Coronavirus and Your Immune Health

Brittany Trueman, MHSc, RD
February 11, 2020

Last month, a novel coronavirus (now formally called COVID-19) was identified originating from Wuhan, China. Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses in humans, particularly in the fall and winter months. They affect the throat and lungs, causing a range of common to severe symptoms including coughing, fever, difficulty breathing, pneumonia, or kidney failure. Individuals that may be at a higher risk are those with a weakened immune system, such as older adults or those with chronic diseases like diabetes or cancer.

Nutrition and the Immune System

Proper nutrition is an important part of having a healthy immune system. The best way to support your immune health is to eat according to Canada’s Food Guide. Following this guide will ensure that you are eating a wide variety of foods and getting all the nutrients your immune system needs to function at its best.

The following are some nutrients that play a specific role in immune health.

Food sources of these nutrients are preferred; however, supplementation is sometimes needed for some individuals. Be sure to speak to a dietitian to determine your supplement needs and prevent over-supplementation as high doses of some nutrients can be toxic and have negative side effects.

In addition to eating right, make sure youare drinking plenty of fluids, exercising, and getting restful sleep.

Reduce Your Risk

Public Health Ontario and the Ministry of Health presently consider the risk to Ontarians to be low. To protect yourself and reduce the spread of illnesses:

Individuals experiencing coronavirus symptoms are advised to speak to their health care practitioner and inform them of any recent travels.

For more information visit Public Health Ontario or the Governmentof Ontario, or call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000.

References:

Government of Canada. 2020. Canada’s FoodGuide. https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/

Catharine Atchinson, RD. Healthy Families BC. 2018. Nutrition for a Healthy Immune System. https://www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/home/blog/nutrition-healthy-immune-system

Eat Right. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2019. Protect your health with immune-boosting nutrition. https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/preventing-illness/protect-your-health-with-immune-boosting-nutrition

Unlock Food. Dietitians of Canada. 2018. Get the facts on the immune system. https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Immune-System/Get-the-facts-on-the-immune-system.aspx

Public Health Ontario. 2020. Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/diseases-and-conditions/infectious-diseases/respiratory-diseases/novel-coronavirus

Government of Ontario. 2020. Wuhan Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). https://www.ontario.ca/page/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov