Global Health Asia-Pacific March 2022 March 2022 - Page 55

Dietary strategies to strengthen immunity

In this article , Senior Dietitian Chloe Ong explains how adopting appropriate dietary strategies can go a long way in strengthening our immunity .

When thinking of a healthy , balanced diet , one might wonder : is there such a thing as ‘ good ’ or ‘ bad ’ food ? The answer is no , shares Chloe Ong , Senior Dietitian at Parkway Cancer Centre .

According to her , a balanced diet includes adequate carbohydrates , proteins , fats , fiber , and also the different types of vitamins , minerals and trace elements .
“ We need to have a healthy , balanced diet in order for our body to perform its necessary functions ,” Chloe explained . “ Only when we get the basics right , can we reap the ‘ additional ’ benefits of certain foods , such as vitamins and minerals , pre- and probiotics , and phytonutrients . In other words , it is important for individuals to include a variety of food in our diet .”
How nutrients support our immune system Nutrients are essential in supporting our body ’ s necessary functions , which in turn help maintain a functional immune system . According to Chloe , different nutrients have different roles in our body though some may share similar roles :
• Carbohydrates - these are the main source of energy for our body to perform daily activities
• Protein - plays important roles in hormone and enzyme production for many of our body ’ s functions
• Fat – provides energy and ‘ protects ’ our vital organs . Some fat soluble vitamins also need fat to be absorbed for our body ’ s use
• Fiber – keeps our gut healthy , so that nutrients can be better digested and absorbed
How to lead a healthy lifestyle Like diet , there are a multitude of different aspects that need to be considered in order for individuals to lead a healthy lifestyle , and thus achieve a healthy immune system .
“ Other than having a healthy , balanced diet , physical activities are equally important as well ,” advised Chloe . “ Try to get 30-60 minutes of exercise 5 times a week . Otherwise , find opportunities to increase everyday physical activities , such as taking the staircase instead of the lift .
“ Stress management is also important for improving our immunity levels .”
It is not always reasonable to expect to keep up a healthy lifestyle routine everyday , particularly when we do not feel energetic , or feel under the weather . For days like that , Chloe recommends light or soupy food that contains some protein ( e . g ., chicken noodle soup , fish porridge , or egg mayo or tuna sandwich ). She also advised to avoid deep fried and spicy food and to stay hydrated .
“ Plain water is always the best for hydration ,” explained Chloe . “ If one wants to include other drinks like honey lemon or barley , that would be fine as well , as long as you keep tabs on the total sugar intake in a day .
“ Last but not least , getting adequate rest and sleep on a daily basis can go a long way in helping you manage your overall health .”
This article was provided by the Parkway Cancer Centre in Singapore .
“ Stress management is also important for improving our immunity levels .”
“ A healthy balanced nutrition is the most basic tool to boost our immune system , as different nutrients play different roles in our body ,” Chloe emphasised .
GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com MARCH 2022