Healthy Diet: Food to strengthen our immune system

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Professor Nathan Clumeck says taking care of your health improves your immune system and vice versa, via a healthy diet.

Health and immunity Professor Nathan Clumeck, professor emeritus of infectious diseases at ULB, takes the time to explain to us in detail what we need to know about viruses and immunity. “The idea of boosting immunity is appealing, but the possibility of actually achieving that is difficult,” he remarks. “Nevertheless, multiple studies have been able to demonstrate a correlation between a healthy lifestyle and optimal immunity. This results in a significant decrease in infectious events, inflammatory diseases or cancer.”

Such a lifestyle consists of having a healthy diet, not consuming tobacco and drinking alcohol in moderation, participating in regular physical activity, maintaining an ideal body weight and getting enough sleep. To these recommendations we can add simple actions such as washing your hands and vaccinating, actions that prepare the immune system against a series of particularly virulent and potentially fatal pathogens.

Professor Clumeck concludes: “There are no cures or miracle substitutes to maintaining or strengthening the immune system. This system ultimately depends on a healthy lifestyle.”

The basics of a healthy and balanced diet The Superior Health Council in Belgium (CSS) provides five recommendations adults should prioritize:
1) Eat at least 125g of wholegrain food every day, favouring, for example, wholegrain bread over white bread, wholegrain pasta over white pasta, etc.
2) Eat 250g of fresh fruit (two pieces of fruit) per day and at least 300g of vegetables (raw or prepared). Vary your choices of fruits and vegetables and let yourself be guided by the seasonal and local offer.
3) Eat legumes every week. Replace meat with legumes at least once a week. As an added benefit, the cultivation and production of pulses has a low impact on the climate.
4) Eat 15 to 25g of nuts or seeds without salty or sweet coating every day; one handful is approximately 30g. It is important to choose products rich in omega-3 fatty acids (such as walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds).
5) Choose products low in salt and avoid adding salt when preparing or having your meals. Aromatic herbs and unsalted spices are tasty alternatives!

In addition to the contents of your plate, the CSS also makes an unexpected recommendation: it encourages people to eat together as much as possible, so that meals become a pleasant experience shared with others. When speaking about a social activity, we usually talk about consuming alcohol. But this little pleasure, rooted in festive customs, has featured for a long time at the top on the list of foods with negative impact on one’s health.

The recommendation is to limit ourselves to “moderate” consumption, meaning no more than 10 “standard” drinks per week. Yet ideally we should not consume it at all. Food deficiencies Monica Schettino, Aspria nutrition advisor, explains: “In a perfect world, adopting a balanced and natural diet, emphasizing fruits and vegetables and banning processed products, should be enough to guarantee we absorb all the micronutrients and macronutrients that our body needs.

“However, our environment and our hectic lifestyle inevitably lead to nutritional deficiencies. The most common deficiencies are in magnesium, vitamin D and iron, not to mention vitamin C, zinc and B vitamins.”

In the event of certain deficiencies in essential vitamins or trace elements, supplements may be taken and will be useful – bearing in mind however that their intake must be monitored medically.

A question of balance
Given its vision to enable living life well, Aspria isn’t just about fitness. Our clubs are spaces dedicated to health and wellbeing, catering to all ages. In these uncertain times, we realize more than ever that health is essential and that being in good shape is an extraordinary asset. This health crisis shows that taking care of yourself is essential and this is what Aspria encourages everyone to do on a daily basis. Regular and moderate physical activity, a varied and balanced diet, good quality sleep and consistent stress management require some discipline, but they should not necessarily become a chore. The key to turning them into daily habits is having an enjoyable time doing it. And every Aspria expert is there to encourage members in this process.

Do you want to learn more about immunity and sport? Which sports you should consider and how often you should exercise? Go to www. aspria.com/fr/ immunity/ Do you also want to take care of your health and strengthen your immune system? Take advantage of our 90-day satisfaction guarantee *.
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