Antiviral diet is a way to improve the body’s immunity and reduce the risk of infections, mainly viral, but also bacterial or fungal. Nowadays, a large part of society has problems with maintaining high immunity. An unhealthy lifestyle and unhealthy diet contribute to the weakening of the body’s natural ability to block pathogens and inhibit their development, if they manage to enter the system. Antiviral diet, through the use of a large amount of foods with immunostimulating properties, will contribute to the improvement of disturbed immunity and reduce susceptibility to infections. It will help us better protect ourselves from flu, flu-like infections and the coronavirus (Covid-19) that has been crippling our civilization lately. Read the article and learn how to compose a menu to strengthen your body and avoid getting sick!
Table of contents
- 1 Why do we get sick more often in the autumn and winter?
- 2 Viral infection and bacterial infection – what are the differences between them and what are the basic symptoms?
- 3 How to protect yourself from infections?
- 4 Antiviral diet as a basis for prevention against pathogens
- 5 Antiviral diet – rules, what to eat and what to avoid?
- 6 Antiviral diet – menu (example menu for 4 days)
Why do we get sick more often in the autumn and winter?
With the advent of the autumn and winter season increases the incidence of respiratory infections, colds, flu and flu-like infections in the population. Low ambient temperature, strong wind, precipitation are unfavorable conditions for us, leading to a frequent state of frigidity of the body, which in turn contributes to the weakening of immunity and increased susceptibility to harmful pathogens.
Other factors that have an impact on the increased incidence of disease in the autumn and winter are: increased seasonal activity of many types of viruses and microorganisms, our diet – much poorer in vegetables and fruits than in the summer and much less frequent stay in the sun, and as we know, the sun’s rays stimulate the production of vitamin D, which is important for our immunity.
All this makes that in autumn and winter it is much easier to get a cold and flu, but for most of us going through a respiratory tract infection at least once or twice a year is a standard. However, not every infection is the same. Infections are divided into those of viral and bacterial origin. What are the characteristics of both?
Viral infection and bacterial infection – what are the differences between them and what are the basic symptoms?
Although viral and bacterial infections are similar to each other, there are some differences between them, allowing us to determine which one we are dealing with.
Viral in fections begin quite rapidly, and in just a few hours or so we can go from feeling well and completely free of symptoms, to feeling much worse and experiencing many symptoms in high intensity. Viral infections are usually accompanied by sub-fever or moderate fever, fatigue and great weakness of the body.
A viral infection usually lasts about a week. In this type of infection antibiotics are not used, but only anti-inflammatory drugs, antipyretics, painkillers, expectorants, reducing runny nose and cough.
The most common symptoms of viral infections:
- persistent feeling of fatigue, weakness,
- bad mood,
- and a feeling of disillusionment,
- elevated temperature,
- pain in the muscles, bones, joints,
- watery runny nose,
- dry cough,
- sore throat,
- lack of appetite.
Bacterial infections usually do not have a sudden onset, they develop at a slower pace. Gradually, our mood worsens and individual symptoms are getting stronger every day. A bacterial infection often results in high fever, as well as great weakness, constant sleepiness and digestive complaints. A bacterial infection, unlike a viral infection, can be treated with antibiotics.
The most common symptoms of bacterial infections:
- high fever,
- fatigue, listlessness,
- a thick, mucopurulent runny nose,
- troublesome wet cough, significant amount of expectorated secretions,
- shortness of breath,
- a very red, sore throat, often with white, purulent plaques,
- abdominal pains,
- nausea, diarrhoea.
How to protect yourself from infections?
Coronavirus, influenza virus, rhinoviruses, adenoviruses – these and other pathogens attack hundreds of people every day, causing annoying disease symptoms with fever, runny nose and cough at the top. Mostly infections affect the upper respiratory tract, from the sinuses and nose to the throat and larynx. However, sometimes the infection develops and begins to occupy further sections of the respiratory system – bronchi and lungs, which is associated with a high burden on the body and an increased risk of more serious health complications.
In order to nip the infection in the bud and avoid dangerous complications of respiratory tract infections, it is very important to start treatment (e.g. with anti-inflammatory and antipyretic drugs) as early as the first symptoms appear.
Prophylaxis and daily building of immunity in a natural way, including through proper nutrition, is also important – it will help us not only to pass any infections more easily and gently, but also to generally strengthen the body’s defensive barrier against pathogens and reduce the risk of infections.
An ant iviral diet or an antiviral diet is nothing else but a permanent implementation of a diet rich in foods that serve to strengthen our immune system (immune system), build a blockade against pathogens and improve the body’s ability to neutralize pathogens when they invade the system.
One of the jobs of the immune system is to capture viruses, bacteria and other harmful microorganisms and prevent them from entering cells. When our immune system is in good condition, it is able to efficiently recognize pathogens and rapidly send out an immune response, which results in absorption and annihilation of pathogens.
Among other things, immune cells such as macrophages, neutrophils and lymphocytes, as well as special proteins, including antibodies and cytokines, are responsible for the immune response, capturing and eliminating pathogens.
There is a whole range of food products, as well as herbs and medicinal plants used e.g. in dietary supplements, which support the immune system by strengthening immune mechanisms and stimulating the activity of immune cells, cytokines and antibodies. In addition, many of these products have a stimulating effect on cleansing the body of toxins, which also translates into improved immunity. What are those products? How to compose a diet against viruses and other pathogens?
The key principle of the antiviral diet is to base the menu on foods as natural as possible, characterized by a low or zero degree of processing, while avoiding processed foods. We need to know that all processed food (including ready meals, instant soups and sauces, fast food, sweets, salty snacks, canned food, semi-finished products) is almost completely devoid of nutritional value, but contains many artificial, unhealthy substances. In addition to the temporary satisfaction of hunger it does us no good, and even harms us.
In the antiviral diet we compose a menu based on such food products as:
- vegetables (e.g. beetroot, leek, garlic, onion, legumes, celery, spinach, kale, broccoli, peppers, horseradish, parsley, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, Brussels sprouts),
- sources of complete protein (dairy products, eggs, lean meat, fish, algae such as chlorella and spirulina),
- wholemeal and wholemeal bread,
- thick cereals,
- pasta made from whole grain cereals,
- pickled products,
- fermented dairy products,
- vegetable oils,
- grains and nuts,
- cereals, sprouts, germs,
- fruits (e.g. chokeberries, raspberries, strawberries, peaches, plums, citrus, currants, kiwi, apples)
- spices and herbs (e.g. ginger, turmeric, basil, oregano, cinnamon, marigold, sage, nettle).
What food components to pay special attention to when composing an antiviral and immunity-boosting diet:
- Vitamin A (present in large amounts in: tomatoes, carrots, peppers, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, parsley, kale, Swiss chard, grapefruit, oranges, cherries, plums, peaches, liver, butter, cream, milk, eggs),
- Vitamin E (present in: oatmeal, bran, wholemeal bread, groats, seeds and seeds, almonds, sprouts, milk, green vegetables, vegetable oils),
- Vitamin C (present in large amounts in: citrus fruits, peppers, black currants, rosehips, strawberries, kiwi, kale, Brussels sprouts, parsley, tomatoes),
- Vitamin D (its sources are: sea fish, egg yolk, cod liver oil, butter, yellow cheese),
- Zinc (present e.g. in pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, meat and offal, sesame, eggs),
- selenium (good sources are: fish such as tuna, salmon, eggs, poultry meat, wheat, mushrooms, Brazil nuts, rice, whole grain cereals, garlic)
- iron (best sources are: liver, meat, cocoa, egg yolks, beans, parsley, broccoli, spinach, beets, apricots, prunes, wheat bran, buckwheat, nuts, mackerel, herring)
- Sulfur (the best sources are: onions, leeks, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, horseradish, radishes, watercress, turnips, meat, offal, milk, eggs),
- probiotics (the best sources are fermented dairy products such as buttermilk, kefir, yogurt, curdled milk, as well as pickles, sauerkraut, bread acid, soy milk, tofu),
- omega 3 acids (present in fish, fish oils, seafood, seeds, chia seeds, vegetable oils, flaxseed),
- beta-glucans (present in oatmeal, rye flakes, barley flakes, wheat, oat and rye bran, barley groats, oyster mushrooms, yeast),
- antioxidants (best sources: chokeberry, elderberry, blueberries, currants, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, pomegranates, apricots, grapefruits, oranges, avocado, pumpkin, peppers, green vegetables, celery, broccoli, tomatoes, legumes, green tea, cocoa, yerba mate, hibiscus, grains, nuts, oil).
In order to strengthen the natural barrier against viruses and bacteria, we should take care to eat healthy, nutritious meals regularly and limit artificial, unhealthy food that poisons the body, blocks metabolism and weakens immunity.
It is best to eat about 4-5 meals a day, making sure that each of them contains vegetables and fruits, and most of them contain whole-grain cereal products, protein products and sources of healthy types of fats (e.g. nuts, grains, vegetable oils, coconut oil).
In the daily menu it is also worth to frequently reach for honey, which stimulates immune mechanisms, as well as for herbs with immunostimulating effect and stimulating the secretion of antiviral substances in the body, such as echinacea, ginseng, elderberry, astragalus, acerola, wild rose, aloe vera.
Herbs or supplements stimulating the detox of the body (e.g. violet, nettle, dandelion or ready-made Spirulin Plus preparation) will also be useful in strengthening the immunity.
Sample menus for an antiviral diet
- Breakfast: rich oatmeal consisting of cereal mix (e.g. oatmeal, barley, rye), raisins, cranberries, nuts, seeds chia with whole milk and honey
- 2 breakfast: graham cracker with avocado paste, a glass of orange juice
- Dinner: cream soup with broccoli and green peas, roasted yams with smoked salmon, herbs (dill, chives, oregano, basil) and mozzarella cheese
- Afternoon snack: yoghurt with coconut shavings and peach, a glass of elderberry or chokeberry juice
- Dinner: wholemeal bread sandwiches with butter, chicken tenderloin, lettuce, sprouts, radish, tomato
- Breakfast: toast from wholemeal bread with egg and yellow cheese, grapefruit
- 2 breakfast: cottage cheese with grated black turnip, green cucumber and chia seeds, green tea
- Dinner: beetroot or Ukrainian borscht, brown rice, dish of lentils, corn, mushrooms, tomatoes and turkey breast with ginger, curry and turmeric
- Tea time: zucchini pancakes with hummus
- Dinner: chicken jelly, peppers, lettuce, tomato, slice of wholemeal bread
- Breakfast: oatmeal on yoghurt with bananas, cocoa, honey and cinnamon
- 2 breakfast: fruit and vegetable cocktail with bran
- Dinner: chicken meatballs in horseradish and dill sauce, wholemeal pasta, carrot and celery salad
- Afternoon: omelette with red and purple fruits (e.g. raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, plums) and yogurt
- Dinner: sourdough rye bread sandwiches with cottage cheese paste and mackerel or vegetable paste, accompanied by a light salad of pickled cucumbers, radishes, peppers, chives
- Breakfast: toast from wholemeal bread with fresh spinach leaves, fried egg, tomato, sprinkled with roasted sunflower seeds
- 2nd breakfast: salad with tuna, corn, chickpeas, rice, paprika, pickled cucumber, leek, parsley and a little mayonnaise
- Dinner: cream of pumpkin and apple soup with ginger, buckwheat groats, chicken liver, beetroot salad with onion, seasoned with olive oil and lemon juice
- Tea time: kefir cocktail with fruit (e.g. strawberries, mango, blueberries)
- Dinner: medley of peppers, tomatoes, onions, zucchini and chicken breast