With the growing concerns around the spread of COVID-19, we are more aware than ever of our own health and the health of loved ones.
While following our local government guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19 is key, we can take control of our diets to help support a healthy immune system so it can respond quickly to this novel virus.
So how can you keep your whole family healthy during this time? Check out my top 3 nutrition tips:
Eat the rainbow
Whether they are fresh, frozen or tinned – fruit and vegetables offer a wide variety of key nutrients that help support a healthy immune response such as vitamins A, B, C and E. Aiming for a variety of colours is key, DIY your own medleys of veggies for stir-fries, casseroles and stews! Each different coloured fruit or vegetable offers its own unique set of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which can help support a healthy immune response.
Bonus, a variety of different plants in your diet including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and legumes contribute towards your weekly goal of 30 plants per week researched to maintain a healthy gut, which is where a lot of the work of your immune system is underway!
Pump up the protein
Protein foods such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds and legumes and beans offer additional benefits to support immune health. Animal proteins such as eggs, meat and oily fish provide the body with vitamin A important in maintaining our barriers such as skin to keep germs from entering our bodies. Vitamin A also helps mount a response to any viral or bacterial infections that make their way in too.
Foods rich in protein also provide our bodies with both iron and zinc, which also plays a key role in supporting immune health. If you find that some of your family members have more of a preference to some proteins than others, try and broaden their horizons and prepare proteins in new ways. Try adding a tin of brown lentils to your usual spaghetti Bolognese for an extra boost of iron and zinc.
Avoid the elusive promises of supplements
Unfortunately, some companies are capitalising on vulnerable people during this challenging time to make extraordinary claims about diet and supplements to boost the immune system. Due to how new COVID-19 is there is very limited evidence that any supplement can offer any kind of protection at this time.
Of course, for pregnant women, those who can’t meet their nutrient needs from their diet or have been directed otherwise by their Accredited Practising Dietitian or doctor, continuing to follow the appropriate supplementation plan for you is best.
Don’t forget you can use this time in the kitchen experimenting, and getting your kids involved in the preparation and cooking of family meals, increasing the chance of them eating their dinners too!
Of course, washing your hands, getting enough sleep, practising social distancing and moving your body are also key practices to help support a healthy body (and mind) during this pandemic.
The Dietologist, Stefanie Valakas APD, is a Sydney and online-based dietitian practice focused on the health of women facing reproductive challenges such as PCOS, endometriosis, infertility and IVF. Stefanie’s goal is to nourish growing families from conception to childhood with tailored, practical and scientific nutrition advice.
Stefanie also works with pregnant and breastfeeding women, new mums and children with various nutritional concerns. If you’re looking for support online or in one of her Sydney clinics, visit thedietologist.com.au for more information.
Find out more about Stefanie on her website thedietologist.com.au, follow on Facebook @thedietologist, Instagram: @the_dietologist, Twitter @the_dietologist
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