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7 nutritional tips to help support your immune system

I know right now we are looking at everything we can do to stay healthy and not contract Covid-19 so I wanted to share some evidence based nutrition with you but first let me introduce myself…

My name is Melissa and I am a Nutritionist & Holistic Health Coach. I believe we should all know how to regain control of our nutrition and mindset and ditch the diets. I am the founder of The Delicious Nutritionist where I share nutritious and delicious recipes and holistic nutrition advice.

Stay well nourished 

It is worth noting that nutrition and infection are linked, where if you are well nourished you are less likely to have an infection. So here are the key nutrients and foods you should be aware of...

1. The Mediterranean diet. This diet is high in vegetables, whole-grains and olive oil and low in red meat and alcohol. Studies have shown it is linked with higher cognitive function and a longer life. So try out some Turkish mezze, fish recipes or greek salads for a change. 

2. Did you know we need 30g of fibre a day and a diet high in fibre is linked with a reduced incidence of breast cancer and better gut health? In fact 38% of cancers are preventable and there is strong evidence that whole grains and fibre reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and supports the gut which in turn supports our immune system. However, processed meats are linked with an increased risk of colorectal cancer so limit this to once a week. 

3. Vitamin A plays a role in the immune response; a deficiency in this vitamin may increase the likelihood of infection by the eyes, respiratory tract or gastrointestinal tract. Vitamin A is found in broccoli, spinach, kale, dairy fish and eggs. Why not make a open omelette with spinach, cheese and tuna fish.

4. Vitamins C and vitamin E plays a role in cell membranes and free radical damage. Vitamin E has been shown to contribute to a healthy immune response in ageing and to reduce upper respiratory tract infections. Deficiencies lead to weakened immune system and higher infection risk. Vitamin C is found in cabbage, onions, oranges, peppers, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, mango and strawberries. Vitamin E is found in vegetable oils, nuts, sunflower seeds, green vegetables and fortified foods. Why not make a fruit smoothie or add some sunflower seeds to your porridge to get your vitamin dose.

5. The sunshine vitamin. I hope you have made use of the sunshine during lockdown as vitamin D has been linked to reduce risk of airway infections if you are not topped up of this vitamin. Vitamin D is found in foods such as salmon, dairy products and red meat. If you are concerned you are not getting enough from the sun, take a supplement (please contact your doctor for advice).

6. Zinc can’t be stored in the body so low intake can lead to rapid deficiency, which is linked with impaired immune function. Zinc can be found in lentils, chickpea, seeds and shellfish so why not try a lentil dhal or adding some prawns to a risotto.

7. Selenium can help with viral infections as it plays a role in inflammatory response. In deficient people, supplementation can improve the immune response. Selenium is found in sardines, tuna, brazil nuts, prawns ,turkey and chicken.

This summary is not meant to suggest that COVID-19 can be prevented, treated or symptoms reduced with diet but highlighting the importance of good nutritional food in this global pandemic. And of course exercise, sleep and mental health is important in supporting a healthy immune system. It is important to relax and set boundaries from the news and social media. Luhv drinks have created a Calm shot which gives you that dose of zen and overall calming experience. A drink designed to help you relax and unwind, perfect for when you are feeling overwhelmed.

Written by Melissa Kuman (ANutr BSc Hons)

Instagram: @thedeliciousnutritionist


Mellisa has developed a program to help support your immune system, which can be found here

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