What you should eat to stay healthy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 17, 2020

By Deirdre Parker Smith


As we all face the threat of coronavirus, and still, the flu, what can we do in our diets to boost our immunity?

Like everything else with this virus there is a lot of information out there — some of it good, some really bad.

According to Eating Well magazine, co-founders of Vous Vitamin say people should avoid alcohol consumption.

Dr. Romy Black and Dr. Arielle Levitan say having just one drink could extend an illness by days. The alcohol disrupts the gastrointestinal tract, which keeps our immune system going.

Alcohol can also interact with medications. People taking prescriptions should pay attention to pharmacists’ advice and the labels on medications.

But what can you eat that will help your immune system? A balanced diet is the easy answer. Veggie-packed soups are one way to keep your gut in balance and strengthen your immune system.

Some doctors suggest vitamin C and zinc-rich foods. It’s not yet clear if elderberry syrup has the touted effects of boosting immunity. But some people do benefit from it, particularly with the common cold.

Harvard University emphasizes that eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables is important, but so is adequate sleep. Don’t stay up all night watching horror stories about the coronavirus.

Medical News Today has created a list of food that may help, and we’ve heard a lot about these over the last few years.

1. Blueberries, full of antioxidants. Toss them on cereal, in yogurt, into a salad, use them as the base of your smoothie or protein drink. Blueberry pie doesn’t really count because of the sugar.

2. Dark chocolate has another kind of antioxidants, with protects the body from free radicals, which came with pollutants. Get the highest percentage of cocoa solids you can find, 60%-70% is good.

3. Turmeric may boost your immune response and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory efforts. You can buy the spice powdered, or in some stores, raw. It is a small, bright orange-yellow root that looks sort of like a smaller version of ginger.

4. Oily fish, like salmon, tuna, mackerel have good omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation.

5. Broccoli is packed with vitamin C and antioxidants. It’s better for you without cheese sauce, but eating it regularly is a good idea.

6. All hail the mighty sweet potato, bright with beta carotene, a source of vitamin A. It also contains fiber, good for the gut.

7. Popeye was right about spinach, which has flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamin C and E. Flavonoids may help with the common cold.

8. Ginger has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Plus, it can settle an upset stomach.

9. Garlic. Are you seeing a pattern here? Flavorful foods are good for you. These are the ingredients that can make a delicious and healthy dinner. Garlic is a common home remedy for colds and other illnesses.

10. Green tea has less caffeine and more flavonoids, which help with colds.

11. Kefir is a fermented drink that has live cultures of bacteria that are beneficial in fighting bad bacteria, reducing inflammation and increasing antioxidant activities.

12. Toss some sunflower seeds in your breakfast bowl, salads and dinners; they are rich in vitamin E.

13. Almonds get high marks as a vitamin E source, but they also have manganese, magnesium and fiber. A small handful makes a good snack.

14. Oranges, what we always turned to for vitamin C, remain a good source. Eat the fruit and avoid the sugary juice. Kiwi fruit also has the same amount of vitamin C.

15. Red bell pepper. Another way to get vitamin C and lower in sugar than many fruits. Stir-fry or roast to retain nutrients.

The Cleveland Clinic, a well-respected health care system, encourages people to get eight essential vitamins and minerals to keep your immune system working.

In addition to vitamins C and E and A, clinicians say it’s important to get vitamin D which is in salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines, as well as fortified milk, orange juice and cereals. Also consider taking a supplement.

Get more folate or folic acid, which come from dried beans and leafy green vegetables, as well as in enriched breads and 100 percent whole grain products.

For iron, look to lean poultry, seafood and beans, broccoli and kale.

Selenium can slow the body’s overactive responses. That’s where the garlic, broccoli, tuna and brazil nuts and barley come in.

Here’s your excuse to eat more oysters — they contain zinc, which is important to slow down the immune response and control inflammation. You can also find zinc in crab, lean meats and poultry, as well as beans, yogurt and chickpeas.

If you can’t find fresh foods, frozen is fine, but avoid canned vegetables, which often contain too much sodium or have been processed to the point where nutrients have been lost.

Southwestern Three-Bean & Barley Soup

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, diced

1 large stalk celery, diced

1 large carrot, diced

9 cups water

4 cups (32-ounce carton) reduced-sodium chicken broth, “no-chicken” broth or vegetable broth

1/2 cup pearl barley

1/3 cup dried black beans

1/3 cup dried great northern beans

1/3 cup dried kidney beans

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

3/4 tsp. salt

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add water, broth, barley, black beans, great northern beans, kidney beans, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Bring to a lively simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, 1 3/4 to 2 1/2 hours (adding more water, 1/2 cup at a time, if necessary or desired). Season with salt.

Eating Well

Muesli is a combination of uncooked rolled oats, fruit, nuts and/or seeds popular in Switzerland. Look for unsweetened muesli for this recipe.

Tutti-Frutti Muesli

1/2 cup non-fat or low fat plain yogurt

1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed

1/4 cup diced apple

1/4 cup diced banana

1/4 cup unsweetened muesli

1/2 tsp. honey or pure maple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve. Makes one serving. You can easily multiply as needed.

Eating Well

Spaghetti Squash and Zucchini

1 cup spaghetti squash

1 cup julienne or spiraled zucchini, skin on

1/2 cup broccoli florets, blanched

1/2 julienned roasted red pepper

1 tsp. chopped basil

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup water

1 tsp. unsalted butter

1 tsp. each salt and pepper

1 tsp. toasted, slivered almonds

1 Tbsp. shredded parmesan cheese

1/2 cup crushed tomatoes

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, as garnish

Heat a sauté pan to medium high and add the water and olive oil to bring to a simmer. Add the red peppers and zucchini and cook for 2 minutes. Add spaghetti squash, broccoli and cauliflower. Season with salt and pepper and cook 2 minutes.

Add the butter until melted, and then add basil. In second sauté pan, heat the crushed tomatoes to a simmer. Sauce can be held warm. Spoon the tomato sauce into a pasta bowl, making a large circle in the middle of the plate. Mound the spaghetti squash mixture in the middle of the plate. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and almonds. Drizzle oil over the top and around the dish and serve.

Orange Roasted Salmon

2 oranges, sliced into rounds

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

5 (6 oz.) salmon fillets

1 Tbsp. lemon zest

1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 Tbsp. dried parsley

1/2 cup orange juice

1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice (from the zested lemon)

1 Tbsp. honey

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, stir together the lemon zest, garlic powder and dried parsley. Place the orange slices in a single layer in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Place a layer of onion slices over the orange. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with half the herb mixture.

Place the dish in the preheated oven and roast for about 25 minutes, until the onions are browned and tender. Remove dish from oven and increase temperature to 450.

Carefully push the orange and onion slices towards the edges of the dish and place the salmon fillets in the center. Season with the remaining herb mixture. Whisk together the orange and lemon juices with the honey and pour evenly over the salmon.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the salmon is opaque in the center. Remove filets to a serving dish and garnish with roasted onions and  fresh orange slices, discarding the cooked slices.

Adapted from Delish