We know that those with comorbidities are more likely to have a severe case of the virus as well as be at an increased risk of death. Over half of all US adults have at least one chronic condition such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer. We were unhealthy and continue to be unhealthy and dying from diseases that are largely a direct result of our poor lifestyle choices. With over 97% of Americans being fiber deficient, it’s easy to see that most people are not getting enough whole plant foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Afterall, fiber only comes from plant foods.
People are understandably scared of COVID and many feel helpless, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Changing your lifestyle by making sure you’re managing your stress, getting at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night, maintaining social relationships, avoiding risky substances, exercising and eating a predominately whole foods plant-based diet is the secret not only to put up your best fight against COVID-19 but so many of the other viruses and chronic diseases that are killing us or leading us to have low quality of life.
Eating a whole foods plant-based diet strengthens your immune system. How? When you eat whole plant foods, you are eating an array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals that help the cells in your body function optimally. Think of it as putting the right kind of gas in your car. Those who eat more fruits and vegetables are consuming more vitamins such as vitamin C, lycopene and zeaxanthin which play a crucial role in your immune system. Having a strong immune system also significantly enhances your antibody response following vaccination.
Fiber is another reason why eating whole plant foods strengthens our immune system. Our immune system starts in our gut. The food we eat can either help or hinder the bacteria that live there. High fiber foods feed the good bacteria which literally thickens the lining of our gut, keeping toxins from causing inflammation throughout our body. Animal products and highly processed foods feed the bad bacteria and leads to gut dysbiosis or an imbalance of good vs bad bacteria in your gut leading to increased inflammation throughout your body.
Of course, eating a 100% whole foods plant-based diet will not completely take away your chance of having poor outcomes associated with contracting COVID-19, but it will lower your risk without negative side effects.
Author: Alison Gerrish PA-C, Certified Lifestyle Medicine Professional