We’re all going a through difficult time at the moment. Everyone is experiencing through their own struggle with the current global COVID-19 pandemic, and it can seem scary and even insurmountable at times. It’s easy to feel anxious when things are changing every day and so much is out of your control.
Try to take your mind off everything that’s happening around you and focus your energy on what you can control, like what food you’re putting in your body! With so much time spent in and around the house, there's no better opportunity than now to experiment with fresh produce and grow your own skills in the kitchen.
There’s no magical vaccine to boost your immune system, the best chance that you’ve got in keeping yourself and your family healthy is to maintain and promote a healthy and nutritious diet. Whilst we’ll be focusing on food and nutrition today, remember that diet is just one factor in improving your immune system. It’s always important to stay healthy (and sane) by practicing daily exercise and regular sleep patterns.
So What Foods Should I Be Eating?
“There’s no one food which will supercharge your immune system” says Professor Clare Collins, a dietician at the University of Newcastle. Unfortunately, there’s no single fruit or vegetable which will stave off all infections and boost your immune system. In order to keep your body healthy and immune system functioning at full capacity, it’s integral to eat a range of food groups that contain the Vitamins A, B, C, D and E as well as minerals like iron, zinc and selenium.
But what foods contain these vitamin groups? Read to find out more.
Vitamin A is used to help make antibodies to neutralize pathogens that cause infections. Vitamin A is found in fish, egg yolk, cheeses, tofu, nuts, seeds and whole grains. But it doesn't stop there! Vegetables like leafy greens, pumpkins and carrots contain beta-carotene which your body converts to Vitamin A.
Once your body has recognised a foreign pathogen, B Vitamins contribute to your body's first response. Particularly vitamins B6 (riboflavin), B9 (folate) and B12 (cyanocobalamin). These vitamins help your bodies NKC (Natural Killer Cells) to cause infected cells to implode.
B6 is found in cereals, legumes, leafy greens, nuts, chicken and meat
B9 is found again in leafy greens, legumes, nuts and seeds
B12 is found in animal products, like eggs, meat, dairy but also soy milk.
Vitamin C & E
When your body is fighting off an infection, it goes through a process called oxidative stress, which is an imbalance of free radical cells and antioxidants in the body. This may cause mild inflammation in some cases as the body is fighting off an infection. Vitamin’s C and E help protect your cells from this oxidative stress.
Vitamin C is found in oranges, lemons, limes, broccoli, tomato, berries and capsicum
Vitamin E is found mainly in nuts, leafy greens and vegetable based oils.
This vitamin plays a critical role in promoting immune response. It has both anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties and is crucial for the activation of immune system defenses. Natural daily exposure to the sun allows the body to naturally produce Vitamin D, but food sources include eggs, fish and some milk and dairy with added Vitamin D.
Iron, Zinc, Selenium
These important minerals perform a variety of important functions to keep our body going but most importantly they promote the growth of immune cells. Zinc and selenium are natural antioxidants, meaning they help combat the damage caused from oxidative stress.
Iron is found in meat, chicken and fish. Vegan sources include legumes, whole grains and cereals.
Zinc is found in seafood, meat, chicken, beans and nuts
Selenium is most abundant in nuts, meats, cereals and mushrooms.
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Fruit & Veg - Cereals - Grains - Seeds - Nuts
Yes, that was a lot of information to take in at once, but hopefully you’ve understood the main idea of the article. A balanced diet of unprocessed natural foods will help support your body's immune system functions and keep you healthy.
Eating a balanced, fresh diet will not automatically make you immune to any infections but it gives your body its best shot! A truly healthy immune system is dependent on a nutritious diet, normal sleep patterns and daily exercise. Remember to social distance and wash your hands regularly to protect yourself and those members of the community who are most vulnerable in these times.
Take a break from the constant news cycle and put your phone down or close your laptop. Step outside and take a deep breath in and out. Face things one day at a time and start to take control over the factors in your life that you can influence.
You and your body will feel a whole lot better for it.
Thanks for reading!