Amidst the current panic and anxiety surrounding the global pandemic that is Coronavirus, we’re all thinking of our immune systems now more than ever before.
Although immune ‘boosting’ is somewhat of a myth and eating specific foods will not ward off Coronavirus completely, certain diets and lifestyle habits can massively help to balance your immune response over the long term. This, in turn, can give you the best chance of keeping well.
From vitamin-packed peppers to fibrous veggies, Gosh! Food’s leading nutritionist Fiona Lawson has curated her expert opinion on the right ingredients for improving your body’s natural defenses:
- Think twice about orange juice
You may be convinced that a glass of OJ is giving you that boost of vitamin C, but in fact, its sugar content could be more of a hindrance than a help. One study found that drinking a glass of orange juice curbed the effectiveness of immune system cells for up to five hours!
- But add peppers instead
That’s not to say you should avoid Vitamin C altogether, as it’s essential for a robust immune system. Instead of that glass of OJ, up your fresh pepper intake instead. 100g contains four times your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.
- Sprinkle on some pumpkin seeds
Zinc is also pivotal to your immune system function. In fact, a recent review of 17 trials found that taking zinc resulted in a shorter duration of the common cold, another type of virus. Opt for pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds, both a rich source of the mineral.
- Go for garlic
The Ancient Egyptians recognised that this pungent vegetable had immense health-giving qualities. Now, modern science backs this theory, with studies finding that special compounds in garlic support immune cell response. Crush up garlic and leave it to stand for ten minutes before cooking, as this makes its immune-friendly compounds even more potent.
- Enjoy some mushrooms
The humble mushroom contains special carbohydrates called beta-glucans, known to have immune-supporting effects. Try throwing some oyster or shiitake mushrooms into a quick stir-fry or soup. Gosh! Mushroom Burgers are also a great option for a hearty mushroom-packed meal.
- Load up on fibre
Your gut microbiota, also known as the mass of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes living in your intestines, has an enormous impact on your immunity. The best way to keep them on your side is to feed them with a regular supply of fibrous foods, like fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Gosh!’s range of falafels, loaded with chickpeas, are a brilliant source of fibre.
- Be sensible in the sun
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that helps you fight infections, and the best way to get it is through sensible exposure to sunlight. But if that isn’t possible, supplementing with 10mcg of Vitamin D is a good practice too.
- Get that all-important shut-eye
Finally, good rest is just as important as good nutrition when it comes to keeping well. A review in the European Journal of Physiology revealed that a lack of sleep provokes a stress response, leading to lasting physical and mental health problems. So, switch off that phone and get to bed on time!