By Kristen Bell, Registered Dietitian
Sports Dietitian for Red Bull North America
Coronavirus has unequivocally turned our life upside down in so many ways. As we continue to navigate our new way of life all while trying not to contract the virus, there are a few major risk factors that may increase our chances of getting it or making the virus worse. Let’s chat about what that may be, and how we can avoid these risk factors!
According to a study published in JAMA, (Journal of American Medical Association) 41.7% of the 5,700 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 had a Body Mass Index ≥30. The average female in America has a BMI of 29.6 which is considered overweight.
The same study showed that 33.8% of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 had diabetes, one of the most common comorbidities of obesity.
Try to implement the following tips to build a solid immune system, healthy body composition, and decrease your chances of contracting Covid-19.
- Focus on Anti-inflammatory foods: These foods are rich in color such as a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as spices. Garlic, turmeric and ginger are all anti-inflammatory spices that add a lot of zest and health benefits to your cooking. Eat a variety of organic (and ideally local) protein sources such as fish, chicken, turkey, bison, and eggs. By adding in these kinds of foods you will avoid deficiencies and increase your intake of essential micronutrients. A daily dose of fresh fruit and vegetables (5 a day minimum) is highly recommended.
- Avoid sugary beverages and desserts: This not only adds on unwanted pounds but has very little nutritional benefit and can decrease the strength of your immune system and the body’s ability to fight off infection.
- Facilitate good sleep: Adopt strategies that allow you to get 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night. Avoid screen time at least 1 hour before bed and keep your room cool and dark.
- Avoid alcohol: Both excessive and binge drinking impairs immune function for several hours.
- Multivitamin: If it is difficult to eat varied foods on a daily basis. Try taking a multivitamin and mineral supplements. Here is a clean brand that I recommended: Mega Foods Multivitamin.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D represents an inexpensive and potentially powerful way to help balance the immune system and boost its function. Get Vitamin D with 10-15 minutes a day of sunlight, add in foods such as fatty fish, eggs, cheese, and beef liver. You can also supplement with 600-1000 IU daily. Vitamin D can be found in liquid form as well. Here is my preferred brand, Nordic Naturals Vitamin D
- Zinc lozenges: When respiratory illness symptoms begin, there is some evidence that taking zinc lozenges (>75 mg zinc/day; high ionic zinc content) could decrease the number of days that symptoms last. Zinc Lozenges
- Measure and monitor: Look for early signs and symptoms of illness is key. Report to a doctor as soon as symptoms start to get tested, and quarantine accordingly.