The significance of good nutrition can never be overemphasised, especially now. A balanced diet aids in developing a healthy immune system to fight off infections.
There is no quick cure, special food, supplement or immune booster that can prevent you from contracting an infection– not even vitamin cocktails, drips or injections. However, the consistent intake of a balanced diet will strengthen and support your immune system. The minerals and vitamins that are especially important for good health are copper; folic acid; iron; selenium; zinc; pyridoxine, vitamins B12, A, C and D.
What you need to include in your day-to-day diet
Remember that there are six food groups we need to include in our daily diet: starches; fruits; vegetables; dairy; protein; and healthy fats. It is essential to change the kinds of foods from each group daily. Try to limit take away meals to once or twice monthly.
Make starchy foods the foundation of most meals. Take a fist-sized amount of cooked starch per meal and opt for whole wheat options. Aim for three to five portions of vegetables daily and two to four fruits. These are packed with vitamin A, C and folic acid, as well as phytochemicals that support the immune system. Choose those that stay fresh longer like apples; pineapples; citrus fruits; carrots; turnips; onions; garlic and ginger.
Good sources of vitamin B12 and iron
Most nutritional products derived from animals are good sources of vitamin B12 and iron. Long-life milk, maas and yoghurt stay fresh longer than fresh milk. Skim milk powder or evaporated milk are also good options. Try to eat fish at least thrice a week like tinned tuna, pilchards or sardines. Include the bones – a good source of calcium. Eggs contain all the amino acids your body needs for repairing itself when injured or attacked. Boiled or scrambled eggs are best.
Beans, peas, lentils, peanuts and soy are good, economical sources of low-fat protein and fibre. Try to have a vegetarian meal at least once a week.
Water intake is essential, especially if you are fighting a cold or the flu. Aim for two litres daily and keep your water bottle nearby to remind you. Salt dehydrates you – use it sparingly.
Use fat and oil sparingly
Limit using fat and oil when cooking. Use healthier options in small amounts, e.g. olives, avocado, nuts.
Your liver detoxifies your body and drinking alcohol puts unnecessary strain on it. Choose healthy snacks (e.g. fruit, yoghurt) and drinks (e.g. sugar-free beverages, fat-free milk), rather than sugary foods. Choose a teaspoon of honey in hot water with some lemon juice for a sore throat.
Remember, health is wealth. Look after yourself so that it will also be possible for you to help others when necessary. Avoid smoking and exercise regularly. Have a healthy sleep cycle and minimise your exposure to stress.
Do you want to learn more about nutrition? If you do, then you should be having a look at our Specialised Nutrition Course. For more information, please follow this link.