How to Support Your Nutrition During COVID-19 Self-Isolation
In their guest blog, the team at hero have put together their top tips to support your health during this challenging time. Here are their recommendations when it comes to nutrition!
Vitamin D plays a vital role in human health. The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors. Food sources include oily fish (salmon and mackerel), red meat, egg yolks and fortified foods such as cereal, fat spreads, soy/almond milk.
Low levels of vitamin D can dramatically impact a person’s physical and mental wellbeing. As we age, the risk of vitamin D deficiency significantly increases, due to less time spent outdoors and reduced nutritional intake.
hero Head of Content & Education Samantha Gaunt says, “Vitamin D’s primary role is to help the body absorb calcium and phosphorous from food to help maintain healthy bones. The implications of vitamin D deficiency on the immune system have also become clearer in recent years, suggesting vitamin D is also key to reducing the risk of developing an infection. ”
As many of you know, the COVID-19 illness may force people to spend more time indoors which subsequently reduces the opportunity to make enough vitamin D in their skin from direct light exposure. Studies have also confirmed a link between low levels of vitamin D and mental ill-health. Therefore it is important we consciously maintain our vitamin D status through diet, sunlight exposure where possible and potentially introducing supplementation to those who need it most. The NHS recommends a 10 micrograms supplementation per day is enough to maintain a healthy vitamin D status, supporting not only our immunity but also our overall physical and mental wellbeing.
To boost your vitamin D intake, consider incorporating these foods into your diet:
Oily Fish (salmon, mackerel)
Fortified foods like cereals, soy milk, almond milk and spreads
Recipe Recommendation: Salmon Noodle Salad
A feast for the eyes & taste buds, this delicious salad provides a deliciously balanced meal, packed full of health. The noodles provide fuel & the salmon is full of protein, in addition to vitamin D and omega-3 fats, which are great for brain & heart health. The carrot is a good source of vitamin A, which is good for eye health. The spinach & peppers provide vitamin C to support a healthy immune system. The sesame seeds and a great texture, flavour & boost fibre & good fats.
1 Salmon Fillet
1/2 Nest Wholewheat Noodles
1/5 Small Cucumber
1/4 Red Pepper
2 Spring Onions
1 Cup Salad Leaves or Spinach
1 Tsp Sesame Oil
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
Pinch Black Pepper
2 Tsp Sesame Seeds
2 Sprigs Coriander
Lay the salmon onto a lined baking tray and cook for 12 minutes at 200degC
Boil the noodles for 7 minutes, then drain
Add the sesame oil to the noodles, then stir well
Use a vegetable peeler to form ribbons from the outside of the cucumber, then dice the rest, then chop the spring onion
Dice the red pepper and slice the carrot into small matchsticks
Use a fork to flake the salmon, then add to the salad.Sprinkle the sesame seeds over,squeeze the juice of 1/4 lime over the salad and scatter coriander leaves on top. Drizzle over the soy sauce and sprinkle on the black pepper. Garnish with the remaining lime wedge.
Maintaining a healthy gut contributes to better overall health and immune function. Reducing stress levels, and ensuring we are adopting the appropriate lifestyle and dietary changes, we can positively alter our gut environment. It is important to note that our gut health can also be linked to our mood, with 90% of Serotonin (happy hormone) receptors located in the gut.
Gut health hacks include:
Eating a fibre-rich diet, including whole grains and vegetables
Drink plenty of fluid to encourage the passage of waste
Avoid sugar which causes a microbiome imbalance
Recipe Recommendation: Power Pancakes
If you’re still looking to satisfy your sweet tooth but with more nutritional value, how about trying our nutritionist Dr Tom Little’s favourite breakfast. These power pancakes are such a tasty treat and provide a great balanced breakfast with only moderate calories. The oat base rather than flour means these pancakes have more fibre & keep blood sugars more stable. Blueberries add delicious flavour and are have one of the highest ORAC rankings (anti-oxidant levels). The banana is a good source of potassium, important for nerve function.
1 cup Large flake oats
1 Chopped banana
1 scoop Vanilla protein or vegan alternative
1 tbsp Olive oil (to cook)
2 scoops Greek yoghurt or vegan alternative
A handful of Fresh berries (optional)
Add the banana, protein powder and egg to a blender and blend until smooth
Heat oil in a pan until hot
Add small ‘disks’ of pancake mix to a hot pan
Cook for 1-2 mins on each side
Stack your pancakes and add Greek yoghurt and berries to serve
Water makes up two-thirds of our body. Staying optimally hydrated is key to maintaining our overall health from a cellular level, aiding the transportation of nutrients and oxygen around the body, ridding of waste products and toxins, controlling our body temperature and assisting the digestive process.
Healthy cells equal happy tissues, happy organs and happy systems, enabling our body to thrive under external pressures. Proper hydration boosts our immune system, supporting it to fight off foreign invaders and remove all harmful bacteria. Our kidneys are able to ‘flush’ out toxins, our lymph system is ready to capture and destroy bacteria, and our brain function is optimised. hero Head of Content & Education Samantha says, “In the brain, hydration facilitates the production of Melatonin, the main hormone involved in our sleep-wake cycle, which in turn supports healthy sleeping patterns. Healthy sleeping patterns help strengthen our immune system, and the list goes on.”
The amount of fluid required for an individual is dependent on many different factors, including climate, age, physical activity rating. The Eatwell Guide suggests drinking between 6-8 glasses of fluid per day. Eating water-rich foods can also contribute up to 20% of our hydration status, which includes plenty of fruit and vegetables!
Signs of dehydration are visible in your urine. Dark and strong-smelling urine is a clear sign that you need to drink more fluids.
Use the above NHS urine colour chart to check for signs of dehydration. Healthy pee is 1-3, 4-8 must hydrate.