We all know how important it is to be as environmentally sustainable as possible. Climate experts agree that there must be change at all levels, from our governments, industry leaders and with us as consumers. A simple definition of sustainable is ‘able to be maintained’, can our environment be sustained for our needs, and the needs of future generations. Now you may be wondering why our diet is important. How we eat is a simple way to introduce a low environmental impact, that is respectful of all biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair, and nutritionally adequate.
First, start with increasing your intake of seasonal fruits and vegetables, and plant foods ie beans, lentils, nuts, and meat alternatives such as mycoprotein, in place of animal foods. You do not have to go vegan or remove meat and dairy completely, but reducing overall intake is recommended. Prioritise lower fat and low sugar dairy options, and if you consume plant-based alternatives ensure they are fortified with added calcium and iodine. Consider reducing your fish intake (still aim for 2x oily fish a week), purchasing from marine stewardship council (MSC) sustainable sources. Keep your intake of high fibre grains high as this is beneficial for our health; opt for wholemeal breads, and wholegrain versions of pasta, rice, and cereal. Remember that tinned and frozen fruit and vegetables all contribute to your 5-a-day and can be affordable.
In the, UK 70% of food is wasted in the home, which is harmful because of all the land, water and energy used in its production. Aim to reduce your waste by cooking in bulk and freeze extra portions and use all your leftovers- get creative! These tips can help you adopt a more sustainable eating pattern, beneficial for your health and the health of our planet.
Nutrition for immunity
Due to the pandemic, our interest in nutrition and diet has increased, but so has the confusion and misinformation around this topic. The immune system is a complex network of cells and chemical compounds that defend the body against infections. A variety of nutrients are involved in supporting this process. The main thing to take away from this article is that a healthy and varied diet is the best way to get all essential nutrients that are important for overall wellbeing.
- Vitamin A supports our T cells (white blood cells that help identify pathogens). Good sources include meat and dairy products, and dark green leafy vegetables and orange-coloured fruits and veggies.
- Vitamin B6 and B12 helps produce new immune cells and helps them to communicate. Good sources include poultry, fish, meat, dairy, egg yolk, and fortified breakfast cereals.
- Vitamin C helps immune cells fight pathogens and maintains our skin health. Good sources include citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, green vegetables, peppers, and tomatoes.
- Vitamin D keeps our immune system functioning correctly. We can get it via the sunshine on our skin, egg yolks, milk and dairy products and fortified dairy alternatives and breakfast cereals.
- Copper, Folate, Iron, Selenium and Zinc all help produce new immune cells and maintain their health. Good sources include wholegrain bread, wholegrain breakfast cereal, rice, nuts and seeds, meat, green vegetables, dairy and dried fruit.
It is important to note that you cannot ‘boost’ your immune system with food. Things that support your immune system include following a varied and balanced diet, incorporating movement, controlling stress levels, and making time for resting, sleep and fun, and ensuring hygiene routines are adequate. If concerned, please speak to a registered health professional.