For most viral infections, such as COVID-19, medicine can only help with symptoms while the immune system fights off the virus. Antibiotics do not work for viral infections. The best way to fight viruses such as the novel coronavirus is to build up your immune system.
The best way to strengthen immunity is through diet by increasing consumption of immune-boosting foods. Ideally and especially during times of panic, it is always best to consume locally. The best Caribbean foods to fight off viruses include green leafy vegetables, which provide Vitamin A, and foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and capsicum. Probiotics, such as Greek yoghurt or fermented food and drinks such as miso soup or kombucha, also contribute to fighting viruses.
There are also many antiviral herbs that grow in the Caribbean, that enhance the immune system and prevent viral infections. These can be used as infusions, teas, or herb-infused oils. The top antiviral herbs include Elderberry, Echinacea, Calendula, Garlic, Astragalus Root, Cat’s Claw, Ginger, Golden Seal and Liquorice Root.
The following are some of our favourite native Caribbean immune-system boosters to fight off coronavirus.
Garlic contains powerful compounds—including allicin, diallyl trisulfide, and ajoene—that fight viruses. Garlic can be eaten raw, mashed or can be added to soups. Mix chopped raw garlic with a tablespoon of unpasteurised, raw honey and consume a clove every day after two to three days. It’s a fantastic way to boost your immune system.
Modern studies show that ginger has measurable antiviral benefits. In one study, fresh ginger protected against HRSV (human respiratory syncytial virus, a major cause of lower respiratory tract infections), by blocking the virus’ ability to attach to cells and stimulating the release of compounds that help counteract viral infections.
Greens with top antiviral properties — kale, spinach, brussels sprouts, and cabbage
Spinach gets top billing as a superfood thanks to its high content of folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, fibre, magnesium, and iron. The nutrients in spinach boost immune function and provide the body with necessary nutrients for cell division and DNA repair. Reap maximum benefits from spinach by eating it raw or lightly cooked to preserve nutrients.
One medium sweet potato packs a whopping 120% of the daily value of vitamin A and 30% of the daily value of vitamin C, all for just 100 calories. These vitamins are crucial for immune function. Sweet potatoes are a cholesterol-free and fat-free food, so you get all the helpful, immune-boosting vitamins without the guilt. Sweet potatoes serve up a healthy portion of fiber, too.
Immunity boosting soup
(All of the ingredients below can be sourced locally in the Caribbean)
1 Sweet potato
Mix all the ingredients together and make it into a soup.