By Ghanim al-Sulaiti
As the world continues to adapt to life in a pandemic, there are positive signs emerging from various studies around the world regarding the potential benefits from vitamins, minerals and supplements. Today I want to discuss Zinc.
Zinc is an essential mineral that our body cannot make by itself. This means we have to get it from our diet or supplements. Zinc has many important roles in our body: it’s responsible for the activity of more than 300 different enzymes, it’s vital for our immune system function including maintaining the strength of our skin and for cells, it’s required for protein and DNA — it’s even important for wound healing, for example when child grazes their knee, and it also ensures the proper functioning of our senses, specifically taste and smell.
Studies are now underway to examine just how Zinc supplements may help protect individuals from the coronavirus. There have been hundreds of studies investigating zinc for the common cold. The theory being examined now is that whether zinc could stop the binding together of the cold virus to cells within the nose, and suppress inflammation.
It is important to highlight that Covid-19 is a new disease, and we are still learning about it, so to date there are still conflicting results — but overall, zinc appears to be beneficial in certain forms or circumstances.
A review of 18 studies found zinc supplements administered within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms reduced the duration of cold symptoms in healthy people. Zinc gluconate reduced the symptoms of a common cold by more than three days in 100 employees who took part in the study in Cleveland, USA. Zinc was shown to reduce the activity and replication of another coronavirus (Sars — which caused an outbreak in 2002) when tested in the laboratory.
While there are obvious benefits of Zinc with, or without a pandemic — for those eating a plant-based diet it’s important to highlight that there are ways to increase the bioavailability of zinc from plant-based foods: Soaking beans, seeds, and grains in water for several hours before cooking; eating sprouted grains; and eating fermented grain products, such as sourdough bread.
The studies surrounding zinc are certainly interesting, but the best way to support your immune system is to eat a healthy, plant-based diet. While there are all kinds of claims online, the fact is that the only diet that is genuinely full of vitamins and minerals essential for boosting your immune system is a plant based diet.
In fact, a whole foods, plant-based diet contains 64-times the amount of immunity-boosting antioxidants compared to a diet that includes meat and dairy. If you’re not already, then cut out the antioxidant-depleted animal foods and start rewarding your body with actual sources of goodness.
n The author is an expert in vegan wellbeing and health. Instagram handle: @Ghanim92
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