A healthy diet and lifestyle should not be forgotten in our battle against Covid-19. While following the Government
guidelines is absolutely key there are things we can do to help look after ourselves during this difficult time.
We are equipped with our own protective barrier called the mucosal immune system. This acts as the primary defence mechanism against microbes, including viruses. It is found in the respiratory, gastrointestinal (gut) and urinary systems.
Your mucosal immune system, which has its own microbiome (friendly bacteria), contains more than 80% of all antibody-producing cells in the body. In the respiratory system it therefore provides your primary defence mechanism again viruses.
Some scientists have argued that the reason many people remain asymptomatic or only suffer a mild to moderate disease when infected with Covid-19 may be down to their mucosal immune system.
"Could it be that this is due to early mucosal immune responses that succeed in containing and eliminating the infection before it becomes serious?”
The lining of the upper respiratory system (nose, mouth, throat) is the first site that a virus comes into contact with. We should, therefore, do all we can to strengthen this barrier for our own personal protection. Beyond wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and social distancing, supporting our immune system is key.
Here are some nutrition and lifestyle tips for keeping your respiratory immune system healthy:
Eat a rainbow – try to eat as many different coloured vegetables and fruit daily. These contain different antioxidants which protect our respiratory cells from damage and reduce inflammation.
Keep yourself hydrated – drink 1.5 – 2L of water or herbal teas daily.
Eat plenty of oily fish (aim for three portions per week) to improve your omega 6:3 balance and reduce inflammation.
Avoid high sugar foods and white refined carbohydrates which can suppress the immune system.
Exchange white refined carbohydrates for wholegrains (e.g. brown rice, wholemeal bread, oats).
Maintain a healthy weight.
Take vitamin C and Vitamin D.
Take a probiotic.
Reduce stress by practising relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation.
Take regular exercise. Although the gyms are closed we can still go for a daily walk and take exercise classes on-line.
Dr Sharon Pitt is a registered nutritionist at Nutrition First, with 18 years’ experience. Nutrition First is a small and personal nutrition consultancy providing expert nutrition advice, based on sound scientific evidence.
At Nutrition First we see patients with a whole range of conditions at all stages of life, as well as helping those who simply wish to maintain and optimise their health.
Contact us at Nutrition First to see how we can help you.