As the weather starts to warm up, March is the perfect month to start thinking about getting ready for the summer. With a little luck and a lot of science, this summer should be very different from the last.
Thinking about eating healthy isn’t only important for looking good. It’s also important to manage a healthy diet for the next few months so you can avoid being in a higher risk of worsened outcomes from COVID-19. Unfortunately, there is no single hint or tip that can help improve your diet and boost your immune system. There are hundreds of variables that impact what we eat, how much physical activity we get, and our weight.
Some of the fundamentals of a healthy diet include a variety of nutrient-dense foods that avoid lots of added sugars, saturated fat and sodium. You also want to be aware of foods and supplements that have the right nutrients to strengthen your immune system to fight off any illness you may pick up. Foods that are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D (especially during Covid), and antioxidants will help keep your immune system going as you push towards a better you this summer.
Tip 1: Build Up Your Stock of Fruits & Vegetables (Even if it comes from the frozen food aisle)
Look for any types of vegetables and fruits (particularly whole fruit) to keep in your house. If you’ve cut back on your grocery shopping frequency during Covid, a great solution is to stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables. Frozen fruits are great for any occasion whether it be for breakfast, a snack, or as a healthy dessert. Additionally, most nutritionists say that nutrient damage from freezing is very minimal! You can also look for canned vegetables and shelf-stable packaged fruits.
Tip 2: Dairy and Protein Are Your Friend
Dairy, yogurt, and cheese, including lactose-free versions are a great starting point for finding your balance. Some of the top sources of protein recommended come from fish, poultry, dairy products, beans, nuts and seeds, tofu and soy products.
Fortunately, Spain is one of the many European countries where people consume an abundance of fish. Statistically, Hake and whiting were the most consumed in Spain in 2019. A volume of 118.5 million kilograms of hake consumption was observed in Spanish households in that year. In turn, the total consumption of fishery and aquaculture products in the EU was estimated at 24,36 kg per capita (live weight)
Tip 3: Find Your Vitamins
Vitamin D: One of the vitamins that took center stage during 2020 was Vitamin D. While further research is needed, various studies associated low vitamin D levels with an increased risk of COVID-19 complications. However, even before Covid, Vitamin D has been hailed as one of the top nutrients for overall health. It plays a vital role in immunity, mental well-being, maintaining bone and skin health, and protecting against chronic disease.
Popular foods that are known to be high in vitamin D are again found in fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon. You can also find it in cheese, egg yolks, and foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals.
While your skin naturally produces vitamin D when exposed to the sun, concerns about ultraviolet (UV) rays and regional limitations to sunlight have led many consumers to supplement with vitamin D.
Vitamin C: Some of the commonly known benefits of vitamin C include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, and eye issues. As another vitamin in the Covid essential kit, you can find this vitamin in citrus fruits (such as oranges), strawberries, melons, broccoli, tomatoes and peppers.
Beta-carotene: Beta carotene is a red-orange pigment which is converted into vitamin A, an essential vitamin. Beta carotene is a carotenoid and an antioxidant and can be found in foods like pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, carrots and mangos
Probiotics: Probiotics are known as “good” live bacteria that have been studied in the prevention and treatment of some illnesses. Probiotics are best known to maintain a healthy digestive tract and a healthy immune system to prevent against infection diseases. They can be found in fermented foods such as yogurt and kimchi.
Zinc: Zinc is not only important because it aids the immune system in fighting off bacteria and viruses, it also helps wounds heal and is important for maintaining a proper sense of taste and smell. Zinc is a vital addition so that over 300 enzymes can properly function in the body.
Fortunately, zinc can be found in a variety of foods, including meats and seafood, in addition to foods high in protein like beans and nuts. It can also be found in wheat germ, beans, nuts and tofu.