Everywhere we turn we are seeing the affects of this craziness in our daily lives. Schools are closing, businesses are working remotely or closing, many restaurants can no longer offer dine in options, and long grocery store lines with bare shelves are a daily sight. It’s easy to let these things overwhelm us and cause us to panic. But we should not let fear take over, while at the same time being smart & vigilant to protect ourselves and others.
5 Ways to protect yourself & boost your immunity
1. Follow the CDC, WHO, & Local Government Guidelines
First and foremost, we need to follow all the guidelines of our CDC, the World Health Organization, and our local governments. The difficult decisions they are having to make to restrict large groups, closing schools, encouraging people to stay home, and social distancing is CRUCIAL to flatten the curve. These restrictions may be different in areas that are hardest hit so pay attention to your local news to make sure you are abiding by the guidelines. These are small inconveniences in the short term that will help us win the war in the longterm MUCH more quickly and with less deaths.
Here are some of the important guidelines we all need to follow:
- Clean your hands often – wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Do this after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or being in a public place.
- Avoid contact with those who are sick, especially if you are at higher risk.
- Stay home if you are sick, unless you need to seek medical care.
- Cover sneezes & coughs with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow. Then immediately wash your hands.
- If you are sick, wear a facemask when you will be around other people or in a medical office.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces – doorknobs, tables, countertops, light switches, desks, phones, handles, keyboards, faucets, toilets, and sinks.
- Avoid unnecessary travel or public places. If you can work from home, do so.
- Distance yourselves from others by keeping at least 6-10 feet between you and others.
2. Eat More Nutrient Dense Foods to Boost Immunity
Your best bet in protecting yourself, is to boost your immunity by eating nutrient dense foods so that you have a good fighting chance should you come in contact with ANY virus. Studies have shown that those who eat the most fruits & vegetables have a much stronger immunity response than those who don’t. Even just getting 5 servings a day of fruits & vegetables, compared to 2 or less has a dramatic impact on immunity in the elderly.
The most nutrient dense diet is a whole food plant based diet. By eating mostly whole plant foods and avoiding animal products, dairy, processed foods, and oils, you get all the macronutrients you need (protein, carbohydrates, fat) and also an abundance of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, & phytochemicals). The Standard American Diet (SAD), has an overabundance of macronutrients (calories), yet is deficient in micronutrients. This is why chronic disease is so common in our society.
Supplements cannot make up for the tens of thousands of phytonutrients that ONLY come from whole unprocessed plants and many of which haven’t even been discovered yet. Fiber is also very important to our gut health and good bacteria that play a part in our immune system. Fiber ONLY comes from plants and 98% of Americans do not get the recommended fiber intake of about 35-40 grams a day.
Learn more about nutrient density in Dr. Furhman’s new book, Eat for Life.
What are the most nutrient dense foods?
Nutrient Dense Foods:
- Green leafy vegetables – kale, arugula, spinach, romaine, turnip/collard greens, green lettuce, bok choy, swiss chard, etc
- Other colorful non-starchy vegetables – cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash, purple cabbage, avocado, green beans, etc
- Starchy vegetables – sweet potato, white potato, red potato, corn, pumpkin, beets, carrots, butternut squash, etc
- Legumes – black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), tofu, edamame, pinto beans, white beans, lentils, green peas, split peas, black eyed peas, purple hull peas, etc
- Fruits (not juices) – berries, melons, apples, bananas, oranges, pineapple, cherries, peaches, plums, lemons, limes, raisins, dates, dried cranberries, etc.
- Whole Grains – brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, old fashioned oats, steel cut oats, whole grain pasta, wheat bran, wheat germ, farro, red rice, black rice, whole grain flour or 100% whole grain bread/tortillas, etc
- Nuts/Seeds – walnuts, almonds, cashews, flax seed, chia seed, sunflower seeds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, etc.
You want to eat a variety of nutrient dense, whole plant foods.
Foods that are NOT nutrient dense (avoid these):
- animal products – beef, chicken, pork, turkey, eggs, seafood & fish
- processed meats – bacon, ham, jerky, pepperoni, sausage, deli meats
- dairy – milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter
- processed foods – oils, margarine, chips, cookies, cakes, white flour, white rice, white bread, vegan faux meats
These nutrient-poor foods increase chronic inflammation in our bodies which affects our immune system.
Related Reading – Top 7 Superfoods for Super Immunity
How to stock up on nutrient dense foods:
To avoid having to go to the grocery store often, stock up on foods that will not spoil after a few days. Frozen fruits & veggies are flash frozen at their peak ripeness locking in their nutrients. Try to avoid canned veggies that have a lot of added salt & lose nutrients in the canning process.
Having these staples on hand can help you make nutrient dense meals in a flash:
- Frozen veggies
- Frozen fruits
- Dried & Canned Beans & Lentils – low sodium and BPA free cans
- Canned tomato & pasta sauce products – low sodium & BPA free cans
- Whole grain pastas and bean flour pastas
- Bagged brown rice and quinoa
- Old fashioned & steel cut oats
- Frozen breads like Ezekiel
- Shelf-stable plant milks
- Tofu (can be frozen)
Discover all the amazing Whole Plant Based Foods that you can find at any grocery store with my Ultimate Plant Based Grocery List. Click here to subscribe and get the Ultimate Plant Based Grocery List delivered instantly to your inbox for FREE!
What to do if you can’t leave your house?
Order groceries online
I know I’ll be taking advantage of all the online options like Amazon so I don’t even have to leave my house and still have fresh nutrient dense, immunity boosting foods delivered.
Many stores like Walmart, HEB, & Kroger still offer grocery pickup (and some delivery). Time slots go fast, so you may have to plan ahead a few days in advance, but you will most likely get everything you are looking for if the store worker is picking it for you.
Amazon has its Amazon Fresh program that is partnered with Whole Foods and Prime Pantry. You can order your groceries and have them delivered without leaving the comfort of your home. However, because of increased demand, confirm availability at checkout during this time.
MamaSezz Whole Food Plant Based Delivery
I did an order from MamaSezz last week so that I would have plenty of heat and eat, whole food plant based meals ready to go! No cooking required! Mama Sezz has free delivery on all bundles in the continental United States. Order by Sunday night at 8pm EST each week to have your food delivered by the next Thursday or Friday.
MamaSezz has always taken extraordinary measures to ensure the quality and safety of their food. They follow strict protocols which has consistently earned them the highest marks from certifying agency inspectors.
Right now, MamaSezz will include a free BAG OF FRESH GREENS with any Bundle Order! They know that getting fresh produce is a concern right now and wants to help our community continue to eat healthy during this uncertain time.
We love their foods and they are all 100% WFPB, vegan, oil free, gluten free, low sodium, no refined sugar, dairy free, preservative free, peanut free, sesame free and egg free. Our favorites are the Lazy Lasagna, Love it Loaf, Scalloped Potatoes, Mama’s Mac Sauce, Corn Chowdah, Mama’s Burgers, Millie’s Chili, Breakfast Sausage, Strong Heart Beets, & Walnut Taco Meat. Mmmmm.
There are so many great bundles to choose from like:
- Family Bundle
- Get Me Started Meal Bundle
- Guaranteed Weight Loss Bundle
- Peak Performance Bundle
- Just for Me Bundle
- S.O.S. Free Bundle
- Elisha Lee Specialty Bundle (Eat to Live)
- Chef AJ Specialty Bundle
- and more!
They now have a NEW Be Prepared Bundle with delicious immunity-boosting products: Hungarian Mushroom Stew, Moroccan Stew, Millie’s Chili, Turmeric Strong Heart Beets, Corn Chowdah, Creamy Broccoli Soup, Small Granola, & Lazy Lasagna. Eating healthy never tasted so good! You can even get $15 off this Be Prepared Bundle with code PREPARED.
All their food lasts up to 2 weeks unopened in the refrigerator and freeze well for months (except cornbread).
3. Get Good Sleep to improve Immune System
Sleep is vital in boosting our immune system and ability to fight off disease. A good night’s sleep enhances our immune cells’ response to illness. You want to try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep at night. Do this by going to bed each night at the same time, turning off TV & electronics an hour before bed, not drinking caffeine after Noon, leaving phones in another room at night, and making your room as dark as possible & distraction free.
4. Get Out and Exercise to Reduce Stress
Exercise is so important for our overall health and stress reduction, which impacts our immunity. While we are trying to practice social distancing and you want to avoid gyms, there are still many ways to get exercise to boost your immunity. If you live in a neighborhood, try to get outside at least once a day and take a walk or jog or spend time in your backyard. If that is not possible, try doing indoor exercise like walking, climbing stairs, yoga, or online exercise programs.
5. Don’t Smoke or Vape to Reduce Complications
Smoking or vaping increases the risk of complications from any virus or even the flu. In China, the risk of death has been 14 times higher in those that were smokers than those who were non-smokers. Smoking lowers your immunity and increases your risk of respiratory complications! There is no better time to quit than now.
It’s important for us all to take steps in not only preventing the spread of the virus, but also boosting our immunity so that we have less to worry about. Nutrient dense foods, sleep, exercise, and quitting smoking or vaping are all very effective ways of protecting ourselves.
Get some EASY immune-boosting whole food plant based recipes:
- Superfood Loaded Black Bean Burgers
- Easy Homemade Muesli Recipe
- Italian Cashew Creamed Kale
- Healthy Vegan Carrot Cake
- Vegan Black Bean & Spinach Enchiladas
- Healthy Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
- Slow Cooker Red Lentil Curry
- Southwestern Potachos
- Coconut Crusted Tofu with Pineapple Dipping Sauce
Make sure to join Simply Plant Based Kitchen and grab my ULTIMATE Plant Based Grocery Shopping List for FREE! Fill out the form below!