Most people know that a pink cake, Snicker or chips does not burst with vitamins and the right nutrients. But which foods do contain those oh-so-important nutrients? And how do you ensure that you have enough inside gets?
According to Jaap Seidell, professor of Health and Nutrition at the VU, vegetables, fruits, whole grain cereals and fish are the foods you have to eat if you want to eat healthy. Fish are mainly fatty fish, which is rich in omega 3 fatty acids. “The nutrients in these products reduce the number of substances that cause inflammation. These inflammations mean chronic low-grade inflammation.”
People who are overweight are more likely to get infections because body fat is an anti-inflammatory produces. Seidell therefore recommends losing weight if you are overweight, but especially paying attention to eating healthy foods and maintaining the right lifestyle. “Smoking, alcohol and unhealthy food with a lot of sugar and fats promote low-grade inflammation. Vegetables, fruit, fish, legumes and whole grains help you to inhibit them.”
Vitamin D, zinc and vitamin C are important nutrients to contain infections. According to Seidell, many people are deficient in these substances, while they play such a major role in a good immune system. “Especially in winter we are deficient in vitamin D, because we have little sun exposure. It is estimated that 35% of people have a vitamin D deficiency in summer and as much as 60% in winter.”
People who are at high risk of a serious course in corona, such as the elderly and people with obesity or cardiovascular disease, are also relatively often deficient in vitamin D. Therefore, these people are advised to sit in the sun more often and supplement their vitamin D deficiency with a supplement. “There are several indications that taking a supplement increases resistance. Not only does our body make vitamin D from sunlight, you can also get it from oily fish. There is also some in meat, margarine, butter and other dairy products, “says Seidell.
On average, you should consume about 75 mg of vitamin C per day. Most people in the Netherlands get there. But are the indications that a higher intake (eg 500 mg per day) can be beneficial for our immune system? “Vitamin C is mainly obtained from fruit and vegetables. This is possible with a few pieces of fruit a day, preferably at least two.”
Citrus fruits in particular are rich in vitamin C, but keep in mind that you better eat the fruit whole instead of squeezing it. Vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and broccoli are also packed with vitamin C.
Zinc is mainly found in nuts, legumes, meat and fish. “Ultimately, it comes down to having a varied diet that consists of as few highly processed products as possible,” says Seidell. Heating, cooking, pasteurizing or any other processing causes loss of nutrients. The more a product is processed, the more vitamins it loses.
With a shortage of the above nutrients you become restless and tired. “Get plenty of sunlight by going outside regularly. Eat healthy and plan what you eat. Buy your food from the supermarket, bakery, butcher or greengrocer and cook yourself instead of picking up meals or snacks ready-made. the fries tent is easy, but it doesn’t contain the nutrients you need. “
According to Seidell, we often eat too little fruit and vegetables because we are not used to adding them to every meal. “Often we only take the vegetables from our dinner. We do not have breakfast with vegetables. Our snacks and lunches in most cases consist of bread or other cereals with sausage or cheese as toppings. By planning your vegetables during the day you get a lot faster to your daily recommended amount. Put cucumber, carrot or tomatoes on the table as a snack. Then you are less likely to reach for the cookie jar. “
Seidell wants to emphasize that increasing your resistance can not only be obtained from food, but that this is based on your total lifestyle: getting enough sleep and coping well with stress. Exercise regularly – preferably outside, no smoking and drinking as little alcohol as possible. “You never completely prevent diseases such as corona, but the chance that you will recover faster is greater. In some hospitals, people with COVID-19 are now also being given extra vitamin D, zinc or vitamin C in experiments, with the hope that they will recover faster healed, but that remains to be seen, “said Seidell.