Covid-19 and Nutrition: 5 eating habits for a strong immune system

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Since the beginning of 2020, the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, better known as COVID-19, has defined the daily lives of all people. During this pandemic period, we began to worry about our immune system regarding the outcome of the disease in case of an outbreak.

Indeed, the World Health Organisation raised the alarm about certain groups of people being more predisposed to more severe disease. These were obese people, people with type 2 diabetes and people with compromised immune systems. Key factors leading to these diseases are diet. With a few small changes they can be reversed before it is too late.

More specifically, in today’s article we will list useful and practical dietary tips to help boost both our health and our immune system, which proves to be a cornerstone in protecting our body against the virus.

How nutrition boosts our immune system

But how does our diet help our immune system? The need for better nutrition is not limited to times of illness, but affects us every day. However, these days require armouring our immune system and diet plays a very important role in this. Our immune system is constantly under fire from oxidative stress and we need to boost it through our food. To suppress the harmful effects of oxidative stress we choose foods rich in antioxidants. What are these? Our common vitamin C, carotenoids that we get through vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc, copper, etc. In fact, giving vitamin C 50mg/kg body weight to a patient with COVID-19 every 6 hours for 96 hours was shown to reduce mortality rate and significantly increase days out of ICU compared to people who did not receive vitamin C. Along with vitamin C, we give 5 important dietary tips that significantly reduce-in accordance with studies-the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes as well as cardiovascular diseases that show to be a strong predisposition to severe COVID-19 disease.

The 5 Nutrition Habits for a stronger immune system

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Reduce added sugar

Avoid excessive sugar intake by eating too many ready-made sweets, spreads or sugary drinks. Opt for more natural forms of sweeteners that will give you fewer calories as well as a smoother sugar curve. One such solution is stevia, saccharin or aspartame, or consider making a candy with dates and less sugar.

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Find light alternatives

Choose products with a lower percentage of fat!

Low-fat or light alternatives have come and settled on supermarket shelves and many of them are excellent alternatives for reducing unnecessary saturated fat. Plus, they are not inferior in taste and texture to full fat. We advise you to try dairy products (cheeses, milks, yoghurts) with less fat content.

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Drink more water

Do not neglect to drink enough water. Good hydration of our body protects first from dehydration, then contributes to good kidney function for the elimination of toxins (even more necessary for the COVID-19 period) and a multitude of other complications related to insufficient hydration (blood, temperature, good brain function, etc.). Therefore, drink more water!

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Choose meal rich in veggies

Add vegetables to meals and snacks. The presence of fresh vegetables in foods gives us the abundance of vitamins, antioxidants and fibre that are essential for good health.

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Do not forget! At least 1 fruit a day!

In Greece we have a saying that goes “one apple per day, drives the doctor away!”. Do not forget at least any fruit a day for the harmonious functioning of our gastrointestinal tract, as well as the intake of all nutrients. Prefer fresh fruits to dried fruits and juices.

The benefits of a healthy nutrition

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The benefits of a healthy diet are obvious with the simplest of examples. The mood for movement and life increases, our psychology improves. By following the Mediterranean diet, which has emerged as the ideal dietary pattern, we can ensure an armored immune system that will intercept both the mild and severe effects of COVID-19.

We prefer natural foods, movement in our lives even with at least a little walking daily and with small changes such as increasing our consumption of fruits and vegetables. In this way we see better functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, and in increasing the consumption of olive oil and unsalted nuts we benefit the health of the heart and blood vessels. Take advantage of the plethora of products now available on the market and make wiser choices for a stronger immune system!

Alexandra Kontodimou
Alexandra Kontodimou

Dietitian-Nutritionist MSc
Nutrition Home, 71 Tsimiski, Thessaloniki