In our second nutrition advice article Professor Nathan Clumeck says taking care of your health improves your immunity and vice versa.
Nutrition advice: 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 whole grain food every day, favouring, for example, whole grain bread over white bread, whole grain 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.