Advice for all of us, regardless of our age…
What is different about how Elders experience COVID19?
The over-simple answer is “less immune system function”. More accurately, elders in the USA are generally lower in what is called anti-oxidant reserve. As we age, we tend to have a smaller appetite, so we eat less in general and we can be especially low in antioxidant rich foods because these tend to be veggies and fruits, the sort of stuff that requires frequent shopping to keep fresh and available in our kitchens.
Also, the older we are the more likely we will have developed health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and COPD or emphysema. Lots of us spent some years as tobacco smokers too. All these conditions weaken the parts of our body defenses that are particularly needed if we get ill with this virus. The following information is brought to you in part by our colleague Kate Stage, ND at Rockwood Natural Medicine Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ.
What can elders do NOW to strengthen our systems
against COVID19? It turns out there are two relatively easy things you can add to your day that will rapidly improve your antioxidant reserves. You can eat to support immune function. Foods rich in vitamins and minerals support proper immune system functioning. Research out of China, specific to elders infected with this virus, encourages us to use these two things:
1. Green tea! a component in green tea called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is a potent antioxidant and corona virus protectant. If you buy green tea capsules to take, be sure the EGCG is standardized to 80%, with 50% ECGC. If it doesn’t say that on the label, it may not be worth you money.You can also drink green tea, any of the many versions, 1 to 3 strong cups every day. It does have caffeine.
2. Broccoli Sprouts! Ok, this isn’t easy as green tea, it’s a little different to eat sprouted seeds, but hey, you should be staying home anyway and you can have fun learning a new hobby! For the old hippies among us, this is the same deal as when we were sprouting alflafa and mung beans in canning jars with pieces of panty hose stretched across the top to filter- ah the good old days. Broccoli sprouts are really rich in sulforophane antioxidants . You can sprout your own in 3 days; they are also available at the Good Food Store in Missoula
Additionally, there are food items that support our anti-viral mechanisms:
3. Mushrooms! particularly reishi, maitake, and shiitake, but also the brown capped Crimini mushrooms and even white button type are medicinal. Making a mushroom broth or tea is an excellent way to deliver the key constituents of the mushrooms, and feels nourishing on a cold winter day.
4. Aromatic root veggies and spices are antimicrobial and rich with antioxidant action too. Include extra onions, garlic, and ginger into your diet for an immune boost. If you have fresh rosemary, thyme, and/or mint, these will also support your health during flu and cold season.
5.Foods rich in vitamin C include peppers, papaya, broccoli, pineapple, Brussels sprouts, kiwi, oranges, cantaloupe, and kale. Strawberries also, but of all those foods strawberries are the most full of agricultural chemicals, so only eat them if they are organically grown. You do not want to waste precious body resources on chemical pollution when you need it for viral protection.
6. Foods rich in zinc: oysters, garlic, sesame seeds, chickpeas, organic beef, wild salmon, egg yolks, mushrooms, turkey, and lamb.
7. Foods can also diminish your immune response. Avoiding any foods you know don’t sit well with you is a good start. If you are prone to congestion, avoiding cow milk/dairy products will support your body’s own process of clearing mucus congestion. Finally, AVOID SUGAR AND SWEETENERS, which markedly decrease your immune system response. Stevia is ok, but honey, syrup, molasses and the like are not helpful now.