The experts from Viva! Health have compiled a simple list of key foods that will help you to stay focused, maintain energy levels and support your immune system whilst in self-isolation.
For most of us, our daily work routine has been somewhat different in recent weeks. Since the government implemented social distancing guidelines earlier this month most places of work have closed, resulting in millions of employees working from home.
This dramatic change in routine has left many of us in a state of shock and confusion, raising important questions like – what do I eat now I can’t go to Pret? Each day, millions of us look to supermarkets, cafes, restaurants and other food providers to supply our insatiable appetite for food on the go. Pre-packaged food often includes useful information such as calories, nutritional content and many healthy foods boast exciting ingredients like superfoods and antioxidants.
As we find ourselves in the midst of a national lockdown and we can’t rely on our favourite outlets for food – how are we going to make sure we eat well at home? The food we eat has a huge impact on how we feel so it is integral that during these challenging times we take care to look after our bodies and fuel them with the right foods.
Viva! are the UK’s leading vegan campaigning charity and their experts from Viva! Health have compiled a simple list of key foods that will help you to stay focused, maintain energy levels and support your immune system whilst in self-isolation. Viva!’s Vegan Recipe Club have created a list of easy, delicious and store cupboard friendly recipes which use these ingredients so you can stay healthy and motivated during lockdown.
Wholegrain carbohydrates and foods rich in fibre play an essential role in keeping your body energised. Here is a short list of some of these foods that can help you achieve this:
- most fruit and vegetables – particularly bananas
- pulses (peas, beans and lentils), nuts and seeds
- wholegrain products including brown rice, oats, quinoa, wholegrain bread and whole wheat pasta
It’s important to note that in this feature we’re focusing on foods that are slow energy releasing as they keep us fuller and maintain energy levels for longer. There are many quick energy-releasing foods such as dates, refined cereals and potatoes – click here to find out more.
Low serotonin levels can lead to trouble concentrating, remembering things and even feelings of anxiety and lack of motivation. Serotonin is made from the amino acid tryptophan, which we cannot make so must obtain it from our diet. Consumption of certain foods allows us to manufacture more serotonin which can boost concentration – some of the best foods for this are:
- nuts (cashews, walnuts, almonds and pistachios)
- seeds (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower and chia)
- soya beans (edamame)
- tofu and tempeh
- pulses (peas, beans and lentils)
- oats and wheat germ
- bananas, spinach and other leafy greens
Here are some of the most potent foods for supporting your immune system. They are inexpensive, widely available foods and can be enjoyed by everyone. They won’t make you virus-proof but the more robust your immunity is, the better your chance of either avoiding the infection or fighting it with only mild symptoms.
- Garlic Love it or hate it, garlic has superpowers when it comes your immune system. Research shows it stimulates and activates your white blood cells – immune system soldiers – supercharging their powers (Arreola, 2015)
- Fruit and Vegetables Bursting with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy carbs, fruit and vegetables are truly irreplaceable. Frozen fruit and veg are also very nutritious and often cheaper than fresh. Be sure to include green leafy vegetables, citrus fruit and berries – those have the most antioxidants
- Ginger and turmeric Both from the same family, ginger and turmeric contain several potent biochemicals which are very strong antioxidants. They also have antimicrobial properties, helping to fight infection (Grzanna et al., 2005; Kunnumakkara et al., 2017)
- Vitamin D Often overlooked, vitamin D plays an important role in our immune system and can help protect us from infection
- Zinc it up Zinc is a mineral we all need but don’t always get enough. It is crucial for a healthy immune system so make sure these foods make an appearance on your daily menu – pumpkin seeds, lentils, tofu, tempeh, whole wheat pasta or wheat germ
Overwhelmed by all of this information? We thought you might be. Here are the Vegan Recipe Club’s top recipes incorporating all of these incredibly beneficial ingredients so you can easily stay healthy and focused in self-isolation.
- Get your day off to a smashing start with this recipe packed full of protein and slow-releasing carbs www.veganrecipeclub.org.uk/recipes/smoky-baked-beans
- A very quick, healthy and hearty breakfast which can be made the night before. The yummy oats provide slow-releasing energy and are good for encouraging serotonin production
- Tofu packs a protein punch and this easy recipe will keep you full all morning www.veganrecipeclub.org.uk/recipes/super-fast-scrambled-tofu
- Try this smoothie to de-frazzle your brain after a morning full of virtual meetings www.veganrecipeclub.org.uk/recipes/concentration-smoothie
- Swap shop-bought sugary snacks packed with refined sugar for these delicious wholefood treats https://www.veganrecipeclub.org.uk/recipes/easy-energy-balls
- Perfect for a work lunch where you’re short of time… bung everything in the jar, add boiling water and you’re good to go. Add some garlic, ginger and seeds for an extra health-boost! www.veganrecipeclub.org.uk/recipes/vegan-diy-healthy-pot-noodle
- A simple healthy recipe and perfect for when you’re short of time. Brimming with the benefits of immunity-boosting garlic and superfood tahini packed with calcium www.veganrecipeclub.org.uk/recipes/toast-all-good-stuff
- Bring the taste of the exotic to your table with this fragrant and super healthy soup. Perfect for supporting your immune system with lots of fresh ginger www.veganrecipeclub.org.uk/recipes/homemade-instant-thai-soup
- Wholemeal rolls and kidney beans make this speedy recipe a filling and nutritious dinner option www.veganrecipeclub.org.uk/recipes/fast-healthy-burgers
- Missing that delicious katsu curry from a certain high-street restaurant chain? Get your katsu fix right here – packed with nutritious tofu you’ll be full until breakfast
- OK so this one isn’t packed with superfoods but it is way healthier than the traditional dairy version. Add spinach, broccoli and use whole wheat pasta for a super healthy option https://www.veganrecipeclub.org.uk/recipes/quick-healthy-vegan-mac-n-cheese
- Satisfy your sweet tooth with this deceptively healthy 5-minute dessert www.veganrecipeclub.org.uk/recipes/fruity-froyo
- Save your hard-earned cash by making your own healthy vegan ice-cream. It’s one of your five a day and also contains super healthy nuts www.veganrecipeclub.org.uk/recipes/super-fast-healthy-ice-cream
With this amazing range of recipes, it can be fun and easy to incorporate super healthy and deeply nutritious ingredients into every meal. So why not make the most of your time at home and get in the kitchen, pop the radio on and get cooking!
Arreola R, Quintero-Fabián S, López-Roa RI, et al. 2015. Immunomodulation and anti-inflammatory effects of garlic compounds. Journal of Immunology Research. 2015:401630.
Grzanna R, Lindmark L, Frondoza CG. 2005. Ginger – an herbal medicinal product with broad anti-inflammatory actions. Journal of Medicinal Food. 8 (2) 125–132.
Kunnumakkara AB, Bordoloi D, Padmavathi G, et al. 2017. Curcumin, the golden nutraceutical: multitargeting for multiple chronic diseases. British Journal of Pharmacology. 174 (11) 1325–1348.