One2One Nutritionist and Registered Dietician, Aisling Pigott, shares her top tips for eating to keep the immune system healthy
Fears around Coronavirus are rising, social distancing and isolation are coming into effect. Food, nutrition and protecting our immunity can feel like a confusing and scary area. March 16th – March 22nd marks Nutrition and Hydration week, so here are some top tips to keep you fuelled, healthy and fit over the next few months
- Routines and mealtimes
No matter what happens, it’s likely that we will all go out a bit less often, which can mean that hours and days start to roll into one another. Keeping a routine around meals can help us feel a bit more ‘on track’ and encourage us to stay in touch with our hunger and fullness queues. If you become unwell, then small, regular meals will help support recovery. If your worried about preparing food (due to illness or capacity), convenience food or ready meals can still offer very good nutritional value.
- Think Fruit and Vegetables
Remember, current advice is that there is no need to panic buy large amounts of food, but you may wish to think about some simple back up fruit and vegetables that can be added to any meal. Frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables are highly nutritious, affordable, have an excellent shelf life. They can be added to many meals to encourage balance
- Immunity-boosting products
DON’T get conned into buying products or nutritional supplements which promise to boost your immunity. The recommendation to supplement with Vitamin D (10ug), however remains particularly important as being less socially active is likely to reduce sun exposure. Fruit and vegetables will give you plenty of Vitamin C, and keeping your meals as balanced and varied as possible will support immunity, gut function and health.
- Now is probably not the time to embark on a very restrictive diet
Eating well during this time is going to be important, but extreme dieting or rapid weight loss during this period could actually reduce immunity and make you more susceptible to infections. That doesn’t mean you can’t make sensible choices around food and look after your body.
- Hydration, hydration, hydration
Drinking 6-8 cups of fluid every day can be a challenge for many of us, due to busy lifestyles and cultural norms. Keeping hydrated during this period will help keep our body fighting fit. If we become unwell, then drinking lots of fluid is especially important to prevent dehydration, manage fevers and promote recovery.
Quick and Easy backup meals to have in your freezer/cupboards
- Chickpea curry
- Lentil spaghetti bolognaise with frozen veg
- Jacket potato, beans and cheese
- Tuna, sweetcorn wholegrain pasta
- Butterbean and pesto pasta
Aisling is a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association (BDA) and regularly appears on TV, radio and print. She is passionate about debunking nutrition myths and promoting healthy, body positive messages around food and nutrition. She is 100% anti-fads but pro health and wellbeing. You may have seen her on the following.
- BBC News
- BBC Wales
- BBC X-Ray
- Secrets of your supermarket food
- How to lose weight well