Our own immunity to diseases and viruses is of importance at this current time. This is an anxious and confusing time, with lots of advice floating around and suddenly extra information on supplements that may help fight off CO-VID. Garlic is one example that I have seen, more on that one later! So, whilst we are trying to feed our families during lockdown, we must ensure we use diet to maintain our health and boost our immunity too. The simple fact is, there is no one nutrient that helps keep our body’s immune system in tip top condition.
Furthermore, whilst we ensure our diet is good for our physical health; we must remember that it can also play a part in our mental health too. The area of Nutritional Psychiatry is relatively new but research is starting to show that not only can what we eat affect us physically, but it can play a part in how we feel mentally too. People who eat a traditional diet, for example, Japanese or Mediterranean are 25 – 35% less likely to suffer from Depression.
So, what can we do? Well, you might be interested to learn that eating a diet that boosts our Immunity contains nutrients that will also boost our mood and help our mental health. The diagram below shows exactly what we need:
As you can see there is a lot of cross over and there is no one super nutrient; we need a variety of nutrients to help our immune system and mental health. So where can we get these from? Well, that could take up an entire book full of different recipes! However, in the meantime here are a few ideas on what you could do:
- Keep fat in your diet. Healthy fats and oils, such as rapeseed or olive oil. Try to eat oily fish twice a week, they are a great source of omega 3.
- Get your nuts and seeds. Not only a source of healthy fats but also a good source of vital nutrients such as vitamin E, Folate, Zinc and Selenium. They make a good snack too.
- Ensure you get a mixture of plant based and meat for protein and the more diverse your diet, the more friendly bacteria get into your gut and help maintain health.
- Ensure you continue to get dairy – either cow or fortified plant based. Aim for probiotic yoghurts as well. More probiotics can be found in kimchi, kefir, miso and kombucha. Probiotics help maintain a healthy gut; healthy gut, more nutrients absorbed, leading onto a healthier you.
- Don’t cut out any food groups unnecessarily, now is not the time to be restrictive. Cutting out a food group, may cut out a vital source of nutrients.
- Remember, food first, then supplementation. If you see an advert for a supplement and it sounds too good to be true it probably is. A lot of these don’t have the research or science-based evidence to back up their claim. Don’t start spending money on supplements at the expense of not eating a food group or not purchasing food. One example is garlic. You may have seen adverts or articles that say garlic can prevent CO-VID? Sorry, no it can’t. Also, garlic is a high FODMAP food, so if you have IBS or are prone to gut issues during training then garlic could flare up symptoms.
- Beans on toast, jacket potatoes with fillings, pasta with pesto all make great meals. If you have got a shop brought pizza or family meal, add extra veg on the pizza or add a side salad to make it healthier and get more nutrients.
- Buy local and eat seasonally, get your five a day. Five a day can come from juice, frozen, tinned or fresh. The palm of your hand is a good indicator of one portion.
- Lastly, eat the rainbow! The greater the variety of colours you consume when eating fruit, veg, wholegrains, meat and dairy then you will get all the nutrients you need.
On the Ridgeway Nutrition website there are two fact sheets that go into both these topics in more detail. Flick specialises in Sport and Performance Nutrition, currently completing a MSc in Applied Sport and Exercise Nutrition. She provides a range of services covering nutritional analysis, diet and healthy eating plans and recipe / snack advice that are aligned to you and your goals. She can meet in person or do consultations online. She is with you every step of the way with regular consultations or check-ups via secure messaging.
About The Author
Flick is a certified UK Anti-Doping Advisor ensuring you remain clean and use the right supplements in the right way at the right time. She is also an ISAK certified Level 1 Anthropometrist for body composition analysis.