The Three Stages of Infection
Better Nutrition|January 2022
What you need before, during and after an illness, and why you need different fixes for each stage.
By Lisa Turner. Photographs by Pornchai Mittongate and Getty Images

Focusing on infection protection? Your body has different needs during all three stages of sickness—before, during, and after. Here’s how to prevent, treat, and recover from illness: what to eat, how to live, and science-backed supplements for each stage.

BEFORE

Reduce your chances of getting sick with proven preventive measures that boost resilience, reinforce immunity, and protect against pathogens.

What to eat. Avoid sugar, processed foods, and fried foods—studies suggest they impact immune response, spur inflammation, and decrease resistance. Instead, focus on whole, unprocessed foods that are rich in nutrients that support immunity, dampen inflammation, inhibit viral replication, protect against respiratory illness, and reduce the risk of infection. Some of the best:

* CAROTENOIDS—winter squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens

* OMEGA-3 FATS—salmon, sardines, tuna, herring

* SELENIUM—Brazil nuts, beef, eggs, turkey, cottage cheese

* QUERCETIN—apples, onions, green tea, grapes, broccoli

* VITAMIN C—red peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, kiwi fruit

* BETA GLUCANS—shiitake mushrooms, oats, barley, nutritional yeast

What to do. Start by moving more. Research shows that regular exercise improves immune function, lowers inflammation, and enhances the body’s ability to ward offillness. Just don’t overdo it—excessive or prolonged exercise negatively impacts immunity. Shoot for 30 minutes of moderateintensity activity every day. Regular movement also stabilizes sleep, which is critical for immunity. Studies link sleep deprivation with greater susceptibility to viral infections. And chill out. Chronic stress increases inflammation, suppresses immune response, and makes you more susceptible to illness.

What to take. Add an extra layer of prevention with science-backed supplements that have been shown to support a healthy immune response, inhibit viral replication, and lessen the risk of infection. Seven of the best:

* VITAMIN D

* CURCUMIN

* ANDROGRAPHIS

* N-ACETYLCYSTEINE (NAC)

* PELARGONIUM (UMCKALOABO)

* PROBIOTICS

* ASTRAGALUS

DURING

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