The World Health Organisation (WHO) is urging people to maintain a healthy lifestyle while on lockdown, saying it could boost their chances of a fast recovery should they contract Covid-19.
In addition to exercising regularly, quitting smoking and drinking, maintaining a healthy diet plays a ”crucial role” in determining how well people recover from coronavirus, the WHO has said.
Read on for tips from registered local nutritional therapist Michelle Radley on how to maintain a healthy diet while in lockdown.
Looking after yourself is more important than ever at the moment, with both food and lifestyle playing a key role in supporting your health. Here are my top 5 tips to help you keep healthy during the lockdown.
1. Embrace trying new foods
Eating a diverse range of plants is key to a healthy diet and is particularly important for gut health. It’s estimated that 70% of the immune system is located in the gut, so a healthy gut is important in order to support it. Your gut microbes thrive off you consuming a diverse range of plant fibres so feeding them with their favourite food will be beneficial.
This means that there is no need to panic the next time you can’t get hold of your usual favourite vegetable, fruit, lentils, beans or wholegrain! Instead use it as an opportunity to try something new. Fresh, frozen or tinned is fine. Often ingredients can be used interchangeably so get experimenting. Try swapping brown rice for quinoa or spinach for spring greens.
2. Eat colour
Not only are different plants packed full of immune support nutrients such as vitamin C (red pepper, kiwi & broccoli), zinc (pumpkin seeds), selenium (brazil nuts) and vitamin A (sweet potato, carrots, squash), they also contain beneficial plant chemicals, called phytonutrients, which are protective for your health. Different colours have different beneficial health properties so the more colours you eat the better.
3. Prepare for the snack attack
Snacking is even more tempting when working at home, especially when you are using the fridge as a welcomed break away from your screen. Ensuring each meal is balanced with some protein (eggs, fish, beans, tofu) and some good fats (avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds) can increase satiety for longer and help minimise reaching for snacks.
It’s a good idea to buy some healthy snacks so when you do have the urge you are able to make a healthy choice. Snacks that are rich in protein and fibre, such as nuts, nut butter, hummus & energy balls are great to help stabilise energy levels. No one enjoys an afternoon sugar crash!
4. Prioritise sleep
With limited FOMO to be had, it has never been a better time to prioritise sleep. The immune system cannot work as well if you are deprived of sleep, making it harder to fight off infections. Everyone is different on how much sleep they need but aiming for between 7-9 hours is a good goal.
Whilst it is tempting to stay up later watching Tiger King on Netflix or to have a lie in, your circadian rhythm which regulates the sleep-wake cycle loves routine so try to stick to your usual sleeping pattern where possible.
5. Self-care every day
The constant stress and uncertainty is likely to be having an impact on your wellbeing. Implementing regular self-care practices can help you manage this. We need them more than ever.
This may take the form of having a bath, meditation, journaling, a morning routine, yoga, listening to music. Choose something that you find relaxing & that works for you. Everyone is different and more importantly it is what you do every day that will make the biggest difference.
My lockdown smoothie
Smoothies are a great way to increase your plant diversity & add colour to your diet. This recipe is packed with gut & immune loving ingredients too.
2 x handfuls of spinach
1 inch of peeled fresh ginger
1-2 florets of broccoli
1 tbsp of pumpkin seeds
100-200ml of plant milk of choice or water
Add the ingredients to a blender and whizz until smooth.
I help busy professionals thrive through restoring their health & wellbeing. For more information or to book a consultation head to www.michelleradley.com or @michelleradleynutrition.