helps clear the nasal passages. The carrots in the soup have vitamin A, important for boosting your immune system, the broth has zinc, which helps fight viruses, and chicken, which may help with the repair of body tissue and boost tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter.

5. I know during these times, this may be difficult, but try to avoid too much stress, which exposes your body to a steady stream of stress hormones that suppress the immune system. Meditate, or look at the bright side of things, if possible. My friend Rey got married a few weeks ago and I am sure this isolation works for him. Some positive things for me is that I feel so much closer to my grandchildren now that they are not in preschool and going to a babysitter.

6. Exercise, as it wakes up the immune system, although too much is not good either. Go for walks around your neighborhood. We go on walks after dinner most days.

7. Vitamin D in healthy levels can help keep your immune system healthy and boost your immune system, and protect against respiratory illnesses in general. Sunshine provides us in Hawaii with vitamin D.

8. At least 75 mg of elemental zinc within the first 24 hours of cold symptoms can shorten the length of rhinovirus colds, but more that 150 mg of zinc may lead to zinc toxicity, which could reduce your immune function, this is according to

9. Garlic contains compounds that help the immune system fight germs. It contains alliin, which contains sulfur, which boosts the disease-fighting response of some types of white blood cells in the body when they encounter viruses. One study, according to Healthline, cited a study of 146 healthy volunteers found the garlic group had a 63% lower risk of getting a cold and their cold were also 70% shorter.

10. Elderberries have antiviral properties, and can fight a virus once an infection has already occurred. In a study paper that appears in the Journal of Functional Foods, they found that substance present in elderberries can stop an influenza virus from entering the replicating in human cells.

11. An ancient Chinese remedy, ginger is a strong antioxidant and naturally helps boost the immune system, kills the cold virus, and detoxes the system by relaxing the intestinal tract. Certain chemical compounds in fresh ginger help the body ward off germs. You can’t overdose on ginger so buy a few large hands of them from our local farmer and make ginger tea. It helps with nausea also.

12. Miso soup is consumed in Japan at least once a day, sometimes at breakfast or as a side dish for lunch or dinner. It has been a part of their meal for more than a thousand years, ever since the Buddhist monks started making it part of their daily meal. It is said to boost your immunity due to the amino acids in the soybeans. The calcium and vitamin B can help ease stress, something we are all going through right now. My grandson Quentin loves cut wakame in his miso soup, which is rich in iodine, manganese, folate, magnesium and calcium. With us at home, baking and eating three full meals, it is good to know that wakame has been shown to promote weight control in animal studies. One study found that supplementing with wakame seaweed extract suppressed weight gain in mice on a high-fat diet. Another study found wakame showed anti-obesity effects in rats and was able to reduce fat tissue. If they do a human study instead on rats and mice, we could be part of this study, eating wakame would be great!

So basically folks, even if you are confined at home, eat healthy and please feed your children healthy foods. With healthier eating habits, we will all benefit from it when this is all over.

Email Audrey Wilson at


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