Try the COVID diet plan to say fit and healthy with stronger immune system during lockdown  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
- Eating a balanced diet will help you stay healthy and fit with stronger immune system
- People who make healthier food choices tend to be fitter with lower risk of chronic conditions
- Here are some key nutrients that will help you lose weight, boost immunity and improve overall health
New Delhi: Good nutrition and regular physical activity are the backbone to a healthier, fitter life. Eating well is even more crucial in times like these when your immune system might need to fight back and defend you against viruses, including the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Excess body fat, especially belly fat, triggers immune cells that can harm your body. Eating a varied, balanced diet will also help you maintain a healthy weight with stronger immunity. Given the link between nutrition, body weight, immune system and COVID-19, we’ve listed some key nutrients that you can include in your healthy ‘COVID diet’ plan to help you stay hale and hearty, maintain weight loss during the lockdown.
Perhaps, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have shifted our focus to healthful behaviours, particularly immunity-boosting foods, in the absence of a safe vaccine and treatment for the virus. But figuring out what to eat to stay fit can be yet another daily challenge. This simple diet plan that includes several vital nutrients involved with the normal functioning of the immune system such as copper, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, iron and dietary fibre (COVID) can come in handy when meal prepping.
Foods to eat on the COVID diet to support immunity, promote weight loss
- Copper: This essential micronutrient is rarely discussed although it plays a major role in maintaining a healthy body, including the normal functioning of the immune system. Copper helps you make red blood cells, keep nerve cells healthy, break down fat, form collagen, and support the immune system. It is essential for growth and overall health. Food sources rich in copper are seafood (lobster, squid, oyster), nuts, beans (lentils, soybeans), fruit and vegetables, etc.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: They are healthful and essential fats that have many health benefits. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can improve inflammation, insulin resistance, and several heart disease risk factors. Omega-3s can help fight depression and play an essential role in supporting the immune system. Research also suggests that omega-3s may help you lose weight and combat obesity. Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, sardines, trout, catfish, herring, mackerel, chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, spinach, etc.
- Vitamin D: There is mounting evidence that vitamin D may have benefits for immune health. Recently, a study claimed that low levels of vitamin D are linked to higher rates of COVID-19 mortality. Studies have also suggested that vitamin D may help protect against respiratory infections. The sunshine vitamin may also help prevent heart disease, ward off depression and boost weight loss. Egg yolk, sardines, salmon, shrimp and fortified foods such as orange juice, milk, yogurt and cereal are foods to eat to improve your vitamin D levels.
- Iron: The benefits of this nutrient range from boosting immunity and haemoglobin to eliminating fatigue and preserving many vital functions in the body. Iron is an important micronutrient for a healthy pregnancy. Some of the best food sources of iron include – egg, liver, beef, canned salmon, legumes (lentils, beans and chickpeas), nuts (cashews and almonds), wholegrain cereals, dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli, etc.
- Dietary fibre: Dietary fibre helps you lose weight and reduce belly fat, It reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain forms of cancer. It promotes healthier gut bacteria, which contribute to a healthy immune system. Fibre is essential for your digestive health and regular bowel movements among several other important bodily functions. Ensure that you get a variety of fibre from whole fruits, vegetables, and grains to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Foods rich in dietary fibre are broccoli, carrots, peas, beans, pulses, berries, pears, oranges, wholegrains, nuts and seeds.
The bottom line is, a healthy, balanced diet – consisting of plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and wholegrains – along with physical activity will strengthen your immune system, keep you fit.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.