HEALTH AND WELLBEING IS A MULTI-FACETED STATE WHICH IS IMPACTED BY A NUMBER OF THINGS, OF WHICH ‘WHAT WE EAT AND DRINK’ IS A MASSIVE ONE!
Having a strong immune system plays an integral part in having good health and wellbeing, and again, this is very much tied to a balanced and healthy diet.
With the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic currently being a very real threat in almost every country the world over, our immune systems have suddenly become the focus of much analysis and research.
Having a strong immune system will not only reduce your risk of contracting COVID -19, but also the risk of getting ill at any time in the future.
Now, I hear a lot about ‘boosting’ our immune systems, and whilst I understand the concept it is actually false to think diet can do this.
Our immune system is in place and capable of doing the job it was created to do.
However, obstacles and unwanted demands are often placed on our immune systems.
Maintaining a healthy diet will simply reduce or remove some of these obstacles and have it working more efficiently towards it’s original capabilities.
What a healthy and balanced diet can do to the functionality of the immune system is great…
support healthy hormonal functioning
fuel exercise and movements
control body fat, acidity and hydration levels
manage chronic inflammation
BUT, WHAT IS A HEALTHY BALANCED DIET?
Right, so we’ve established that maintaining a strong immune system requires a healthy and balanced diet, but what does this involve?
A healthy balanced diet can be considered one which includes adequate micro and macronutrients and an adequate amount of daily calories based on our current body size and lifestyle.
It also consists of minimising or eliminating the consumption of foods and drinks which could potentially be harmful to us or which have no nutritional benefit.
Now, I have found that a lot of people don’t know this, and have no clue as to what such an eating plan would look like!
I have friends who believe that processed foods with ‘fruit’, ‘fish’ or ‘low-fat’ in their title are automatically a ‘good choice’!
Now, for a diet to be healthy and balanced I believe it must have the following elements, and also not have too many ‘none healthy’ elements as to dilute these elements…
Sufficient calorie intake, based on your weight, height, age, sex and fitness goals
Sufficient macronutrient intake
Sufficient micronutrient intake
Sufficient water intake as to remain in a hydrated state
Consistency to keep this going the vast majority of the time
Now that is an overview of a healthy and balanced diet, but we also need to know how that would look in reality.
Whilst there is a whole plethora of foods and fluids that fit the bill, as well as equal or more which don’t, the basic principles your diet should follow are shown below:
Consist mainly of whole foods, with processed foods minimal or eliminated completely
Consistent consumption of healthy fats (such as those found in nuts, seeds, oily fish, avocado and olive oil)
Consistent consumption of fruits and vegetables, beans, legumes and pulses.
Sufficient protein consumption which can be achieved through lean meat sources, plants based protein sources, seafood sources or a combination of the three. These can be ‘topped up’ by supplement based proteins such as whey, casein or pea.
Sufficient (but not high) salt and sodium consumption.
Daily water intake based on your activity and size. No less than 2 litres per day.
Limited or no alcohol intake (alcohol is empty calories)
Limited trans and saturated fat intake and limited refined starches and added sugar
For example, a Mediterranean style diet ticks many of the above boxes, and whilst many may have healthy and balanced meals on occasion, there is very much a culture of fast-food / takeaways, high alcohol consumption and quick-and-easy processed meals in the UK.
Whilst the guidelines I’ve quoted above hold true, it must be accompanied by the caveat that this is based on what would be considered average people.
There are certain groups who may be more or less at risk of nutrient deficiency (e.g. iron deficiency is more prevalent in women due to menstruation).
There There are a number of other ways we can boost our immune system alongside a healthy balanced diet, including:
Regular and sufficient daily sleep patterns
Getting plenty of natural sunlight
I’d welcome any questions or feedback you may have.
Stay Safe, Stay Strong, Wash Your Hands and Do The Right Things Daily.
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