Avoiding the COVID-19 (pounds)
Eating for health, immune system function, and body composition!
By Ashley Means, head trainer and owner of ANM Strength
We are all facing a scary and unknown time as COVID-19 spreads throughout the country, and across the globe. The resulting quarantine recommendations and social distancing has left a lot of us to fend for ourselves (across all fronts). While I cannot help you with homeschooling advice, I can help you with your at-home health and fitness!
In our current environment, there are so many unknowns, and so many things that we cannot control. We cannot focus on those things, though. Instead, we should be putting increased focus on the things we can control. Like our nutrition!
There are easy ways to keep your immune system functioning optimally, which can help to keep you healthy and give you a sense of control during an uncertain time.
The foods listed below are pretty readily available in grocery stores now, seeing as most of the population is hoarding milk, chips and canned goods. I make sure these are in my cart on every grocery run because, in my opinion, nutrient dense foods are going to get me a lot further than potato chips.
If you are carbohydrate-conscious and fruit tends to be cut from your diet, consider adding berries back in. They are rich in fiber and low on the glycemic index, making them a wonderful food for blood sugar balance. They are a powerful source of antioxidants and contain many vitamins and minerals such as manganese (which helps to control blood sugar). Research has shown that the anthocyanins in berries can help reduce inflammation in the body as well as help regulate the immune system.
Avocado has the highest concentration of fat-protecting antioxidants of any fruit or vegetable out there. It’s rich in vitamin E and vitamin C. It also contains 12 grams of fiber which feeds gut bacteria that reduces inflammation and boosts growth factors in the brain.
Dark Leafy Greens:
A study published in Neurology finds that seniors who had daily servings of dark leafy greens had a slower rate of cognitive decline. Why wait till age and cognitive decline kick in…get a jump start on it. These vegetables contain a range of nutrients and bioactive compounds, including vitamin E and K, lutein, beta carotene and folate.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil:
EVOO is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and powerful antioxidant polyphenols. Studies have shown liberal olive oil consumption to be associated with improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, and better cognitive function as it protects the brain and fights inflammation.
Cocoa is a powerful health booster, particularly because it is among the top highest ranking polyphenol-containing foods in the world (olive oil comes in at #61 where dark chocolate comes in at #4). Cocoa is also a top source of magnesium, a powerful and critically important mineral that most people under-consume. Aim for 85% cocoa to really reap the benefits
These foods are bonus; I know they are harder to find right now, but if your grocery store has them in stock be sure to add them to your cart.
Nutrient Density – For a Healthier Destiny
Eggs are the top known source of choline, which is critical for proper signaling at your neuronal membranes. It is the precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is important for learning, memory and deep sleep. While the body is able to produce small amounts of choline, we don’t produce enough for good health and therefore must get it from our food (choline was actually once considered a vitamin!). However, 90% of people don’t consume adequate amounts of choline. One egg contains 125 mg of choline in its yolk.
As you probably have heard, salmon is rich in omega-3’s. There are two types of omega-3’s found in the fat of fish: DHA, which is essential for healthy neuronal membranes, and EPA, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Another compound found in wild salmon is astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is a powerful carotenoid (pigment) antioxidant that has been shown to protect the brain from oxidative stress.
Grass Fed Beef*:
Red meat is a wonderful source of bioavailable (meaning easy for your body to absorb) minerals like iron and zinc. I do understand that you can get that from plants such as spinach and legumes, however, the body has to work hard to convert them into a form that we can use. Grass-fed beef is also a great source of omega 3’s, vitamin B12, vitamin E, and creatine which are all very beneficial for our bodies and brains.
*Some people are averse to eating red meat, which is totally fine! Do whatever works for you. The notion that red meat will give you cancer, though, is a little shaky. Red meat contains an amino acid called L-carnitine, which gets converted into a compound called TMAO when ingested. TMAO has been linked to cancer and heart disease in mice. However, this was in the context of a grain-rich diet. To put it simply, the makeup of our gut bacteria depends on how we eat. Those who eat high grain diets will have different gut bacteria than those who don’t. The research suggests red meat may have carcinogenic properties in the context of a grain-rich diet. So swap the bread for some of those dark leafy greens and you’ll reap the benefits of red meat without causing any harm.
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