During the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world are feeling anxious and full of questions about staying healthy. Washing your hands and keeping your distance from others is the absolute best way to protect yourself, but our immune system needs to be in tip top shape as well.
alive has asked a range of our favourite health experts questions on how we can thrive through this troubling time. Here are their top tips in response to our first question.
What are you telling your patients about immune support?
Andy De Santis, RD, MPH
“I wish my patients asked me about it sooner! In all seriousness, as a nutrition professional I’m honest about two things with my clients during this challenging period:
- “Your immune health is largely a reflection of your overall health, which is supported by a strong diet as it always has been.”
- “I want you to eat well so you can feel your best mentally and physically during this tough period, but there isn’t one magic food or supplement that will greatly alter your immune system in a short period of time.”
Paula Blanchet, RHN
“The most important thing to do right now is eat whole foods. Lots of fresh veggies, fruit, high omega-3 foods like fish and avocado, and whole grains. Avoid processed food and go easy on the sweets and alcohol. A little is fine if it helps ease the stress, but too much will weaken the immune system. Even better ways to relieve stress are yoga, meditation, or sitting quietly, listening to music, and reading a book. Also, stay hydrated!”
Matthew Kadey, RD, MS
“There are many aspects to immune health including nutrition, physical fitness, and stress management. As a dietitian, I’ve advised people to focus on a nutrient-dense whole foods diet with a special nod to colourful fruits and vegetables since these contain an arsenal of nutrients and antioxidants linked to helping support a robust immune system.”
Dr. Gillian Flower, ND
“I am really focusing on the lifestyle and dietary practices that we can all use to support our immune function. While we don’t know if these choices can impact COVID-19 directly, they have been shown to benefit the immune system in general.”
“I encourage everyone to try and stick to their usual nightly routine so they can get a good night’s sleep, despite disruptions in our daily schedules and increased stimulation from stress, health concerns, and minute-by-minute updates about COVID-19 cases.”
“Continuing to eat a healthy, balanced diet, high in fruits and vegetables and low in sugar will help us to optimize our immune function. Daily exercise (with appropriate physical distancing) will benefit both our immune and mental state.”