Optimize your health and immunity

Nourishment is especially important before, during, and after an illness, as you need many resources to fight off organisms that will harm your body.  Ensure plenty of fluids.  Soups, even broths, are easier on your digestion than a heavy meal.  Soups and fluids can supply the salt electrolytes, potassium electrolytes, etc. that your body requires more of when becoming ill or being newly exposed.  Bananas and other fruits that are high in potassium can help supply a major electrolyte that your body requires more of while ill.

It will be even more essential for you to get adequate amounts of food with an emphasis on citrus fruit and legumes.  Vegetables should be cooked until extra soft to aid digestion.  You may find protein sources that are soft - such as eggs - are easier to digest saving your energy to fight your illness.  You should not exert yourself and keep any exercise to a tolerable minimum. For example, walking might be considered a light exercise activity.  However, get as much rest as your body needs.  Resting allows your body to use its resources to fight the COVID-19 illness.  You may need to stay in bed until you are feeling better enough to be active.

Traditional Spices and Dietary Options

Traditional Native Corn Soup can assist in getting the nutrients you need; however, it might be better to skip the acidification process of lying. Lye is an extremely strong acid found in hardwood ashes.” Acidic food might be harder on your system when you are ill.

When possible choose recipes that use ginger, garlic, cumin, turmeric, coriander, and sage spices as these have anti-inflammatory properties.  Higher doses of these spices can be obtained which may reduce your symptoms, however, there are precautions and potential side effects depending on the amounts taken, especially if you have any chronic medical conditions, are on certain medications, or you are pregnant. In some cases, higher than normal doses of herbs can be harmful. Therefore, consult your primary care provider when considering using amounts more than in a typical recipe (considered a culinary dose).  Consult your primary care provider when considering using herbal supplements.

If you have a chronic medical condition

It would be imperative to get the advice of a registered dietician especially for medical conditions that require a specific diet.

Traditional Teas

Choosing Echinacea, Elderberry, or, Sage teas may reduce the duration of your symptoms.

You need to be aware of potential pitfalls especially if you have a chronic medical condition or you are pregnant.

Echinacea tea may inhibit certain liver enzymes which could cause issues for other medications that you might be taking, even the birth control pill leading to undesired outcomes.

Avoid unripe Elderberries or products made from other plant parts as they contain dangerous compounds that may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, dizziness, or confusion.

Sage in high doses should not be ingested for more than 1-2 weeks as alcohol extracts of sage are higher in thujone a toxic substance.  It is not recommended during pregnancy.

Check with your primary care provider if you have a medical condition, are on any medications, or you are pregnant before considering alternative remedies.

Supplements and Over the Counter Medications: 

You may choose to increase your levels of Vitamin C with a vitamin source or multivitamin if you feel that you are not getting the extra amount your body needs through citrus fruits.  Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin which means it will not be stored in your body beyond a few hours. Therefore, you may benefit from citrus fruit sources of Vitamin C three times daily (with every meal) or even more frequently.  Although juices and supplements contain the Vitamin C you need, they are devoid of the fiber in fruit which could increase your chances of getting reflux symptoms.  Nevertheless, more Vitamin C may be what you need especially during the time you are ill.  It may even help reduce the severity or duration of your illness in some cases.

If your diet is generally lacking in fish, walnuts, olive oil and other sources of Omega-3s, you should speak to a dietician about how you can increase your intake.  Your body requires Omega-3 and if you do not have enough in your diet, you may benefit from an Omega-3 supplement. The down side of these supplements is that they can pull fluids from your body into your gut.  The more you take the more they pull, so natural sources are a better option as they are less likely cause this side effect. Having enough intake of Omega-3 rich food is also important to supply your body with the nutrients for your body’s ability to heal itself.

All vitamins are important to maintaining your health. The B vitamins are often the ones that help your body in stressful situations.  They are also water-soluble meaning they only stay in your body for a few hours after digestion.  Therefore, if your diet does not include adequate sources of B vitamins such as brown bread, brown rice, or pasta, then you may benefit from supplementing with a B complex vitamin.  Since vitamins are not a replacement for natural sources of B vitamins, you may experience reflux or other side effects similar to any supplement.

Vitamins A, E, D, and K are fat soluble vitamins, which means that as long as you obtain an adequate amount they will be stored in your body and be present during your illness.  We live far enough North that we may not get enough sunlight to maintain our Vitamin D levels.  It is widely accepted that those who do not have an adequate intake of Vitamin D through sources such as milk – where it is added, require supplementing with Vitamin D on a regular basis.  You can discuss with your primary care provider further regarding your requirements, risks, and need for supplementation or testing for this important nutrient that we are pervasively deficient in which can help maintain a healthy body.

You may wish to treat some of your symptoms with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or NSAIDs (Ibuprofen, Naproxen, etc.).  Acetaminophen is a fever reducer and pain reducer.  NSAIDs are also fever reducers and pain reducers, but are also inflammation reducers.  Since acetaminophen is processed in your liver and NSAIDs can cause reflux, ulcers, and bleeding, you should consult someone that knows your medical history such as your primary care provider or pharmacist before using these medications.  To minimize the risks of NSAIDs, you should take them after a full meal if your primary care provider is advising you to use them. Not all NSAIDs have the same effects or potency.  Overuse in amount or duration can cause you problems. Discuss with your primary care provider what is best for you in your situation. 

Sweetgrass is a traditional remedy that has a similar effect to NSAIDs or acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin).  However, unlike modern medicine, it is not labeled with the number of milligrams ingested so it may be hard for your treating primary care provider to judge and advise on the amount you have used.

Seneca Scientific Solutions - Urban Planning, Public Health Consulting




Creating healthier and safer communities through evidence-based practices!



 Cattaraugus NY 14719

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