Eat well to boost your immune system

Ayesha Seedat, a dietitian, said she has a passion to educate the public about healthy food choices.

As we enter day 13 of the 21-day national lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, a registered dietitian from Wynberg told Southern Mail how we can eat well to maintain a well-functioning immune system while also buying long-lasting produce to save money and make fewer trips to the shop.

Ayesha Seedat recommends a variety of foods, consumed in moderation on a daily basis, as well as exercising regularly, getting adequate rest, avoiding smoking and drinking plenty of water to stay healthy.

“Variety is the spice of life. There isn’t one particular food group that will boost your immunity – aim to consume a variety of foods from the different food groups daily.”

On her list are whole-grains such as brown and wholewheat bread, brown rice, wholewheat cereals and pasta; fruit and vegetables – all kinds, the more variety the better; lean proteins such as skinless chicken, turkey, ostrich, fish, lean beef, lean dairy like low-fat yoghurt, milk and lower fat cheeses and plant proteins such as beans, peas and lentils; and healthy fats from nuts and seeds, nut spreads like peanut butter and almond butter, avocado, vegetable oils like olive, sunflower and canola oil and soft tub margarines.

“Meals or snacks that contain plenty of fruit or veg can help one maintain or boost their immune system. So, it is advisable to enjoy things like fruit salads, fruit/veg smoothies, veggies on toast, fruit with cereal, etc.”

Ms Seedat said long lasting produce such as frozen vegetables and grains can save money and enable you to make fewer trips to the shop during the lockdown.

“Soups and stews with vegetables make a wholesome and healthy meal. Adding vegetables, lentils or beans to meals can stretch the meal. For example, add lentils or frozen peas to a rice dish or chunky vegetables to soup. Using frozen vegetables is just as healthy, and more convenient, as fresh produce and last longer so stocking up on these will also require you to shop less.”

Ms Seedat said she chose to become a dietitian as she had always had a keen interest in the field of science and nutrition. “Educating the public about healthy food choices is one of my passions.

“This has also become important and necessary as our country is burdened with the rising incidence of chronic lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity,” said Ms Seedat.

Meanwhile, people the world over have been urged to distance themselves from others to prevent the spread of the deadly Covid-19.

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), reported illnesses have ranged from infected people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.

Symptoms reported have included mild to severe respiratory illness with a cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or fever.

There is no vaccine for the virus and everyone has been advised to wash or sanitise their hands regularly and practise social distancing to prevent infection.

The overwhelming message has been for people to stay at home.

Tens of thousands of people have already died from Covid-19 across the world and many countries, including the United States and of America, are struggling to contain it.

Call the Covid-19 hotline on 0800 029 999 if you have any concerns.