Certain foods may reduce anxiety and boost the immune system

Certain foods may reduce anxiety and boost the immune system

Apr 06, 2020Uma Naidoo

Many people feel stressed and anxious as we live through the changes of the coronavirus pandemic. One Boston doctor says, over time, that anxiety can impact your immune system but there are things you can do to counteract it.

Dr. Uma Naidoo says there is a connection between what you eat and how you feel, both physically and mentally. She is the director of nutritional and lifestyle psychiatry at Mass General Hospital. Advertisement

“How we eat affects our immunity. We could boost our immunity but in so doing we could also improve our mood and anxiety symptoms,” Naidoo said.

A good place to start is in the vegetable drawer.

“Red bell peppers have one of the highest levels of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps build up our white blood cells, helps build up our immunity,” Naidoo said.

Add them to salads, soups or stir fries and consider keeping citrus fruit handy. They’re also packed with vitamin C. Next, think about protein.

“Things like lean proteins like chicken and turkey have vitamin B6, also important for our immunity,” Naidoo said.

Also, don’t be afraid to add spices. Ginger, garlic and the capsaicin found in hot chili peppers are all good additions. Turmeric has shown promise as an anti-viral agent. Naidoo tells her patients to use it along with black pepper.

“Always add a pinch of black pepper because black pepper activates the active ingredient in turmeric,” Naidoo said.

Naidoo said none of these suggestions replace what we know about staying healthy. Wash your hands, social distance and stay home if you’re sick but even trying just one of these ideas could help in the long run.

If you feel anxiety or worry is becoming overwhelming and interfering with your daily life,
call your doctor for advice. Telehealth is up and running in many practices right now.

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