SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus which causes COVID-19, has infected almost 2.5 million people around the world and claimed 170,000 lives. We don't know exactly why some people with coronavirus are asymptomatic while others develop life-threatening illness. But here's what we know so far.
Once a person has been infected with the virus, it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear (if they do at all) – known as the incubation period. The path from the point of infection can vary enormously. The body's immune system is critical for determining this. Having a strong immune response during the incubation period can prevent the infection taking hold, reduce the actual quantity of virus in the body and prevent it from getting to the lungs.
Our immune system offers us two lines of defense against viruses. The first is the innate system and includes physical barriers such as skin and mucous membranes (the lining of the throat and nose), various proteins and molecules found in tissues, as well as some of the white blood cells that attack invading organisms. This immune response is general, non-specific and kicks in quickly. The second line of defense is the adaptive immune response. This takes longer to initiate but once established, is much more efficient at eradicating a specific infection when encountering it again.
Here are some key nutrients that could boost your adaptive immune response:
- Vitamin C: broccoli, cantaloupe, cauliflower, kale, kiwi, orange juice, papaya, red, green or yellow pepper, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes.
- Vitamin D: tuna, salmon, dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, cheese, eggs.
- Prebiotics: Yogurt, kombucha, whole-grain bread, avocado, peas, soybeans, potato skins, apple cider vinegar.
- Zinc: meat, shellfish, legumes, seeds, nuts, whole grains.
- Proteins: egg, tuna, chicken, turkey.