With the rapid rise in COVID-19 numbers, the world is shifting perspective on key aspects that affect our health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, it’s in our human nature to wait for a health crisis or a catastrophe before we start rethinking our health choices and the consequences that come with it.
Additionally, the rise in heart diseases, high blood pressure, and diabetes amongst many others have left us with low immunities at a crucial time where our bodies need to be strong enough to fight infections.
Today, more than ever, we need to focus on our health and wellbeing as a priority. The spread of COVID-19 has resulted in a high number of deaths, evidently linked to low immunity. Having said that, our key priority with nutrition is to focus on a balanced diet to nourish our bodies and boost our immune system, to help fight against foreign agents. These are recommendations that would be given with or without a pandemic. In this case, we hope that given the current situation this article will have a lasting impact beyond the pandemic. Nutritious and healthy choices will help to prevent, fight and hopefully allow for a safe recovery from COVID-19.
1. Increase fruit and vegetable intake. They are nutrient-dense and full of antioxidants which help fight off foreign agents and prevent cellular and tissue damage. Make at least half your plate of fruits and vegetables.
2. Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains. Whole grains are packed with essential nutrients, are high in fiber, help control blood sugar levels, and contribute to lowering the risk of disease.
3. Choose lean meats. Leans meats provide a good source of protein, which help repair and build body tissue, boost metabolism, and improve your immune response.
4. Limit salt intake to avoid water imbalance (retention). High sodium can contribute to high blood pressure and kidney pressure.
5. Limit sugar intake to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Sugar causes a drop in energy levels, slowing cognitive thinking, and memory. In the long run, excessive sugar leads to obesity and diabetes.
6. Avoid fried food and junk food. These are called empty calories, which are high in trans-fat, and low in nutrients. They cause cellular damage and lower immunity.
7. Drink approximately 2 liters of water per day. Water keeps you hydrated, helps flush out toxins from your body, and keeps your cells functioning optimally.
8. Engage in regular physical activity. First and foremost, exercise has a direct effect on your mood, allowing you to feel more energized and withstand stressful days. It decreases the risk of illnesses, effectively delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues, which helps build cardiovascular endurance, and improves bone mass.
9. Get proper sleep. Sleep is an important component for keeping your immune system in check. It repairs and rejuvenates your body, improving focus and productivity throughout the day. Poor sleeping habits can lead to heart diseases and type 2 diabetes.
10. Reduce levels of stress. Stress can lead to anxiety, lack of focus, sleeping difficulties, and depression, all of which can suppress your immune system.
If you follow these tips, you could notice an immediate change in your energy levels and mood. That change is the number one sign that your body is happy with the result (this is an easy way to assess any lifestyle changes). Your immunity will improve, and in the long run reduce the chances of health deterioration relating to heart diseases, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, and brain health. Most importantly, always listen to your body and give it what it needs.
A balanced diet is a choice that you can make starting today that leads to a better quality of life -- now and tomorrow.