An once-in-a-lifetime pandemic brings unique challenges – here’s how what you eat makes a difference.

When was the last time you completely reimagined your diet?  For most of us, going all-out vegan, or jumping on the low-carb-high-fat bandwagon are major and even life-defining changes.  This is because when, how and what you eat are an ingrained part of your daily life, developed over years without much thought.  Your diet is a routine.

A crisis can change everything.  All of a sudden, you’re focused on a virus that is spreading rapidly across the world.  As a soldier on the front line of the fight against coronavirus disease, this is to be expected – for the sake of your own health, and that of your patients and families, you must remain vigilant to guard against infection.

But your diet can help with that and no, we’re not talking about dramatic changes.  In a time where heightened stress is a part of our daily lives, it is essential to support and protect your body.  Stress wreaks havoc on the body and your immune system – and the food that we eat affects not only our physical but mental health as well.

When a health crisis hits, time is a precious resource that cannot be wasted.  Cooking at home might feel like an indulgence at a time like this, but it isn’t – giving your body the fuel it needs will boost your work performance, keep you and your patients safe, and lift your mood, empowering you to tackle each day with a renewed sense of optimism.

Making healthy dietary choices can be challenging especially if you are part of a healthcare team working under extreme pressure but junk food is not the answer.  Not only does it lack the nutrients you need to maintain a healthy body it is also high in refined carbohydrates, simple sugars, and saturated and trans fats, which promote inflammation – it will leave you feeling sluggish, fatigued, weak and unable to concentrate.”

Sudden, sharp fluctuations in blood sugar affect the brain, too.  Not only that, but the oxidative stress and inflammation that these foods promote also puts strain on digestion, gut health and immune function, to name a few.  This can lead to problems such as mood disorders, headaches, anxiety, reduced decision-making ability, and work productivity, increased risk for depression, stress, and irritability.

A poor diet can leave you at greater risk of infection, according to the experts.  The immune system is the body’s natural defence system against foreign invaders.  A healthy balanced diet is essential in maintaining a healthy immune system.  Nutrition plays a key role in this – it can either feed disease or fight it.

It is recommended you stay away from sugar, refined carbohydrates, saturated and trans fats, and instead, construct a diet containing optimal quantities of a variety of nutrient-dense foods.  Lean protein, unrefined whole carbohydrates, healthy fats, fruit, vegetables, and water are important for protection against disease and providing sustained energy and minimising inflammation.