You are social distancing, wearing a face mask, and washing your hands frequently, but probably wondering what more you can do to protect your family’s health during this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is that there is something more you can do to keep your body’s immune system working at its peak to defend your health and fight illness. No, it’s not an expensive once-a-day pill, a new dietary supplement, or an exciting new medical breakthrough. As a matter of fact, it’s not new at all. The answer? A healthy eating pattern, as well as other healthy lifestyle habits, can be the invisible armor in your family’s crusade against COVID-19 and other illnesses. While a specific food or nutrient cannot prevent or reduce your risk of COVID-19, a healthy diet of nutritious foods can give your body the extra protection that it needs.

What can you do to maintain your family’s shiny and sturdy immunity armor during this time? 

The secret is in nutritious, whole foods! Make it a habit to build your grocery lists and plan both your meals and snacks to include fruit, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. These foods have their own “superpowers” to support a healthy immune system that will be ready to work for you when you need it most. In fact, they have vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, D, and E, as well as zinc, which are especially plentiful in fruits and vegetables. 

Schools across the country have started to take more fun and creative approaches that encourage students to enjoy fruits and vegetables at lunchtime which can support their overall health and happiness. In addition to promoting a healthy immune system, a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables can also contribute to positive moods—who couldn’t use more positivity during this difficult time?

When you learn more about how eating healthy foods can make you feel better and protect your health, then you can better understand why eating them is so important. Try adding some of these mood and immunity-boosting foods to your meals:

  • Vitamin A, found in sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, broccoli, and kale, boosts immunity but can also contribute to healthy skin and hair which can help many of us feel more confident.
  • Vitamin C, plentiful in citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries, melon, and tomatoes, can aid our memory, will keep us smart and also works overtime for good immune health.
  • Vitamin D, commonly found in fatty fish, eggs, and milk, is also prominent in mushrooms.  This vitamin plays a role in mood regulation keeping us calm and happy during anxious times.
  • Vitamin E, plentiful in nuts and seeds, as well as avocado, red sweet pepper, mango, and green leafy vegetables, keeps our immune system and brain humming which can keep us alert while we fight off illness.
  • Zinc is best absorbed from animal sources but can also be found in plant foods such as beans, celery, green peas, mushrooms, and spinach.  It aids in muscle building to keep us strong and also contributes to our immune health.

Eating well, in addition to practicing other healthy behaviors, is a prescription for good health. Adding exercise, good sleep habits, and stress reduction techniques to a healthy diet may be just what your family needs to stay healthy and happy.