Why we need to eat well during a pandemic

Feeding your immune system

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Perhaps the most powerful response we have to the Covid-19 pandemic is a very personal one, and that is ensuring our immune systems are on song and ready to kill off this prolific virus if we get it.

Along with social isolation our major defence during a pandemic is our immune system, but this unbelievably powerful and sophisticated mechanism works on an absolute knife edge to keep us protected and can go either way if it doesn’t have critical resources.

How it works 

Our immune system is working all the time surveying our 'environment' for pathogens (viruses) whilst recognising and not attacking our healthy cells.

Our immune system hones itself through multiple ‘self’ screening processes with only a fraction of cells produced such as T cells having the optimal properties to defend us (1 in 20).

Antibodies also go through a complex process of maturing and selection.

Viruses constantly mutate inside us to escape our immune system recognising them and destroying them, our immune system has to keep up with this whilst constantly double checking itself to make sure its response is neither too weak (doesn’t kill the virus) or too strong (kills us).

This phenomenally sophisticated but knife edge activity uses huge resources the most critical of which are specific vitamins and minerals.

These are: copper, folate, iron, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc and any deficiency in these will reduce our immune systems potency. With some experts saying that vitamins C and D being the most vital.

The best and most usable source of these micronutrients is ordinary natural food and sunshine (without sunscreen, just 20 minutes a day between 11am and 3pm on your face and arms will keep you topped up with vitamin D).

The best way to ensure a steady supply of protective vitamin C is to take in small doses such as 150ml of orange juice 3 times a day along with eating well - see below.

For the best foods to be eating during this time, see - The top 10 foods to eat to Protect Your Immune System

References:

Lindsay B. Nicholson - The immune system
Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, U.K.

Immunity in brief - The Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University

Specific immune system health benefits of nutrients provided by the European Food Safety Authority

Sunshine - UK & Northern Europe - Apr/May/Sept - CheckYourFood.com

Matt Wright

Director - Nutrient expert, researcher & data miner

I am responsible for the scientific research and data oversight at the CheckYourFood Group. A great journey of discovery for me as I uncover the myriad of goodness that natural food contains and facilitate others to promote health and wellbeing.

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