Therapy Care’s Nutritionist, Tanya Kumar shares her top tips to keep your wellbeing on track and immune system supported amid COVID-19.
Common questions when it comes to food and nutrition are; can a healthy diet support immune system functionality? If so, what foods and supplements should I be adding to my diet?
Practicing good hygiene and social distancing remain the number one defence against contracting and spreading Coronavirus. Implementing a balanced diet that supports overall health and wellbeing is also important right now, as it keeps your body functioning well and strengthens your body’s defence system.
A healthy balanced diet made up of whole foods and a variety of nutrients, supports the functionality of your immune system.
With 20 per cent of our immune cells living in our gut, it’s critical that for our overall health, we consumer a well-balanced diet. Here are my top tips to do just that:
Get your ‘seven a day’: Eat 2-3 serves of fruit and 5-6 serves of vegetables daily. Did you know eating fruits and vegetables with the skin on provides an added boost of essential fibre that feeds the good bugs in your intestine?
Add naturally occurring prebiotics. Prebiotics improve gut health and immunity. Some great sources of prebiotic foods are dried figs, prunes, apricots, dates, garlic, onion, asparagus, beetroot, almonds, pistachios and legumes.
Polyphenols. Polyphenols are a group of plant chemicals that have health benefits and support your immune system. They are present in dark chocolate, red wine, berries, green tea, and herbs and spices.
Avoid refined foods and sugary treats. Replace refined sugar foods with whole and natural foods which provide more nutrients that support good gut health. If you’re feeling like something sweet, try mixed berries with Greek yoghurt or a smoothie.
Sleep. Lack of sleep is linked with lower immunity. When you haven’t had enough sleep, you are more prone to illness. Make sure you have a good routine that you can stick to that allows 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Water and fluids. Adequate fluid intake supports all bodily functions. Drink plenty of water, soups and broths. Avoid juices, soft drinks and cordials.
Here are my favourite pantry staples that will help you transition to a healthy diet that supports immunity:
• Assortment of dried beans and lentils
• Unsalted mixed nuts and seeds as well as nut butters
• A variety of grains like rolled oats, barley, quinoa and brown rice
• Wholegrain pasta and noodles
• Oily fish like tuna and salmon. If possible, buy fresh and freeze it
• Frozen vegetables like peas, mixed vegetables, spinach, kale, tinned tomatoes and asparagus
• Frozen fruits like strawberries, blueberries, pineapple and oranges
• Healthy cooking oils such as olive oil
• Herbs and spices and stock cubes to add flavour to your food
• Milk, including plant-based milk with added calcium like soy or almond milk