Suggestions by Registered Dietitian Zhan Otto
With the outbreak of the Coronavirus in South Africa and the approaching flu season, we asked Zhan to give us some advice. Zhan, explains the beneficial effects that your diet has on your immune system and how you can maximize this.
Zhan is a registered dietitian, in private practice for almost 18years, specializing in Medical Nutrition Therapy, and consulting from her rooms at Mediclinic Morningside.
Zhan sees patients in the wards as well as in her rooms, regarding a wide spectrum of nutrition-related, medical concerns such as GIT disorders, Kidney Injury, Diabetes, Fertility, Pregnancy, Pre and Post Surgery, Food Intolerances and Allergies, Rheumatoid conditions, sensible Weight Management, Eating Disorders and Oncology
Despite the complexity of the nutrition – immune function interaction, increasing consensus is being achieved regarding the beneficial effects diet, foods and specific nutrients have on the immune system.
What can you do to maximize your child’s Immune system? Make sure that your child’s antioxidant status is good.
Antioxidants are naturally occurring chemicals (phytochemicals), vitamins, minerals that fight ‘free radical” (unstable molecules that damage cells)
Antioxidants protect because they “give up their own molecules to stabilize or quench the free radical before it does too much damage.”
Interestingly, the antioxidants are actually the natural pigments that give vegetables and fruits their colours! So… a plateful of colourful food will automatically improve your child’s immune system.
At least 5x or more portions per day are advised.
Portion sizes need to be adjusted according to factors such as your child’s age, weight, and physical activity.
Examples of some Great Antioxidants / Phytochemicals in Foods
|Name of Nutrient:||Examples of Food Sources:|
|Vitamin C is the master immune-boosting nutrient||guavas; oranges, naartjies, kiwi, broccoli, peppers|
|Beta – carotene||strawberries, papaya, cherries, grapes, raspberries, blueberries|
|Organosulfuric compounds||onions, leeks, chives, spring onions, garlic, cabbage|
|Omega-3 fatty acids||sardines, pilchards, tuna, salmon|
|Lycopene||tomatoes, fresh and cooked, pink grapefruit, watermelon|
|Lutein / Zeaxanthin||spinach, avocado, asparagus, turnip greens|
|Sulphoraphanes / Indoles||spinach, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, turnips|
|Vit E||sunflower seeds, wheat germ, almonds, hazelnuts, peanutbutter, avocado|
|Zinc||fish, oysters, lean beef, chicken leg, pork loin, pumpkin seeds, eggs, dried beans|
Information provided by Zhan Otto