LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. — A line of defense against COVID-19 could come from something you do every day – eating, but it’s all about eating the right foods.
While it’s not a cure-all, proper nutrition can help build up your immune system and reduce inflammation.
When James Brooks, a resident of Lehigh Acres, was battling the virus, he ended up changing his whole life.
“I’m down 30 pounds, I work out every day, I’m happy to live. I got another chance to live, it’s an eye-opener,” Brooks said in a previous interview.
Now, Brooks said he’s lost 65 pounds since August. He’s cut his old snacking habits, eating fried food and having drinks full of sugar, which can cause inflammation.
“Anything that causes inflammation in your body will decrease your ability to fight infections,” Dr. Salvatore Lacagnina, also known as Dr. Sal, said.
Dr. Sal runs Concierge Lifestyle Medicine and is a partner of Vibrant Beat in Fort Myers.
“We can’t replace nature in a pill,” Dr. Sal said.
Dr. Sal stressed that you can get many benefits and most of the vitamins you need by choosing the right foods.
“Say a tomato as an example, it probably has 100 different healthy chemicals,” Dr. Sal said.
Dr. Sal pointed out that obesity is one risk factor when it comes to COVID-19, so now more than ever it’s a good idea to practice good habits.
With many fighting the virus at home, Dr. Sal said it’s important to get enough water and calories.
“When you have an infection, your cells need to recover. They can’t recover without proper energy. It’s just like if you were trying to run your car, you couldn’t run your car without gas and oil,” said Dr. Sal.
One of the most common side effects of the coronavirus is exhaustion, but it’s important to get up and around not only to avoid blood clots but also to get your nutrients that can help with inflammation.
“The virus in and of itself is an inflammatory disease,” Dr. Sal said.
So what foods can reduce inflammation and boost immunity?
“Lots of vegetables, and fruits do the same.” Dr. Sal said.
He said you should also make sure you’re eating healthy fats, like those found in avocados, and protein.
“You can’t run your cells without proteins, fats and carbohydrates,” Dr. Sal said.
Dr. Sal recommends a plant-based diet and encourages people to look for less processed sources of protein like nuts and tofu.
“Knowing what really is healthy, you can avoid medication, surgeries and procedures and I think that really is the goal,” Dr. Sal said.
Whether you’re battling COVID-19 or not, experts have proven that what you put in your body will impact your overall mental and physical health.
“It is the number one thing, absolutely hands down,” Dr. Sal said.
If you don’t take it from doctors, take it from Brooks, the 34-year-old Lehigh Acres man who fought the virus and focused on nutrition – changing your lifestyle can save your life.
“For my wife and my kids, you know, I said I can’t be selfish, I can’t not try for them,” Brooks said.
Dr. Sal said it’s important to talk to your doctor about your own personal health needs and goals.