As we are all spending much more time at home, now is the perfect opportunity to focus on nutrition – making sure we’re adjusting our diets to fit our new ‘normal’, while incorporating ingredients that help boost, not only our immune system, but also our mood.
Alan Wichert, Executive Chef at BodyHoliday, offers his top tips on maintaining a healthy balanced diet during isolation and the immune boosting foods we should all be consuming.
Isolation can be a lonely experience which can prove impactful on our mental health, but there are some foods that can help to boost the body’s natural serotonin levels and therefore our mood. Incorporating foods rich in vitamin B6, vitamin D and omega–3, such as white poultry, chickpeas, avocados, salmon, hazelnuts, brown rice and green tea, in the coming weeks will certainly help to lift your spirits.
Of course, it is currently even more vital that we ensure our immune system is working to the best of its ability. With over 70% of the immune system existing in the gut, taking more notice of what we eat is one of the most powerful ways of supporting it and boosting our overall health.
Nutritional deficiencies can impair immune function, increasing both the risk and severity of infection. Vitamin C, for example, acts like your personal bodyguard, helping to protect cells and assist in healing, while studies have shown that vitamin D can help immune cells identify and destroy bacteria and viruses.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are the best sources of vitamins and minerals around, which is why it’s so important to eat a good variety every day. Whilst we have a few more hours in the day to play with, take the time to whip up some restorative smoothies, juices and soups from fresh fruits, vegetables, quality protein and herbs. Be sure to include anti-inflammatory ingredients such as garlic, ginger, lemongrass and turmeric for an added immunity boost and to pack in some flavour!
Probiotic and fermented foods are also brimming with the healthy bacteria our guts need to do their very best work and enable nutrients to be better absorbed into the bloodstream. On your next trip to the supermarket, be sure to keep an eye out for ingredients such as tempeh, miso, kefir, probiotic yoghurt and sauerkraut. Not only can they add a delicious element to a meal or snack, but they’ll also stand you in good stead to fight off unwanted bacteria.
If you are looking for three simple ways to change your diet for the better during isolation though, I would recommend:
- Drinking lots of water and tasty detox–friendly teas
- Ensure you’re consuming as much fresh fruit and vegetables as possible
- Incorporate plenty of lean protein into your diet, such as fish, lean chicken, turkey and pulses
For a quick way to incorporate some of these healthy foods into your diet, watch Chef Alan show us how to whip up an immune boosting fruit smoothie here.