Looking after ourselves during these times of uncertainty is critical. We can do this by continuing to nourish our bodies well, as well as our minds.
- Prioritise sleep, as best you can. This will not only help you manage stressful times but is key to a healthy immune system.
- Start to think about ways to unwind and switch off. Can you get out into the garden and plant some vegetables? Or take a walk in the sun.
Key nutrients for a healthy immune system
You have no doubt heard that vitamin C is important for immunity, and you’re likely getting enough from your diet already (sources include potatoes, citrus fruit, tomatoes and capsicum). The lesser-known nutrients also of key importance are omega 3 fatty acids and zinc. Zinc is found in meat, legumes, nuts, seeds dairy and eggs. Fish such as salmon and tuna are good sources of omega-3s, and tinned is just as nutritious as fresh. If you’re vegetarian, you may want to have these omega-3 foods on hand:
- Chia seeds
- Kidney beans
Keeping our good gut bacteria healthy is closely linked with a healthy immune system. Gut bacteria thrive on fibrous foods like vegetables, whole grains and legumes, and the more variety of these foods the better. Try to ‘eat the rainbow’.
A word on vitamin and mineral supplements
Unless you suffer from a specific illness or have a restricted diet, it is unlikely you need any form of nutrition supplement. Vitamin and mineral supplements are only of use if your diet is deficient, and they even state this on their packaging. Variety in what you eat is key to meeting nutrition needs. We can find variety in staples (e.g. tinned legumes, dried pasta, rice, quinoa, potatoes) as well as fresh foods such as vegetables (fresh or frozen), meats, dairy and fruit (fresh or frozen).
If you’re finding you’re getting more take away or delivered meals, there are many ways to opt for the healthier choices:
- Pizzas – get a thin crust with plenty of vegetables
- Asian dishes – if they’re low on vegetables, this is great chance to add some you’ve
got stocked in the freezer
- Indian – a side of frozen peas, corn and broccoli can be a tasty accompaniment
- Roast chicken/fried fish – choose lower fat alternatives, such as grilled with no
batter, and add the salad or vegetables sides, or throw together an easy salad at
- Continue to make water your drink of choice
Prepared by Kara Vogt – Accredited Practicing Dietitian