Pandemic Protection: staying healthy & foods that boost your immune system
Safeguard yourself with optimal nutrition
The first thing that you should know is that scientist’s rate nutrition as the most important single determinant of immune responses. So, good nutrition is paramount and malnutrition will repress the immune system and lower defences. Malnutrition can take the form of under-nutrition (not eating enough or not getting the right nutrients) or over-nutrition (which refers to overweight and obesity).
There two golden rules of good nutrition are:
Rule # 1: Meet your daily intakes for fruit and vegetables. Eating a rainbow of coloured fruit and veg every day will give you the best chance of obtaining the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients your body needs from foods that boost your immunity in the fight against infection.
Rule # 2: Eat real food. That means the unprocessed, wholefood type that is as close to its natural state as possible. Avoid processed foods and those that contain high fat/sugar/salt or additives, as these foods suppress the immune system.
If you follow the two rules above then there’s no need to focus on individual nutrient intakes. However, if you like to know the bolstering immune function nitty gritty then you should be aiming for these specific nutrients:
- Protein to build and repair. Get yours up by eating meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds.
- Antioxidant Vitamins A, C and E which will neutralise your free radicals. If you’re eating a good spread of colourful veges and fruit each day you’ll be able to easily achieve your targets.
- Zinc which is crucial for healing. Obtain yours via seafood, meat, poultry, lentils, quinoa and spinach.
- Iron which supports immune cells to proliferate. Boost iron with red meat, poultry and seafood or vegetarians sources such as beans, lentils, kale and broccoli.
- Vitamin D to aid immune T cell function. Optimise yours by getting sunlight on your skin every day.
Whilst you might think taking a supplement is a good way of side-stepping the need to eat healthy food, you should be aware that supplements can only be effective if your diet is severely lacking. Researchers now agree that the best result comes from eating unprocessed, healthy foods. That’s because food comprises so many tiny elements that work in synergy in the body to support wellness. Food is not just made up of discrete vitamins and minerals packaged together like a pill.
8 other top tips to resist infection
- Wash your hands regularly. Our skin is our largest organ and protective barrier, so keeping hands clean means we flush away any bacteria or viruses before they enter our body and cause havoc. Hand washing is your number one defence against contracting COVID-19.
- Get outdoors. It’s getting harder to get out and about with lockdowns pending, but it’s absolutely vital for your immune system to have fresh air so make sure you utilise backyard or balcony space and open some windows. Spending time outside has been scientifically proven to improve wellbeing, help diversify the microbiome and can give you a dose of Vitamin D via sunshine.
- Exercise regularly. Physical movement has been shown to boost immune compounds and rid the body of dead cells. The rise in body temperature can also help kill bacteria. While the gyms are closed, why not try one of the many online workouts going around or take a brisk walk in an open area?
- Prioritise sleep. Studies show that sleep deprivation causes a reduction in our infection-fighting antibodies which leaves us more prone to illness.
- Think of your gut. 80% of our immune system is located in our digestive system so keep your gut healthy by eating lots of fibre-rich foods that help good bacteria to thrive. Other good options are probiotic foods such as raw sauerkraut, miso, yogurt, kefir and kimchi.
- Add some spice. Cook with onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, black peppercorn, cayenne pepper, curry and allspice as they contain components that help to boost your immune system.
- Stay hydrated. Keeping your body topped up with water is important for the movement of lymph, which carries immune cells around the body.
- STAY HOME. The best type of prevention is distancing yourself and limiting crossover of others. When in doubt pretend you have the infection and you don't want to spread it to anyone else. Who would have thought that we all have the opprotunity to save the world by staying home.
We know many of you are feeling nervous and uncertain at the moment which is quite understandable. We want to take this opportunity to send our best wishes to all our customers. We hope you can get through this tumultuous time with your health and your sense of humour intact.