In our guide, we have already reported in the article Healthy nutrition in old age about how important it is for older people in particular to eat a healthy and balanced diet and what peculiarities diet brings with it in old age. In times of Corona there are additional aspects. Certain foods help to strengthen the immune system and help you avoid infections. This can of course also be helpful in the fight against corona infection.
In times of hamster buying and quarantine, you may, like many others, be unsure of what a healthy diet can look like. Is there anything special to consider with the current pandemic? How do I even eat healthy? We would like to give you some answers to your questions in this article.
What you should always pay attention to in a healthy diet
The magic word here is primarily balance. In order to supply the body with all the important nutrients, it is important to keep the balance and aim for a varied diet. To this end, the German Nutrition Society (DGE) has developed a nutrition pyramid that is continuously updated to reflect the current state of science. Here it is clearly shown which foods and in what proportions guarantee a complete diet.
5 times a day
As in many other nutrition models, the vitamin-rich foods fruit and vegetables form the basis. So these foods should make up the bulk of your diet. Perhaps you also know the old adage 5 times a day, according to which everyone should eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day. Thanks to the variety of these dishes, there is usually something for every taste.
Energy supplier carbohydrates
In the next stage, foods rich in carbohydrates such as pasta or rice are recommended. It is important that you give preference to whole grain products here. These products fill you up longer and at the same time contain more nutrients and fiber. Particularly interesting for seniors: the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, colon cancer and cardiovascular diseases is reduced by the dietary fiber.
Protein and fat, also for vegetarians and vegans
Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for the body to perform. This is followed by the macronutrient protein or protein. These are mainly used to build muscle. This is particularly important for older people in order to prevent or reduce muscle wasting. Animal foods such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy products are very good sources of protein. But vegetarians and vegans do not have to do without the important muscle building material either. Protein is also found in tofu, pulses and soy flakes, for example.
Contrary to the popular opinion that fat is basically unhealthy, the so-called good fats contain essential, unsaturated fatty acids such as omega 3 and vitamin E. You can get these mainly through plant-based foods such as oils, avocados and nuts. But fatty fish such as salmon are also suitable.
Enjoyment is also a must
Aside from all of the healthy eating rules, don’t forget to enjoy your meals. Eat slowly and carefully, this promotes enjoyment. The variety of foods allows you to choose exactly what you like. Even less recommended foods such as sweets or other sugar products are safe in small quantities. Ultimately, it is important to keep your balance and eat as varied as possible.
How you can strengthen your immune system with a healthy diet
The best weapon against disease is still a strong and well-functioning immune system, especially now in times of corona. Diet has a fundamental influence on the immune system. If you follow the recommendations and dietary rules mentioned above, you are well prepared. Because a balanced diet is an important lever for an intact immune system.
But there are also foods that are said to have a particularly positive effect on the immune system. Because in addition to the nutrients discussed above, vitamins and minerals also play an important role. We would like to introduce you to some foods rich in vitamins and minerals:
1. Broccoli contains vitamin C and at the same time provides magnesium and potassium. The nutrients are especially retained if you cook it steamed.
2. Citrus fruits are another popular source of vitamin C. Here you can, for example, treat yourself to a fresh orange, the juice of a grapefruit or a little lemon in the tea. The advantage of these types of fruit is that they can simply be eaten raw and so no nutrients are lost during preparation.
3. Ginger is becoming more and more popular in this country. The hot substances in the tuber have an expectorant effect and help fight viruses and other pests in the body. You can prepare ginger as a tea or use it as a spice to refine various dishes.
4. Garlic not only repels vampires but also so-called free radicals. And there really is.
5. Bell peppers provide you with antioxidants that help fight off viruses. The vegetables taste great as raw vegetables, but can also be used in various dishes.
The foods mentioned are of course just a few examples of many possible ways to strengthen your immune system through diet.
Just canned food and dry noodles don’t have to be
Lately, long-life foods such as dry noodles or various canned goods have been bought in German supermarkets. Some people adjusted to being able to survive without shopping for a while. At this point we would like to emphasize once again that the food supply in Germany is guaranteed at all times. Despite everything, it is of course always advisable to have supplies in the house. However, a healthy, balanced diet is difficult with the typical hamster purchases of dry noodles and canned food. With a few tricks you can also preserve healthy food for a long time and do not have to go without a balanced diet in the event of quarantine.
Of course, dried foods have the advantage that they last a very long time. But there are also foods that are dry and healthy at the same time, starting with pasta. As already mentioned in the first paragraph, in the whole grain variant these are a complete component of a healthy meal. But you can also buy valuable pulses such as beans, lentils or chickpeas in a dried state or as canned food and process them very easily. Other healthy foods that you can always buy dry are nuts, oatmeal, kernels, and seeds.
Even canned food doesn’t have to be bad per se. A good example of this is tuna, which provides the valuable omega 3 fatty acids, protein, iodine, zinc and vitamin D, which it does not lose even in a can. Make sure, however, that nothing unhealthy such as sugar or preservatives has been added to the fish in the can.
How to make fresh food last longer.
If you have a freezer at home, you can use it to store fresh food for a long time. You can freeze many fresh vegetables or buy them already flash frozen. Vegetables such as zucchini, peppers, herbs or mushrooms can be frozen raw and keep for six to ten weeks. To do this, you should clean the vegetables, cut them into small portions and pack them airtight. Varieties such as beans, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots should be blanched before freezing and soaked in ice water. This is how the named foods keep their consistency and vitamins.
In addition to vegetables, you can also make fruit last longer. Many types of fruit can be bought dried in the supermarket. The offer ranges from local fruits like apples to exotic fruits like dates or pineapples. Due to the withdrawal of water, the fruits even contain an increased concentration of antioxidants and vitamins. However, this also increases the fructose content in the fruit, so you should eat dried fruit in moderation. You can even dry your fruit yourself by processing the fruit in your home oven at a temperature of 50 degrees for between 12-24 hours. You should keep the oven door ajar the entire time so that the moisture can escape. Depending on the variety, the fruit must be prepared differently. Berries are distemper and then completely dried. Stone fruit is cut in half after being pitted and apples or pears must be cut into thin slices.
Can food transmit the pathogen?
You can rest assured here. There is currently no evidence that Corona can be transmitted through food. According to the current state of knowledge, neither consumption nor surface contact with food is dangerous.
Nevertheless, you should observe general hygiene rules, such as hand washing, when processing food. Since viruses are sensitive to heat, the already low risk of infection by food when heated or cooked is further reduced.