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Tuesday, April 21, 2020


Your best advice is out there on government websites as to what you should do to help prevent catching the Coronavirus and we are getting to know what to do and what not to do and incorporating it into our lifestyles and most people in Australia are doing a pretty good job of it.!

In regards to your personal health and wellbeing here are some things you can take control of to help keep your body in balance.

Optimise your immune and other systems in your body so that it can take care of you, specially because we don't have a vaccine yet.

How to do that:

Keep levels of nutrients optimal via a WFPB (whole-foods, plant-based) diet, not just for immune system function, but for all bodily functions.

Vitamin A, C, E, B-6, folic acid, zinc, selenium, iron and copper are all needed for propper immune function.  A variety of foods that contain these nutrients and not just focusing on one element (vitamin C), is important for key systems to function synergistically.  The body absorbs nutrients best when others are available for use, to help with transportation and absorption in and out of cells.  The biochemistry of the body relies on availability of all of these nutrients together, at various times.

Well known immune system foods - Found in citrus, dark green vegetables, red bell peppers, broccoli, garlic, ginger, spinach, yogurt, almonds, honey, turmeric, green tea, papaya, poultry, kiwi, sunflower seeds, shellfish, native ingredients like Kakadu plum and other native fruits which are high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.  To be honest, eating a variety of colourful foods and food groups is the best thing you can do.  Keep clean skin on most foods and don't heat them too much as some nutrients, like vitamin C can be destroyed by heat.  (Some nutrients in foods are enhanced by heat!)

Superfoods are a great way of boosting your nutrients. They are natural and nutrient-dense foods that contain higher amounts of certain nutrients which may help boost or prevent nutrient deficiencies.  

Antioxidants - help fight free radicals, oxidative stress and keep cells protected.  Our cells are what make us and keep us functioning.  We want to protect them so they can do their programmed tasks each day.  We are consistently replacing and replicating cells all the time so vital nutrients are also needed to keep this system going all day every day, from conception to death.  Quality or superior antioxidants with high ORAC values contain hydrophilic and lipophilic protection, meaning that they can protect cells from outside of a cell membrane (hydrophilic) and the inside contents of cells (lipophilic).  Lipophilic antioxidants protect cellular DNA which is important to prevent diseases like cancer, Alzheimers and other degenerative diseases.  Hydrophilic antioxidants do not accumulate in the body and are excreted every day, whereas lipophilic antioxidants penetrate the lipoprotein cell membrane more easily and so are more bio available.  So having antioxidants that have both can provide more protection from oxidative stress.  In research, many native ingredients have been shown to display these superior phytonutrients.  Consuming foods naturally high in phytonutrients can be more effective than taking supplements in healthy people.  A plant-based diet contains many foods that contain protective phytonutrients.

Eating whole-foods with plenty of fibre, plant-based with a variety of colours and food groups is so important, especially when you eat them in their appropriate proportions, depending who you are, what you do, your demographic, work tasks, sport, special needs or illness. 

Lifestyle is incredibly important because holistically, mind and body are one.  What effects one, effects the other.  So move regularly, stay fit and mentally healthy by exercising and doing stress relief activities.  Keep connected if not in person then by other means.

Staying hydrated is very important because cell function is optimal when the body is completely hydrated.  Water is an essential element needed for the human body, vital organs and their functioning.   Be careful not to dehydrate when drinking too much alcohol, coffee and tea.

Sugar can cause inflammation and depress the immune system.  You would be crazy to smoke given the fact that corona virus attacks the lungs.  Now would be a great time to stop if you can.

Limit trans and saturated fats, unhealthy oils, sugars and sodium from your diet.  Reduce over processed, refined foods with nasty additives and switch to healthier options.

Stay within your calorie needs as obesity can put you at greater risk of being hospitalised with coronavirus and other diseases.

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin (which means we need to consume it every day via food, as it is not stored).  Vitamin C is an outstanding nutrient that plays a role in our immune function. But don't just rely on one vitamin for the immune system.  As mentioned, we must eat a variety of nutrients every day if you want to stay holistically healthy.  Be mindful and eat for health most of the time.

Source quality, local grown ingredients where you can.  Keeping flexible with your options around food can help in social situations with family and friends.  Eating a WFPB diet can help maintain weight in the long run and can also help prevent and reduce the chance of developing chronic diseases.  Sustainable eating habits are good for the planet too.

In conclusion - eating a WFPB (whole-foods plant-based) diet & live a healthy lifestyle doesn't rule out any food type, it just focuses on plants like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, legumes, seeds and nuts, minimises animal products, avoids unhealthy foods.  Meat, dairy, poultry, seafood, eggs are seen as a complement to a plant-based meal, not the reverse.

Cheers to good health and maximising your bodies capabilities to take care of itself, naturally.

Julie Merlet - Nutritionist at NATIF.