Stocking up on rice and pasta? Plainly wrong COVID-19 nutrition strategies, and what nutritionists have on their shopping list instead.
Why did I leave Switzerland, Zurich and went back to Russia all of a sudden?
To Siberia? In the middle of nowhere?
Besides taxes and some paperwork for my company (I’m an independent consultant) — it just made sense. I was getting all these “reports” from my friends in Airlines about all the flights being canceled or about to be canceled, my corporate friends were being sent home to work — something serious was happening, something that had never happened before. And it seemed to me, that the right decision would be to go home earlier (while craziness wasn’t that bad and you could still fly), wait it out in a place where my health insurance was taken care of, where COVID-19 wasn’t as spread (and probably never would), where I was close to my family. I thought about it — I made a plan, and on March 15th I flew out of Zurich on the last scheduled flight to Russia (the last before the airport was officially shut down and Aeroflot stopped flights to most cities in Europe).
We have a pretty sophisticated machine between our shoulders — our brain. The most sophisticated machine in the Universe, as far as we know. And most of us walk through our whole life never using it for our own benefit. We panic, we make decisions based on fear that in the long run works against us, we rush into things that make no sense afraid to miss out and to be left out. We act like animals, like mammals, like your dog would — not like human beings with the most sophisticated machine in the Universe at our disposal at any moment of our day.
We start stocking up on food. And you’d think we would buy vegetables, seafood, organ meats, nuts and seeds, fresh fruit full of vitamins, minerals, essential amino and fatty acids to truly boost whole-body health, to truly boost our immune system to minimize our own chances of catching viruses and infections, to maximize our own chances of fast recovery when something happens.
You’d think so, if you were a nutritionist, I guess, or a holistic health worker, if you understood how our body works and why certain foods are better for a human body than others.
And what are we actually seeing?
We start stocking up on pasta, rice, frozen pizza and other “comfort” foods — like we are about to starve and need to fatten ourselves up! (Like we didn’t do enough of that before all the COVID-19 situation)
If I, as a nutrition/health coach, were to stock up on anything — I’d stock up on canned and frozen seafood (especially oysters, crab meat, mussels, herring and sardines), vegetables and fruit (especially bell peppers, frozen strawberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and spinach, palm hearts), nuts and seeds (especially sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, flax and hemp seeds), onions and garlic, tubers like sweet potatoes.
I honestly think we are nowhere near a situation where we have to do any stocking up.
But what I do think is a HIGHLY unappreciated and underused strategy that we ALL need to apply now — starting eating foods naturally rich in nutrients, especially rich in nutrients that we know are crucial for the work of our immune system — vitamins C, A, D, Zinc, Copper — like our life depends on it! Because it kind of does! Not just our own life but the lives of people around us who we can help when we are healthy!
Here is a list of foods I believe to be especially beneficial now:
Seafood: especially oysters (SUPER high in zinc), crab meat, mussels and shrimp — these are the highest in zinc, copper and selenium, that are essential for immune system defense.
Foods rich in vitamin C: red raw bell peppers (1 gives you 200–300% of your daily need), strawberries (fresh or frozen, 5–7 oz, 150–200g approx 100%), Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflowers, green leafy veggies steamed or sauteed (kale, Swiss chard, bok choy, spinach etc.)
Other nutrient-dense foods for a well-rounded nutrition profile: pastured whole eggs, organ meats especially liver (vitamin A, iron, B vitamins), canned sardines with skin and bones (for calcium and phosphorus, Omega-3s), herring and salmon for vitamin D and Omega-3s.
Dark (90% and higher) chocolate for copper: 50g for a daily requirement.
Sunflower seeds for vitamin E: raw, 1–2oz a day.
Nutritional yeast for B vitamins and folate: 3TBsp a day.
*I do a lot of “food research” — I name the highest most absorbable by a human body sources.
To cut it short: load up on green and colorful veggies, berries as your to-go fruit, seafood especially shellfish, fatty fish and oysters, eggs and liver.
Stay away from: processed foods and loads of refined sugars and industrial fats, and too many grains, beans, tree nuts and dairy — they tend to negatively impact our immune system.
*A note for vegans
Zinc and Copper:
Palm hearts, cooked not tinned (5oz, 150g): Copper 75%, Zinc 45%
Shiitake (1oz, 30g): Copper 120%, Zinc 19%
Hemp hearts (1oz, 30g): Copper 37%, Zinc 24%
Pumpkin seeds (1oz, 30g): Copper 31%, Zinc 19%
Sunflower seeds (1oz, 30g): Copper 42%, Zinc 12%
Cashew, dry roasted (1oz, 30g): Copper 48%, Zinc 14%
Brazil nuts (1oz, 30g): Copper 41%, Zinc 10%
*I chose the most “efficient” foods to deliver these highly needed nutrients — they deliver the most amounts per calorie/volume in the most digestible and absorbable form. My opinion: not the time to go/be vegan. Supplement with knowledge.
Surprised there’s no pasta, rice or frozen pizza?
They simply don’t have much except for highly absorbable calories and carbs (and fiber of course, that, by the way, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds are also full of). In fact, eating too much rice, for example, can lead to zinc deficiency! (ZInc is crucial for our immune system. Maybe that’s why it hit Chine first? All the rice and no seafood? Don’t quote me on this one.)
Guys, our immune system, our strong and healthy body are our best defense. It always was. And it’s gonna be for quite a while. Fortify them! Make them stronger! Help yourself! Help others and the whole world!
A friend of mine, a coach, a leader, an entrepreneur, at a meetup this Saturday, having watched my bell pepper video — asked me, “Hey Angela, do bell peppers really have all this vitamin C? Not oranges? Is it really that good for you?”
Our food system got us so distracted with creating the most delicious and mouth-watering products that it forgot to fulfill its primary purpose — to nourish our health. The rest is secondary. And if we don’t get this idea now — there’s a chance we never will.
What do we all do now?
We can all start with learning to cook and eat not just for pleasure and fun but also to improve specific functions of our body — like our immune defense, feeding our immune system and our body what they need to work.
We can all start with learning how to cook my favorite immune-boosting snack — Stuffed Bell Pepper Float.
What you need:
- Red bell pepper half, raw
- Garlic, crushed for 10 mins, 1–2 cloves
- Fatty fish, herring or salmon, 4oz, 120g
- Hard-boiled eggs, 1–2
- Iodized salt, black pepper
My masterclass, how to make it:
It’s a great solo of whole-family snack. Easy and fast to make. Super fun to eat!
What else can we do?
Put all the foods I mentioned above on our shopping list and stock up on those, if you feel like stocking up on things.
Questions? Want to learn more? Having troubles maintaining a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating habits while locked down?
Here is a LIVE ONLINE MEETUP I’m doing now:
JOIN, APPLY and SHARE!