If ever there were a time to eat more plants and boost your family’s health than this is it!

As families across the nation impose self-isolation, essentially locking ourselves down with our families for an undetermined amount of time amid the COVID-19 pandemic, staying healthy is more important than ever.

Remedy Nutritionist Jacqueline Alwill shares six ways to boost your immune system, energy and mood so you can best prepare yourself for the months ahead.

Jacqueline Alwill

Nutritionist Jacqueline Alwill says staying healthy is easy if you do a few simple things.

1. Soak up sunshine

Make the most of the sun where possible and soak up all that beautiful Vitamin D to give your body a boost. Vitamin D from the sun can help fight bacteria and viruses as well as strengthen the immune system. Aim for 10-15 minutes of sunshine in your lunch break or with the kids and if you’re able, expose your stomach or back for optimum absorption.

2. Reach for immune boosting foods

There are so many great ways you can pack a heap of immune-boosting ingredients into your meals and snacks throughout the day, but having them on hand to start is the key.

Add these ingredients to your shopping list:

  • Ginger: Pop it into tea infusions, stir fries, curries and soups.
  • Garlic: Hello garlicky-olive oil toast with avocado and eggs, and of course slow cooked meals, soups, dressings or straight up if you’re brave!
  • Citrus fruits: Lemon, lime and grapefruit, are not only taste delicious but are also chockers full of Vitamin C. Aim to include them in your diet through fresh juices, squeezed over salads, in water or enjoy grapefruit as a scrumptious immune boosting snack.
  • Green and herbal tea infusions: Are a fab way to swap another coffee in your day in favour of something that can up the antioxidants in your life as well as warm and hydrate the body all in one hit.

As families prepare to bunker down for an indeterminate amount of time, staying healthy is more important than ever.

3. Embrace fermented foods and drinks:

Foods such as miso and kraut are delicious as part of your meal or sip on a brew of miso soup in between meals. If you’re after something fizzy, kombucha is a fermented tea packed full of live cultures, organic acids and tea polyphenols – my immunity go-to is a Remedy Kombucha Ginger Lemon.

To get your kids to enjoy fermented foods think outside the box! Pickles in a burger, baked potatoes loaded with kimchi and grated cheese or even a kombucha spider made with ice cream are great options to try.

4. Practice rest

Sounds easy but we’re all guilty for not doing this enough (especially us parents). Stop chasing the clock, overcommitting, having a list a mile long, juggling work and family and all sorts of other ‘must do’s’ in our day as this creates stress in the body.

Stress weakens the immune system, increasing our risk of falling sick once exposed to bacteria or viruses lurking about. A simple practice for reducing stress in our body is to address it with rest. By rest, yes of course, aim for quality sleep and healthy sleep habits but also aim to allocate anywhere between 5-15 minutes each day to ‘practice rest’, the rest where you let your body take time out and don’t actually sleep, but practice the gentle art of switching off – guilt free.

Everything will be waiting for you when you finish resting, don’t worry, it’s not going anywhere, but your good health won’t be unless you alter your lifestyle. Pop your legs up the wall, move into child’s pose, lie flat on the ground at the end of the day and incorporate deep belly breaths, meditate, whatever feels right for you, but make the practice of rest a part of your day.

Kombucha is a fermented tea packed full of live cultures, organic acids and tea polyphenols which are great for immunity.

5. Increase your zinc

Zinc is an absolute powerhouse nutrient playing a role in hundreds of enzyme and biochemical pathways in our body, including those which pump up our immune system. Zinc rich foods are abundant and easily incorporated into the diet, so whilst you’re making your shopping list of immune boosting ingredients to add to your cooking repertoire, choose a selection of these zinc winners too – legumes, seeds, nuts, dairy such as full fat natural yoghurt, wholegrains, eggs, shellfish and red meat if that’s for you.

6. Aim for plant diversity in the diet

Try to increase the variety and number of plants in your diet each week or each fortnight even if just by one. Building a diet rich in plant foods and diverse in its sources can lead to greater diversity in the gut microbiome, which is critical to the strength of your immune system.

In nutrition, we always say – everything begins in the gut, so we need to give it the most love we can through our food. Whether it’s each week buying one extra plant-based ingredient, even a new herb is great, or each fortnight, make it your mission to create as much variety in your diet through plants as you can.

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