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Defying all predictions, Africa is the global COVID-19 ‘cold spot’. How come health officials and the media are not honestly exploring why?

Jon EntinePatrick Whittle | March 2, 2021
Source: The Genetic Literacy Project

Credit: Louis HB
Credit: Louis HB
Source: The Genetic Literacy Project
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Note: ‘Africa’ includes the mostly White countries of North Africa, which have been far harder hit by COVID than sub-Saharan Africa
Source: The Genetic Literacy Project
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

The first confirmed COVID-19 case in Africa was on February 14, 2020 in Egypt. The first in sub-Saharan Africa appeared in Nigeria soon after. Health officials were united in a near-panic about how the novel coronavirus would roll through the world’s second most populous continent.

By mid-month, the World Health Organization listed four sub-Saharan countries on a ‘top 13’ global danger list because of direct air links to China. Writing for Lancet, two scientists with the Africa Center for Disease Control outlined a catastrophe in the making:

With neither treatment nor vaccines, and without pre-existing immunity, the effect [of COVID-19] might be devastating because of the multiple health challenges the continent already faces: rapid population growth and increased movement of people; existing endemic diseases…; remerging and emerging infectious pathogens …, and others; and increasing incidence of non-communicable diseases.

Many medical professionals predicted that Africa could spin into a death spiral. “My advice to Africa is to prepare for the worst, and we must do everything we can to cut the root problem,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the first African director-general of the WHO warned in March. “I think Africa, my continent, must wake up.”This article is part one of a two-part series. Read the second part on Wednesday, March 2.

By spring, WHO was projecting 44 million or more cases for Africa and the World Bank issued a map of the continent colored in blood red, anticipating that the worst was imminent.

Source: The Genetic Literacy Project
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Dire warnings seemed to make sense. After all, the vast majority of the world’s poorest people reside in the region, struggling with unhygienic environments, conflict, fragmented healthcare and education systems and dysfunctional leadership — all factors that could light a match to the tinder of the SARS-CoV2 outbreak. Scientists say that most African countries lack the capacity and expertise to manage endemic deadly diseases like malaria.

Each individual’s risk of dying of a particular disease tends to reflect access to adequate health care and underlying health conditions (co-morbidities). Those factors have proved to be a toxic mix in poorer communities in the United States, Brazil, UK and other countries where lower income groups, often ethnic and racial minorities, are dying at rates higher than others. Africa seemed ripe for catastrophe.

But disaster never came. Africa has not been affected on anything near the scale of most countries in Asia, Europe, and North and South America. (The major exceptions being China, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand, which zealously enforced lockdowns). In fact, the vast African continent south of the Sahara desert, more than 1.1 billion people, has emerged as the world’s COVID-19 ‘cold spot’. 

Note: ‘Africa’ includes the mostly White countries of North Africa, which have been far harder by COVID than sub-Saharan Africa
Source: The Genetic Literacy Project
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

The latest statistics show about 3.8 million cases and 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths, concentrated mostly in the Arab majority countries north of the Sahara. Except for South Africa, the most multi-ethnic of the Black majority countries, and Nigeria, sub-Saharan Africa has largely been spared.

Courtesy: Africa CDC
Source: The Genetic Literacy Project
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

According to Worldometers, by late-February, Europe, with less than 2/3 the population of Africa, had almost 33,000,000+ cases, 900% more, and almost 800,000 deaths, 800% more. The US, with less than 1/3 the number of people, has 2900% more cases and 2400% more deaths, according to stats compiled on Wikipedia.

Source: The Genetic Literacy Project
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Source: The Genetic Literacy Project
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Journalists and even some scientists have been twisting themselves into speculative pretzels (hereherehere) trying to explain this phenomenon. Theories range from sub-Saharan Africa’s ‘quick response’ (no); favourable climate (which did not protect Brazil and other warmer climes in South America); and good community health systems (directly contradicted by WHO and Africa CDC). 

In each of those articles acknowledging the “puzzling” statistics, journalists were sure to suggest Armageddon might be right around the corner. “Experts fear a more devastating second surge,” warned National Geographic in late December, although there was no first surge and just two weeks before Africa’s tiny December uptick (driven almost entirely by the mutant variant in South Africa) turned back downward, according to Reuters.

Source: The Genetic Literacy Project
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Why Africa has been less impacted by COVID-19

What’s going on here? And why are the media and most scientists so unwilling to engage the most likely scenario: Black Africans appear to be protected in part by their ancestral genetics. Combined with the fact that sub-Saharan Africa is the youngest region in the world—youth brings fewer co-morbidities and age is the most significant factor in contracting and dying from COVID-19—DNA is the most likely explanation for sub-Saharan Africa’s comparatively modest case and death count.

Except for one research project in Hawai’i, scientists have all but ignored exploring the population genetics angle, almost certainly fearful of stirring the embers of race science. 

“It is really mind boggling why Africa is doing so well, while in US and UK, the people of African ancestry are doing so poorly,” Maarit Tiirikainen, a cancer and bioinformatics researcher at the University of Hawai’i Cancer Center, told us in an email. 

Dr. Tiirikainen is a lead researcher in a joint project at the University of Hawaii and LifeDNA in what some believe is a controversial undertaking considering the taboos on ‘race’ research. They are attempting to identify “those that are most vulnerable to the current and future SARS attacks and COVID based on their genetics”.

Dr. Maarit Tiirkainen
Source: The Genetic Literacy Project
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Blacks (along with other ethnic minorities) in the US and Great Britain have generally fared worse than Whites in contracting COVID-19 and surviving it. “For the latter, it seems the western socioeconomics may play a major role. There may also be genetic differences in immune and other important genes,” Dr Tiirkainen wrote. 

(Note: The terms ‘Black’ and ‘White’ are used as shorthand for more cumbersome expressions like ‘those of African descent’ or ‘people of European ancestry’. As addressed below, ‘Black’ and ‘White’ are not science-based population categories.)

Dr. Tirikainen, like many researchers in this field, when communicating candidly, is skeptical that social and environmental factors alone can account for the extraordinarily low COVID-19 African infection and death rates. It is not because Africa took extraordinary steps to insulate itself as the pandemic spread. Health care remains fragmented at best. COVID information outreach has been limited by scant resources. 

At the end of March, when much was still to be learned about the science of COVID-19, co-authors of this article — Genetic Literacy Project’s Jon Entine and contributing science journalist Patrick Whittle — discussed some of the potential reasons in the article What’s ‘race’ got to do with it?. 

After discussions with many experts, we decided not to reflexively exclude genetic explanations, which are always a taboo subject. Rather, we examined the panoply of likely causes, rejecting the a priori Western prejudice that often excludes evidence that might be linked to population-level genetics and group differences for fear of ‘racializing’ the analysis. Note we are very aware that skin color is not a recognized science-based population concept. Given the racist history of biological beliefs about human differences, addressing the fact of ancestrally-based genetic differences must be pursued carefully. 

Why even discuss possible genetic factors? Because biases among researchers and public policy officials could undermine the development and deployment of treatments and antiviral vaccines for all of us, but particularly for more vulnerable populations in Africa, and in the African diaspora. Identifying those with genetic resistance to infection or who may be genetically protected in some degree from developing symptoms could help scientists develop treatments for all of. Lives are at stake.

So let’s dip our toes back into these murky waters. Could our ancestry, which defines our genetic make-up, play a role in disease susceptibility, for COVID or other viruses?

Environmental-based Black-White differences impact COVID vulnerability

There are some significant non-genetic factors behind the Africa numbers. In the case of disease susceptibility, social and environmental explanations have played a huge role in the limited impact so far of COVID-19 in Africa. For one, the apparent low incidence of cases and deaths could be due in part to under-reporting or limited testing, although testing has been surging in Africa even as the number of cases remained flat. 

The most significant environmental factor, scientists say, is age. The average age of Europeans is 43; it’s 38 in the US; across the African continent, it is 18. The average age in Niger, Mali, Uganda and Angola is under 16. While roughly a quarter of the population in both Europe and North America is over 60-years old, in Africa, the 60+ age cohort makes up only 6 percent of the population. 

Source: The Genetic Literacy Project
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

The young, when infected, are also less apt to show symptoms. Asymptomatic people are not as likely to be tested, perhaps suppressing the numbers. Younger people are, by and large, healthier. The average age of Black Americans is about twice as old as Black Africans. Moreover, the deaths among African Americans — almost twice that of White and Asian Americans — has been almost exclusively concentrated among the elderly, many with multiple co-morbidities and less access to health care. That’s the opposite of the situation in Africa.

The younger African population may explain some of the disparities in deaths, but not all of them; the wealthier nations of Asia have managed the pandemic better than Europe and North America, despite having similarly older populations, and the virus is raging in some South Asian countries.

It also should be noted that age has often played the opposite role in surviving scourges. Malaria is historically the world’s deadliest disease. But age-related survival rates are the reverse of that with COVID-19, with the very young most at risk. In 2018, for example, most of the estimated 405,000 people who died from malaria were young children in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Climate also may play a role. Generally, the pandemic has spread more virulently in colder climes, with more temperature countries in Asia and Africa somewhat spared from the scourge. But most of those countries, from Australia, across China to Taiwan, have undertaken massive tracing and have imposed near universal shutdowns on occasion. African countries have been less proactive, constrained in large part by a lack of funds.

Genetics and COVID

To what degree does ancestry play in role in our susceptibility to COVID-19?

Unfortunately there is a dearth of research on the genetics of African peoples, so it’s difficult to make too much of these fragmented examples. And despite Africa being the “cradle of humankind”, and with its populations containing more human genetic variation any other continent, Black Africans and those of African descent remain woefully underrepresented in genetic studies

Given the historical research bias towards Eurasia and North America, almost 20 years after the sequencing of the human genome, the vast majority of genetic samples are of European ancestry (nearly 90 percent in 2017, with most of these from just three countries — Great Britain, US and Iceland). Recent pioneering surveys of African genomes are just now beginning to reveal the continents’ rich genetic legacy, replete with the merging and divergence of myriad ancestral populations.

What genetic factors could be in play impacting COVID-19 infection and death rates? Research and informed speculation is already underway. 

An earlier study on the possible contribution of genetics to the SARS-CoV2 infection found significant population-based differences in ACE2 receptors that modulate blood pressure in the cells located in the lungs, arteries, heart, kidneys and intestines. Africans are considerably less likely than East Asians to express the ACE2 receptors, though slightly higher than Europeans, the researchers believe. 

“There have been major differences in the rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection and the severe disease between the different geographic regions since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, even among young individuals,” wrote Dr. Tiirikainen. “There may also be genetic differences in immune and other important genes explaining why some people get more sick than others.

At least two studies show that blood type O could be associated with a lower risk of COVID-19 infection and reduced likelihood of severe outcomes, including organ complications. There is also some evidence that those with blood type A are more susceptible to COVID-19. The researchers did not find any significant difference in rates of infection between A, B and AB types. About 37 percent of the world population is O+ and 6 percent is O-. About 50 percent of Africans have blood group O, the highest in the world.

It’s well established that certain HLA (human leukocyte antigens) alleles confer susceptibility to specific diseases. African-descended and European-descended populations implicate distinctively different immunity responses in dozens of diseases treatments. For example, it is extremely rare for people of unmixed Black African ancestry to get ankylosing spondylitis, a rare type of arthritis. Whites are three times more likely to get it. The histocompatibility antigen HLA-B27, which does not exist in Black Africans of unmixed ancestry, is present in 8 percent of White and only about 2-4 percent of the Black American population (reflecting racial mixing).

Susceptibility to the coronavirus is negatively associated with having a genetic propensity to absorb Vitamin C, as is the case with Black African populations. Across Africa, roughly 50 percent of people carry the Vitamin C-friendly variant and in some African countries, it is as high as 70 percent. In the US, 41 percent of Whites carry this variant, compared to 55 percent of Blacks, and only 31 percent of Asians.

There is also preliminary evidence to suggest that vitamin D supplements at high doses might help protect against becoming infected with COVID-19 or limiting serious symptoms. How might this relate to people of African ancestry? Blacks as a population group have markedly low levels of vitamin D. 

Yet in a paradox, people of African ancestry who take Vitamin D supplements get no skeletal benefits from taking supplements. Their bones are naturally less brittle than those of other populations. Black Americans, for example, have significantly fewer incidences of falls, fractures or osteopenia compared to White Americans. 

Could the factors that naturally protect the bone health of Blacks also protect them against more serious COVID symptoms? At the moment, there are no clear explanations for the vitamin D ‘Black paradox,’ but scientists we talked to say there may be some genetic factors at play.

Genetics cuts multiple ways – it can protect or increase vulnerabilities, or do both at the same time

Are Black Americans and those of African descent in general less genetically susceptible to some viruses or diseases other than COVID-19? The evidence is fragmentary. Contradicting racist early 20th century theories that ‘frail’ Blacks are more susceptible to disease, during the 1918 pandemic the incidence of influenza was significantly lower in African Americans

And according to one 2016 study of swine flus, when exposed to flu, “African Americans mounted higher virus neutralizing and IgG antibody responses to the H1N1 component of IIV3 or 4 compared to Caucasians”. 

The relationship of genes to disease is often convoluted. Populations of African descent simultaneously are more prone to sickle cell anaemia (particularly prevalent south of the Sahara) and have natural, genetic-based defenses against malaria. This connection was noted over 50 years ago. Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.SIGN UP

And in a tragic twist, some genetic variants thought to reduce susceptibility to malaria are believed to increase vulnerability to the HIV virus. While fear of AIDS has receded in the West and in developing countries in Africa, HIV still infects tens of millions of people, with hundreds of thousands dying of the disease each year, mostly in Africa. Adult HIV prevalence is 1.2 percent worldwide but 9 percent in sub-Saharan Africa. 

In the US, where the national rate is 0.6 percent, African Americans, account for 42 percent of new HIV infections despite being only 12 percent of the population. It’s now believed that a gene variant common in some African and African diaspora populations that protects against certain types of malaria increases susceptibility to HIV infection by 40 percent. 

If this is indeed the case, it is an example of genes conferring both benefits and liabilities as populations evolved and moved around in different eras in different environments. In ancestral environments, malaria was the force selecting for variants that provided partial immunity; in the modern environment, HIV may be the force selecting against those unfortunate enough to carry these genetics might partly explain the apparent reduced severity of COVID-19 in Africa.

Patrick Whittle has a PhD in philosophy and is a New Zealand-based freelance writer with a particular interest in the social and political implications of biological science. Follow him on his website patrickmichaelwhittle.com or on Twitter @WhittlePMRelated article:  Talking Biotech: Prospects for approving GMO salmon and rescuing embattled banana

Jon Entine is the founding editor of the Genetic Literacy Project, and winner of 19 major journalism awards. He has written extensively in the popular and academic press on population genetics, including two best-sellers, Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We’re Afraid to Talk About It; and Abraham’s Children: Race, Genetics and the DNA of The Chosen People. Follow him on Twitter @JonEntine

Often we see misconceptions presented with little fact. The COVID 19 pandemic has prodominatly impacted the developed world. Why is that? How is diet apart of that? What can we learn?

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COVID 19 and Vitamin D

10 Vitamin D–Rich Foods to Add to Your Diet

Source: Everyday Health

Fish, mushrooms, and several fortified foods can help you get your fix of the Sunshine Vitamin.

Sheryl Huggins Salomon

By Sheryl Huggins Salomon
Medically Reviewed by Kelly Kennedy, RD
Last Updated: December 17, 2019

beautiful black, mixed race, female cooking salmon in the kitchen
Source: Everyday Health
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Tuna, swordfish, and salmon are all good sources of vitamin D.

Garage Island Crew/Stocksy

Are you getting enough vitamin D in your diet? This nutrient is important for growing healthy cells, keeping your immune system humming to ward off illness, and aiding in calcium absorption so your bones stay strong. It also helps prevent the bone disease rickets in children, and with calcium, the so-called Sunshine Vitamin can help guard against osteoporosis in older adults, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) notes.

Vitamin D is produced in your body when the sun’s ultraviolet rays hit your skin, and the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin D is 600 international units (IU), which is 15 micrograms (mcg) for most adults, according to the NIH. For those older than 80, the RDA is 800 IU (20 mcg).

Yet most people don’t get enough vitamin D via sunlight, nor is food a good source of the nutrient, says Lori Zanini, RD, a Los Angeles–based dietitian.

People typically don’t exceed 288 IU per day from diet alone. Even if you drink milk fortified with vitamin D, 8 fluid ounces (oz) has only 100 IU — one-sixth the amount that you need daily. No wonder 41.6 percent of Americans have a vitamin D deficiency, per a study. A vitamin D deficiency means you have 20 nanograms per milliliter or less of the nutrient in your blood. If you are nonwhite, obese, or do not have a college education, you may be at greater risk for being vitamin D deficient. Your healthcare provider can test your blood to find out for sure.

To get your fix, you can opt for supplements. Zanini recommends vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), which is found in animal sources of food and is generally better absorbed in the body, though plant-derived vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is used in supplements as well. Yet research is mixed on whether vitamin D supplements offer concrete health benefits. Authors of a study published in January 2019 in The New England Journal of Medicine theorized that there is a reduced cancer risk for African Americans who take vitamin D supplements, as well as a significantly lower death rate in people with cancer who take them. But major studies published recently, including an October 2018 review in The Lancet, have not shown benefits from supplementation, despite prior hype about it.

“Getting vitamin D from food is a priority,” says Zanini. Make sure your diet is rich in the following fare, so you can increase your intake.1

Sockeye Salmon Is a Source of Protein

Salmon high in vitamin d
Source: Everyday Health
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

James Baigrie/Getty Images

Not only is salmon a great option if you’re looking for protein to add to your diet but it’s also rich in the Sunshine Vitamin. According to the NIH, 3 oz of cooked sockeye salmon has about 447 IU of vitamin D. “In addition to vitamin D, salmon is a great addition to anyone’s diet, with it also being a good source of healthy protein and omega-3 fatty acids,” says Zanini. According to the NIH, fish offer two critical omega-3s: eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, which you must get through food. Omega-3s help keep your immune, pulmonary, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems healthy.

Add sockeye salmon to your dinner rotation with this flavorful Dijon-based recipe. Other cold-water fatty fish, like mackerel and sardines, also have similarly high levels of vitamin D, per the NIH.

Enjoy Swordfish — in Moderation

a plate of swordfish which is a source of vitamin d
Source: Everyday Health
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Thinkstock

Swordfish is another favorite of Zanini’s. Three cooked ounces provide 566 IU per serving, which nearly gets you to your daily recommended intake of vitamin D, according to the NIH. “The American Heart Association [AHA] recommends eating at least two servings of fish per week, and this fish is versatile and tasty,” she adds. The AHA advises children and pregnant women to avoid large fish, such as swordfish, because they have higher levels of mercury contamination than smaller, less long-lived species. Yet the health benefits for older adults in particular outweigh the risks, according to the organization.

Try swordfish in kebabs complete with onions, green bell peppers, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes.3

Canned Tuna Packs More Than 25 Percent of Your Daily Goal

Canned Tuna high in vitamin d
Source: Everyday Health
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Shutterstock

According to the NIH, 3 oz of canned tuna in water contains 154 IU of vitamin D. The affordable cupboard staple is great for easy lunches like a classic tuna sandwich or tuna salad.

Put a healthy twist on the deli favorite with this artichoke and ripe-olive tuna salad recipe. Or include it on your dinner plate with a delicious comfort food meal like healthy tuna casserole with rigatoni. “Tuna is accessible and affordable, making it a great option for anyone,” says Zanini.

Eat Mushrooms for a Versatile Vitamin D Punch

Baked Veggie-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms From The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Family Cookbook
Source: Everyday Health
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Svoboda Studios, Inc

While mushrooms don’t naturally offer a high amount of vitamin D, some are treated with UV light, providing a larger dose of the nutrient as a result. The vitamin D amounts will vary depending on the amount of UV light the mushrooms are exposed to, according to the Agricultural Research Service. A serving has between 124 and 1,022 IU per 100 grams (g).

Growers such as Monterey Mushrooms produce varieties high in vitamin D, but you have to read the labels. Once you have them, add sautéed mushrooms to eggs or fish for a meal even richer in vitamin D. Or make a more substantial mushroom dish, such as veggie-stuffed portobellos.5

Fortified Milk Offers a Double Whammy: Vitamin D and Calcium

Fortified Milk high in vitamin d
Source: Everyday Health
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Getty Images

In addition to being an excellent source of calcium, 8 fluid ounces (fl oz) of milk has between 115 and 124 IU of vitamin D, the NIH notes. Be sure to check the label of your favorite brand for the exact amount. Fortified plant-based milks, such as soy and almond, can provide similar amounts of vitamin D, as well.

Enjoy a cold 8 oz glass of your preferred fortified milk straight up, blend it into a smoothie, or use it to whip up your choice of coffee drink.

RELATED: 9 Best and Worst Milks for Your Cholesterol Levels6

Fortified Orange Juice Can Give You a Healthy Start to the Day

Fortified Orange Juice high in vitamin d
Source: Everyday Health
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Davide Illini/Stocksy

One cup (8 fl oz) of fortified orange juice can add up to 137 IU of vitamin D to your daily total, though the NIH recommends checking the label for exact numbers because counts can vary. Serve a glass of OJ with breakfast or use it in this mango-strawberry smoothie recipe, a delicious and portable morning meal. Keep in mind that it’s generally healthiest to enjoy whole fruit rather than its juice form, since the former still contains filling fiber, so drink juice in moderation. If you have a health condition for which you need to watch your carbohydrate and sugar intake, such as diabetes, it may be best to get your vitamin D from another source. Work with your healthcare team to figure out how much, if any, OJ is right for your diet.7

Fortified Yogurt Makes for a Gut-Healthy Snack

Fortified yogurt high in vitamin d
Source: Everyday Health
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Marija Savic/Stocksy

Yogurt is a convenient, tasty snack — and when consumed plain or with fresh fruit, it’s healthy, too. This type of dairy is an excellent source of good-for-the-gut probiotics, and reaching for a fortified variety will knock off between 10 and 20 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin D, depending on the brand. Many fortified varieties are flavored (meaning they’re likely to be sugar bombs), so read the nutrition label to find out what you’re getting. The AHA recommends a max of 9 teaspoons (tsp) or 26 g of added sugar for men per day and a max of 6 tsp or 25 g of added sugar for women per day.

Try cooking a meal with plain yogurt for a vitamin D–enhanced entrée: This Middle Eastern–style chopped vegetable salad includes greens, herbs, and grains and also uses a cup of plain yogurt. It is a cooling alternative to a hot dish.

RELATED: Eat These 3 Foods for a Healthy Gut8

Cereal Can Be Fortified With Vitamin D, and Oatmeal Offers Fiber

Fortified Cereal and Oatmeal
Source: Everyday Health
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Alamy

A packet of unsweetened, fortified oatmeal can add a solid dose of vitamin D to your diet. Ready-to-eat fortified cereal typically gives you 40 IU of vitamin D per serving, per the NIH, but it may provide more if you choose a more heavily fortified cereal, like Raisin Bran, which has 60.2 IU per cup, notes the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Fortified cereal can be a solid base for a nutrient-rich, high-fiber meal — especially if you add fortified low-fat or fat-free milk to your bowl for an extra 60 IU per half cup. Or you can be more adventurous and make a breakfast cookie that includes both fortified cereal and vitamin D–fortified margarine.9

Eggs Contain Protein and Immunity-Boosting Benefits

eggs which are a source of vitamin d
Source: Everyday Health
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Jill Chen/Stocksy

Egg yolks have historically gotten a bad rap for raising levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, as Harvard Health Publishing notes. But skipping them in favor of egg whites means you’ll miss out on some of the protein and several of the minerals in yolks, such as zinc and selenium, which play a role in boosting your immune system. And you’ll miss out on vitamin D, too. One egg yolk has 41 IU, 10 percent of your daily value, per the NIH. Enjoy them in moderation.

RELATED: 7 Ways to Boost Your Immune System for Cold and Flu Season10

Sardines Give You Calcium, Omega-3s, and Protein

a plate of sardines which are high in vitamin d
Source: Everyday Health
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Danielle Tsi/Getty Images

Buying fresh fish can be pricey. If that’s holding you back, give canned sardines a try. They’re more affordable than other forms of fish and are high in protein, heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and vitamin D. Two sardines from a can offer 46 IU of the vitamin, or 12 percent of your daily value, according to the NIH. The underrated fish works well on top of salads, as well as in pasta sauces and stews.

As recommended in Monday’s article of this week, Vitamin D is an important vitamin that most people do not get enough of. It also boost one’s immune system, which is recommended for preventing COVID 19. So this article is all about foods that can help you get the vitamin D you need in your diet in addition to the sun. How has this article helped you? How can it improve your health? How can you introduce it to your diet? Healthy is the New Normal.

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Preventing COVID 19 by eating our Sockeye Salmon & Kale Salad

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Source: Shidonna Raven – Garden and Cook, all rights reserved
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Featured Photo Source: Unsplash, Petra Cigale 

In the mist of COVID 19 we are bringing you our Sockeye Salmon & Kale Salad to help you prevent contracting COVD 19 and the spread of COVID 19. As recommended in our article for this week on Monday, eating vitamin D rich foods will help boost your immune system to help you fight off disease. Kale, Egg, Sockeye Salon are all rich in vitamin D and are included in our salad. Make this salad apart of your immune system boosting diet plan and stay health while we combat the coronavirus. Health is the New Normal.

Sockeye Solmon & Kale Salad

Prep Time 30 mins
Serves 3 – 4
By Shidonna Raven

  • Cooked Filet of Sockeye Salmon
  • 1 Medium Bunch of Kale
  • 2 Boiled Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Walnuts or Pinenuts
  • 1/2 Cup Feta Cheese
  • 1/4 Purple Onion
  • 20 Cherry Tomatoes

Wash and cut kale thinly. Drain and place in serving salad bowl. Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Add them to the salad. Slice 1/4 of a purple onion thinly into rings. Add to the salad. Cut boiled eggs as you desire and add to the salad. Sprinkle nuts and feta over salad. Crumble Sockeye Salmon over salad. Drizzle salad with vinaigrette.

What other ways can you change your diet to address the current pandemic? What measures do you take to prevent COVID 19? What other foods are healing foods that address your health needs?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today. All Rights Reserved – Shidonna Raven (c) 2025 – Garden & Cook.

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Covid-19 Vaccine Hesitancy & Boosting Your Immunity

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

by Friday, February 26th 2021
Source: Katu
Feature Photo Source: Unsplash, Nelson Ndongala

It’s one of the best ways to battle Covid-19 infections, yet many are reluctant to get a vaccination, especially those in communities of color. Ken Redcross, MD, author of, Bond: The 4 Cornerstones of a Lasting and Caring Relationship with Your Doctor, joined us to talk about everything from new variants to inequitable access, line skippers to distribution disorganization, along with false information and medical skepticism are keeping many American’s from getting the Covid-19 vaccination. Dr. Redcross says we need to flip the script on vaccine hesitation and behaviors if we are going to get ahead of coronavirus surges. He also shared five proactive things you can do to help your community lower COVID-19 cases and ensure vaccinations keep working:

  • Get an extra hour of sleep. Sleep is medicine and helps you recharge immune system.
  • Consume immune boosting foods and nutrients. Eat foods high in vitamin D, omega-3 and magnesium. These include salmon, sardines, and leafy veggies.
  • Be mindful of misinformation. Ask your doctor, not your friends. And be wary of information you find online.
  • Limit unnecessary travel. The CDC currently advises people not travel for leisure, only for business or emergencies.
  • Stay clear of crowds. Now is not the time big gatherings, parties or concerts.

Dr. Redcross also says vitamin D is his secret weapon of his for improving many other health concerns for patients, including depression, viral respiratory infection, premature births, sleep deprivation and Type 2 diabetes. With nearly 90% of Americans being vitamin D deficient, and as we’re deep into the dark, rainy winter months, absorbing vitamin D from sunlight is even more challenging, especially for those with darker skin tones. Dr. Redcross stresses the importance of getting your vitamin D levels tested and supplementing according to your needs.

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Protecting against COVID19

What You Need To Know About Handwashing

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COVID 19 Protections – Basics
Source: CDC
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There is still a lot to learn about COVID 19. Russia recently approached WHO (World Health Organization) regarding putting a COVID 19 vaccine through their tests and certifications. Many companies and organizations are working on a solution to COVID 19, so we hope that a solution is not far off. In the mean time lets be certain about some CDC (Center for Disease Control) basics that are helping to prevent the spread of COVID. What are some best practices you implement daily to protect yourself and others from COVID 19? Do you wear a mask? Do you boost your immune system? Share your comments with the community by posting below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Beneficial Basil

8 Health Benefits of Basil

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Health Benefits of Basil
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Basil is definitely one of our favorite Herbs. We love enjoying a good caprese salad with Basil. What did you learn from the video? What surprised you? Do you eat and never give any thought to how food helps support your body and its functions? Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep growing.

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