During the last few years, the incorporation of healthy habits and lifestyles has increased in our society. Furthermore, with the arrival of Covid-19, our concern for our health and well-being has intensified.
The current pandemic has had an enormous impact on our lives and has made us face stressful and distressing challenges, provoking strong emotions in both adults and children. Public health measures, such as confinement or social distancing, are necessary to reduce the spread of the virus, however, they can leave us feeling isolated and increase our levels of stress and anxiety.
Emotions and food
Emotional states such as anxiety, stress, sadness, loneliness or worry are strong determining factors for a person to eat, even without feeling physical or real hunger. A study carried out by the Spanish Society of Obesity points out that, during the confinement, 44% of Spaniards gained weight. Same thing happened in France and Belgium with an increase of 57% and 25% respectively.
Our emotions have a powerful effect on our food choices and eating habits, which will have great consequences on our health.
There is an important relationship between nutrition and the immune system. Many experts claim that eating a healthy diet and lifestyle can boost our immune system and help protect us against Covid-19. Without a doubt, nutrition is a determining component in the development and maintenance of our body's immune response, however, there are many myths about food and immunity against Coronavirus. We must highlight that there are no curative foods or type of food that protect us from being infected, as it has been implied on numerous occasions.
Balance is key
Food provides us with energy and nutrients that allow us to keep our body functioning in perfect condition. In addition, they help us to shield and strengthen our immune system whose aim is to create antibodies to protect us in the long term. Finding ourselves in a better nutritional state helps us prevent infections.
We must eat a balanced and varied diet, based on an abundant consumption of fresh products, such as fruits and vegetables, which help us to be in an optimal nutritional state. There are nutrients that are of vital importance such as copper, zinc, iron, selenium, vitamins (A, B6, B9, B12, C and D), however, it is especially important that there is not a deficit, nor any excess of these.
There are two great enemy groups of our immune system, which we must eliminate from our diet since they produce a great negative impact on our body. In the first place, foods known as ultra-processed: saturated fats, sugars and other refined products that can cause diseases such as dyslipidaemia, type 2 diabetes, vascular atheromatous alterations and even favour the appearance of tumour processes. On the other hand, we must omit the consumption of toxic substances such as alcoholic beverages and tobacco.
Malnutrition, overweight and obesity
Other factors that influence the appearance of diseases are malnutrition, overweight and obesity. All of them are associated with impaired immunity, which can make the evolutions of Covid-19 more serious, presenting a poor response to antiviral treatment and less efficacy of vaccines. Finally, obesity is considered to be one of the factors that can influence differences in mortality. A study by the Spanish Society of Obesity (SEEDO) has indicated that 80% of Spanish patients with a severe form of Coronavirus infection were obese.
Another aspect that we must consider is the great importance of vitamin D. It contributes to the absorption of calcium in the intestine, to the maintenance of bones and teeth, as well as to the normal functioning of muscles and the immune system.
Vitamin D can be found in different foods such as vegetables, mushrooms, fatty fish, eggs and dairy. Likewise, we can obtain it in a simple way when we expose ourselves to the direct sun, for at least 10-15 minutes a day.
There are population groups that are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency, including people with obesity, liver or kidney disease, and the elderly.
As we have already mentioned, our diet has a crucial role for our immune system and our mental well-being; However, we need to incorporate other healthy habits into our daily lives that help keep us healthy both in our body and mind.
Here are some easy tips that you can follow from today 😊
• Stay hydrated, drink 1.5 to 2 litres of water a day
• Practise a regular physical activity, preferably outdoor and that makes you feel good (walking, jogging for 30 minutes is an excellent start)
• If the weather allows you to do so, close your eyes and enjoy the sun for 10 to 15 minutes (your body will thank you for it!)
• Do a yoga session, there are thousands of videos and free applications that can help you. If you feel "embarrassed" at the idea of trying it out for the first time (yes, many of us think yoga is only for women and that sport and yoga are opposite activities), practise this activity alone and away from the crowd.
• Avoid ultra-processed products and beverages (cakes, chips, soups packets, frozen or non-frozen pizzas, soft drinks, etc.). Unfortunately, these products represent almost 80% of the current offer that we find in the supermarket. Tip: learn to read the labels of the products you buy and observe the ingredients they contain.
• Eat "real" food. All foods that come directly from plants or animals, such as vegetables, eggs, fruits, milk, fish and fresh meats, nuts, etc.)
• Despite the current situation, it is essential for our mental well-being to manage our stress and try to maintain a positive attitude (all the points mentioned above will help you to achieve this). You can also call or help a friend or loved one; people need to relate to each other to feel good and fulfilled.
• Avoid the habitual consumption of alcohol and tobacco, even if it seems obvious, their consumption is completely normalized in our society.
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The EcoFit Experience team