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Feb 20, 2020

Healthy Living: Boosting Your Immune System

It can be scary to tune in to the latest updates of the new coronavirus – Covid-19. Even as the number of new cases continues to rise, the epicentre of the virus continues to be in China. Still, countries across the world are working and collaborating to reduce the spread of the new virus. As a bystander in this process, it can make you feel helpless, but you certainly are not. In the middle of the flu season and the face of the global threat of Covid-19, it is crucial that you keep your immune system healthy and functioning. One of the best ways to do so is by having the right diet. We get some tips for boosting our immune system in tonight’s Healthy Living.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

By now, you have undoubtedly have heard the calls from health officials to exercise proper hygiene in the face of the global threat of Covid-19. Washing your hands, not touching your face, coughing in your elbow, or using tissues for those sneezes and coughs will go a long way in helping to prevent you from contracting the new virus or the far more common flu virus.

Prevention may be the first strategy, but if you come in contact with a virus, your body does its work as well. The immune system in the body is a natural defense that would kick into gear. Think of it as your army, ready to fight off diseases that do enter your system. Which is why now is the best time to strengthen your immune system.


Doris Sutherland

Doris Sutherland, Nutritionist

“It is important to boost our immune system specifically to improve our white blood cells levels since these help us to prevent infections.”


Nutritionist, Doris Sutherland, says some of the essential nutrients for a healthy immune system are Vitamins A, C, and D, Zinc and Probiotics.


Doris Sutherland

“You want to start with off with foods that have Vitamin D. Vitamin D tends to alert the body when it is in contact with a certain type of infection. You find vitamin D in fish, in eggs, in milk in sardines, or you could also find it fortified cereals that have vitamin D. What is also important foods that have vitamin A and C these two work similar since they help to fight the infection when we already have it. It is very important that we do consume vitamin C from foods because our body does not make it or store it. Many people that do have recurrent flu they are lacking Vitamin C foods. Both of them you find in bright red collar fruits and vegetables, specifically tomatoes, oranges, you can also find in tangerines, limes, squash, red and yellow bell peppers, beans, and most importantly, green vegetables. The main one with the highest source of vitamin C is broccoli. Zinc is also important because zinc helps to improve the function of our immune cells; you find zinc in a limited amount of foods. However, you can find in mushroom in spinach in tomatoes and also in some types of lean red meat.”


As for probiotics, it’s not just good for your digestion, but also as good for your immune system. Yogurt is one of the best sources for probiotics.


The latest studies examining the Covid-19 outbreak show that about eighty precent of the cases are mild, and those most vulnerable to severe illness are the elderly and the sick. The highest fatality rate is in people over eighty. Similarly, the elderly are more susceptible to severe complications of regular flu and cold. That’s because as we age, our immune systems can weaken.


Doris Sutherland

“Normally, we do see elderly people more with a cold because their immune system is a little bit low. They also have a low intake of fluid. Dehydration can also be a cause of having recurrent flu or recurrent cold. So they do have to start consuming these foods that all have these nutrients that we mentioned—Vitamin A, D, C, and Zinc. The older we get, the lower our levels become. We start consuming food less, and the way your body process it is a lot less than when we were younger.”

As for the use of supplements, Sutherland says it best to get nutrients from foods, but some can benefit from supplements.


Doris Sutherland

“You don’t want to always refer to supplements for treatment of just a cold. It’s better to get it from natural foods. However, if you are a person who has been hospitalized for pneumonia or you have a cold more than three or four times a year, then you can probably use the supplement, but it always better to get it from the foods that you eat.”

To date, Belize has no confirmed cases of Covid-19. Either way, start with your best defense – a healthy immune system. It will help you ward off the new virus and existing viruses like the flu that attempt to attack your body.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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