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Staying Healthy During The #Coronavirus Quarantine

I’m staying home and self quarantining, like many Americans, and over a billion people around the world.  Frankly, I’m surprised it’s not more than that. I mean, maybe you don’t need to quarantine if you live in some remote part of Mongolia or Greenland or Svalbard or Antarctica.  But the rest of us should, if at all possible.

It’s fortunate for me that CPAs can work at home.  Although I could leave, because apparently my profession is “essential”.  I guess making sure people pay their taxes is critical. Read into that whatever you like.

Anyway, sitting around the house is a great way to get fat again, so I’m keeping up my exercise regimen and maintaining my diet as best I can.  And the good folks at Cronometer released a post a couple of days ago about what vitamins and minerals help our immune systems. The only problem is they didn’t say what kind of foods have these nutrients.  

So, I guess I will, by sharing the best sources I’ve found.  Naturally, this is not an all-inclusive list. It’s just based on what I’ve been eating for the past eight months since I started losing weight.

Vitamin A is first on the list.  It apparently helps strengthen skin, lung lining, and intestinal lining.  This keeps out nasty little things, like viruses. It also helps produce mucus to trap the little bugs.  Which is gross, but noticeably less gross than COVID-19.

And Vitamin A comes from things that make good sides for barbecue.  Like steamed carrots and collard greens. A helping of either of these not only has more than you need but way more.  And the greatest of all barbecue sides, mac and cheese, has a decent chunk too.  Clearly a higher power exists if mac and cheese helps fight off a virus. So if there’s a barbecue place delivering near you, now’s the time to take advantage.

Folate, AKA Vitamin B9, is another thing that helps.  Apparently it helps create DNA for new cells. Including cells like new white blood cells to fight off a pesky virus. Folate is readily available in everything you hated as a child.  Anything your mother plunked in front of you that grossed you out. Like asparagus, broccoli, and brussel sprouts. Of course, it’s also in stuff that didn’t make you hate your mother so much, like romaine lettuce.  

And it’s also present in the brown ambrosia of the gods, better known as coffee.  Of course, you have to drink it like a hardcore office worker (6-8 cups a day) to get a significant amount.  But any CPA can do this without batting an eye. It’s the only way to keep ourselves awake. Our work is a bit dull.

Vitamin C is also a key thing for a healthy immune system.  Like Vitamin A, it helps with skin health. And it’s an antioxidant.  Which means…I don’t know what it means. But according to people who do, antioxidants clean up crap (Free radicals, whatever the hell those are) that can damage your tissues.  Preventing that damage makes you less susceptible to infections. At least, I think that’s more or less what the Cronometer article said. I’m trying to translate the jargon as well as I can.  It’s probably a good thing I never went into medicine.

Any Florida Man like me knows that oranges, limes, and lemons have plenty of this.  Oranges (or just orange juice) are by far the best.  But if you’re one of those peculiar dieters that avoids fruits because of the sugar…well first off, you’re a weirdo.  You shouldn’t be afraid of fruit. But there are options for weirdos like this. Some of the aforementioned vegetables that made you hate your mom, such as broccoli and brussel sprouts, have a decent amount of this.  And bell peppers are not bad either.

Another thing you need is Vitamin D.  Vitamin D is heavily involved in the immune system and helps create proteins that attack viruses and bacteria.  If your body is at war with the novel coronavirus, then Vitamin D is the ammunition.

Fish and eggs have some, although the amount you’d need to get a day’s supply would be fattening and expensive.  So unless you plan to guzzle vitamin D fortified milk or other fortified foods or pop supplements (which is cheating), there’s really only one effective way to get this in sufficient quantity.  

Go outside.  In the sun. Thirty minutes in the sun should be enough.  Just don’t talk to anyone. Or at least keep a distance or a barrier between you.  Yelling at your neighbor from behind the fence is fine, for example.

Vitamin E is a big deal for your immune system too.  It’s also an antioxidant and heavily involved in the immune response.  I once wrote an entire piece about how to get this, since it can be a bit hard to come by.

It shows up in small amounts in lots of things, but only a few things have a lot of it.  The best sources I’ve found are almonds and sunflower seeds. A handful or so of either of these gets you half or more of your daily allowance.  That may depend on how big your hands are, though.

Another thing you need is omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.  Apparently, both are useful, but it’s important to keep them in proportion.  Omega-6 is something that shows up in a lot of things, especially various oils.  Cook your food in most cooking oils and you’ll get some. But omega-3 is harder to come by.

One good source is certain forms of fish.  Salmon, in particular, is a good source. And if you want to avoid sticker shock (Salmon is a bit pricey), you only need two ounces of salmon to get your omega-3 allowance for the day.  A pound can last a week and a day this way.

So add a couple of ounces to a surf and turf stir fry.  Although I suppose you could add it to other things too.  Stir fry is just about the only thing I know how to cook, though.  I really just randomly throw things in a pot and hope for the best.  But if I make sure I throw in two ounces of salmon, I’ll have plenty of omega-3.

Salmon isn’t the only option, though.  Almost any fish has some in it, although none are quite so good as salmon.  Or if you’re a vegan, you can go with flax seeds. Or if you’re a cheater, you can go with fish oil supplements or flaxseed oil supplements.

The last thing on the list is zinc.  It does lots of different things for your immune system.  And it’s easy to get. I get plenty of this by eating beef and turkey.  And sometimes I get it from oysters. But only when I feel like grossing my wife out.  She finds them repulsive, and I derive great joy and schadenfreude in watching the blood drain from her face when I eat them.

There’s one other food I should mention.  Spinach. A half-cup of cooked spinach has a nice bit of all of these, including a third of the daily folate and more than the total Vitamin A you need in a day.  I guess Popeye was on to something. Spinach may not actually give you the strength to fight off burly sailors, but it will help you fight off pandemics.  So it does give you kind of a superpower.

And there is one other option if you’re feeling lazy.  Fortified cereal. Normally, I’d call this cheating, but I’m willing to relax the rules for a viral apocalypse.  “Total” brand cereal is the best I’ve found. Total will give you all of the zinc you need, almost all of the folate and vitamin E you need, two-thirds of the C, and one-sixth of the A and D.  Start the day with this and you’ll have a hard time not getting enough of each.

So I’ve figured out the diet I need to avoid the creeping doom of the coronavirus.  I’ll have all the micro nutrients I need. I’ve stocked my fridge with plenty of the foods above.  Now I just need to worry about getting enough exercise. Without leaving the house. But I’ll save that for another piece.

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Published by drilldowndiet

Formerly obese CPA/health humorist using Cronometer and FitBod to lose weight. Sharing assorted life hacks to squeeze nutrition and exercise into a busy schedule. Also on Twitter at @drilldowndiet and Facebook.

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