Nutrition: Take care of yourself, now more than ever


My daughter called to tell me she was sent home from work when she told her boss she was not feeling well. “I hope I don’t have the ‘virus,’” she said. (She doesn’t.) Still, in motherly fashion, I reminded her to follow her physician’s instructions to stay home until she was well.

During this coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises us all to wash our hands frequently, avoid touching our eyes, nose and mouth and “stay home when you are sick.”

And then, as I lovingly instructed my daughter, do what you can at home to get well. Remember, being quarantined is the means by which we can keep from spreading germs and viruses to others in the community. And at the same time, we can inform these disease-causing visitors that they are not welcome for an extended visit.

Here’s a short checklist that may be helpful:

Chicken soup. Is there any merit to the longstanding tradition of sipping chicken soup when we’re not feeling well? Sure is. Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical School found a number of substances in chicken soup with medicinal benefits. Besides being a soothing source of necessary fluids, traditional chicken soup (chicken, broth and vegetables) provides immune-boosting protein along with substances from onions, carrots and other vegetables that can fight inflammation.

I recently sampled Zoup! — a line of yummy ready-to-use soup broths that feature chicken (original and low sodium), bone and veggie (vegan) broth. Broth makes a comforting warm beverage or use it in your favorite chicken soup recipe.

Take a daily multivitamin. Especially if you don’t feel like eating much or your supply of fresh and frozen produce is limited. Supplemental nutrients in a balanced multivitamin/mineral preparation can work toward your wellness when your appetite is off. Look especially for formulas that contain about 100% of the immune-essential vitamins A, C, E and the mineral zinc.

Sip on ginger tea. It’s another way to keep those fluids down. Ginger may also help relieve nausea and vomiting, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Stock up on cultured foods — not high society products but those that contain probiotic cultures. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in fermented and other cultured foods such as yogurt and kefir. Although researchers still haven’t identified all the specific strains of healthful bacteria that work together to enhance our immune system, there is some evidence that probiotics can give us an extra boost of immunity. And don’t forget to feed your gut’s good bacteria with foods that contain dietary fiber: fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts.

Rest! It’s during sleep that the body recovers and arms itself for battle against germs and viruses.

Don’t panic. This too, shall pass. Take care.

Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian nutritionist affiliated with the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula


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