Nutrition & Immunity Challenge – Covid19

Your immune system is always on guard against attacks on your body. Attacks could come in many forms including virus, bacteria or even cancer cells. If your immune system trips up, you could become more vulnerable and even ill. In terms of nutrition, there are many nutrients that are involved with the normal functioning of the immune system. The immune system is sophisticated ‘team’ with many ‘players’ involved. The best performance in defending your body happens when all ‘players are present’ and ready to do their job. That is why health experts recommend to promote your own immunity follow an overall healthy eating plan.

With Covid19 there seem to be a lot of questions about nutrition and immunity so here is a closer look at the basics.

  • No diet, supplement will cure or prevent disease. Good hygiene practice and physical distancing remain the best means of avoiding COVID19 infection.
  • Almost all nutrients help the immune system in one way or another; however some nutrient deficiencies may be more harmful to immunity than others. Malnutrition and deficient intakes of many vitamins and minerals are associated with lower disease resistance. Among the nutrients well recognized for their roles in building immunity are Protein, Zinc, Vitamins A, C and E. Below we profile these nutrients of interest that support general immunity but emphasize the bottom line:  Eat a variety of healthy foods each day in order to support immune function.

Protein:

Protein helps build and repair body tissues and forms antibodies. Antibodies are protective proteins produced by the immune system to fight foreign substances in the body.

Eat protein foods at each meal. Recommendations for most adults are to aim for 20-30 grams of protein at every meal. Examples of protein rich foods include fish, shellfish, poultry, lean meat, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), tofu (edamame), eggs, nuts, seeds, greek yogurt and cottage cheese.

Vitamins and Minerals:

All vitamins and minerals promote good health and many protect against infection and diseases. Research suggests that certain vitamins and minerals may have bigger roles in immune health. Examples include Zinc, Vitamins A, C, E. For most people, however, there is no good evidence that taking more of these nutrients than what you can get from a varied healthy diet will improve your immune system. For reference, here is some information about vitamins/minerals of interest for immune health.

    • Zinc:
      A wide variety of foods contain zinc. By far, oysters have more zinc per serving than any other food. More good sources of zinc are lean meats, fish or poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, cereals (fortified) and dairy products
    • Vitamin A:
      Vitamin A is naturally present in many foods and most people get enough Vitamin A from the foods they eat. The most active form is retinol, a fat soluble vitamin found in animal foods such as meat, poultry, fish and dairy products. Beta carotene which converts to vitamin A in the body is found in yellow, orange and dark green vegetables and fruits.
    • Vitamin C:
      Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid is found in fruits and vegetables. Among its many other roles, Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant that helps protect cells against damage. You can get recommended amounts of vitamin C by eating a variety of foods including citrus fruits (such as oranges and grapefruit). Red and green peppers and kiwifruit also have a lot of vitamin C as do other fruits and vegetables.
    • Vitamin E:
      Vitamin E is found in many foods. In the body, it acts as an antioxidant that helps protect the tissues from damage. Rich sources of Vitamin E include vegetable oils (wheat germ, sunflower, safflower), nuts (peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds), seeds (sunflower), fortified cereals.

Watch my one minute VIDEO summary and tips on the immunity challenge here:

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Sources:

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) 2020 Health Information Facts
  • Health Canada (2019) Nutrient Function Claims
  • Duyff Academy of Food and Nutrition (2017) Complete Food & Nutrition Guide
  • Sizer et al (2017) Nutrition Concepts and Controversies

Be Well! Navigating the grocery aisles efficiently during COVID19

Getting in and out of a grocery store fast is more important than ever during the COVID19 pandemic. Health experts ask us to stay at home as much as possible which means limiting the number of shopping trips to a minimum. Once you arrive at the grocery store keeping a safe 6 foot distance from others is a new skill for many people including myself. It’s also important to navigate the aisles efficiently. Somehow it doesn’t seem OK any more to forget something and have to run back through the store to find it.

To help you stay well I created an efficient grocery shopping list. I really like this template because it prompts meal planning so you buy only what you need. I also limited the number of items to make your trip more manageable.   You’ll notice the list is organized in categories that follow the grocery store layout to help you get in and out of the store fast.

Here is how you can use it:

  1. Create a meal plan.
    Before going to the grocery store consider the meals you’d like to make in the upcoming week. Make a note of the most important items you need in case your trip is stressful and you don’t get through your whole shopping list.
  2. Complete your efficient grocery shopping list *
    Print out a copy of the Be Well! Efficient grocery shopping list and keep it in your kitchen. You can ask others you live with to help complete the list so everyone contributes to the eating plan. When the list gets full, you’ll know it’s time to go shopping.
  3. Navigate the aisles efficiently
    When you arrive at the store pick the aisles with the least number of people and keep your physical distance 6 feet from others. Make your way through the store quickly and efficiently. Because your shopping list is short you won’t need a pen to check off the list.

Keep well and good luck grocery shopping!

* Print off your copy of the shopping list by clicking on this link and then the image. Be Well! Efficient Grocery Shopping List by L.Weiler RD

Watch my one minute VIDEO summary and tips on efficient grocery shopping here:

Top tips to look your best for video calls

Have you been using video calls for everything these days?  It’s a challenging transition for some people and an exponential learning curve for others.  So if you’re unsure how to set yourself up for video call success you’re not alone!  What I’ve learned from years of working online is that it takes time to discover what best suits each team and situation.  For example, this week my Entrepreneurship class students successfully conducted mock interviews online, I joined virtual team meetings with flair and shared engaging presentations with colleagues.  Each video call had different challenges and this is becoming the new normal.  After reflecting with others about their recent video call learning journey I discovered some easy tips that can help any video caller look and feel their best.  Here are my top tips to support your online video calls.

  1. Elevate your camera
    Do you notice when people are looking ‘down’ at you from their laptops and as you watch them you can almost see up their noses? Or do you sometimes see a ceiling while the other person is only in partial view?  These are common problems when people have their devices sitting on a table or in their lap during a video call.
    TIP: Elevate your computer or phone camera to your eye level.  Use a stack of books like I did in the image above. (You can spy some of my favourite cookbooks in the pile under the laptop). A shoe box or other sturdy cardboard can also help raise your computer or phone so you’re eye to eye in video conversation.
  2. Make eye contact
    Sometimes it’s hard to know where to look on a video call. You may have documents open and papers on your desk. You may also be looking at yourself to see if all is going well with you on line. However, when you’re speaking it’s important to look up and make eye contact directly with the camera for the best connection with others.
    TIP: Place a sticky note behind your camera to draw your attention to the right place to look at, which is directly at the lens.
  3. Leverage light
    Light makes everyone look good, but it has to come from the right direction. Not from the side, or from the screen’s blue light underneath your face, or from the ceiling above your head.
    TIP:  Sit facing a window and let the daylight brighten your face. You can also place a simple desk lamp behind your computer. Position the lamp right over the lens of your device to limit shadows and cast a soft light on your face.
  4. Eliminate background distractions
    Cluttered backgrounds and movements are all distractions. You may want to check any personal items that are behind you and remove those you don’t want to share in view. If possible don’t have people walking around behind you. If you’re on a mobile device don’t walk around because your background changes distract viewers.
    TIP:  Find as neutral a background as possible and stay there while on a video call.
  5. Smile often
    Do you like to see a happy face? Most people do! So why not draw a happy face icon on the sticky note and place it above your video camera. When you see a smiley face looking at you, you’ll more likely smile back too. Remember to sit back and not get too close to the camera because the lens might distort your face and exaggerate your nose and chin.
    TIP:  Sit back and smile often at the happy face sticker above your camera.

Good luck as you prepare to look your best for video calls! Feel free to share our infographic with tips widely.

Clean and sanitize your kitchen surfaces like a food safety pro during COVID-19

You can protect yourself from COVID-19 by preventing the spread of germs. Although there are not many studies on COVID-19 specifically, scientists suggest that what we know works against other coronaviruses could work against this new strain too. Well known food safety cleaning and sanitizing practices can kill many different kids of harmful germs that cause disease.  Consider these expert tips for cleaning and sanitizing surfaces you use for food handling and preparation to reduce your risk of COVID-19 exposure.

3 Food safety rules to sanitize kitchen surfaces

  1. CLEAN: Remove dirt by washing down surfaces using warm soapy water & rinse with clean water.
  2. SANITIZE: This step reduces the harmful germs to safe levels on surfaces so illness is less likely to occur. Before preparing meals food safety pro’s make sure that counters, cutting boards and work surfaces are sanitized first. Chemicals approved as sanitizes for food-contact surfaces in food-service are chlorine, iodine and quaternary ammonium. Diluted chlorine bleach is a very effective sanitizer that is easy to make at home too. You can make your own sanitizing spray using 1 tsp (5 mL) bleach for every 3 cups (750 mL) of water. (Ministry of Health & LTC Ontario)  This sanitization method works for both plastic and wooden cutting board, taps, sinks and other surfaces. (Note: Bleach is NOT recommended for marble or stone countertops!)
  3. AIR DRY: Let surfaces air dry or dry with a clean disposable paper towel.

 

More tips on cleaning and sanitizing in the kitchen are available at this link: https://extension.colostate.edu/docs/pubs/foodnut/kitchen-sanitize.pdf

Serving food safely during COVID-19

Since COVID19 arrived, you already know about the importance of hand washing. This is a great first step in handling food safely. Remember to use the WHO method to wash your hands every time before touching food or setting the table.

When it comes to serving food safely there are some additional simple steps you can take to help you keep germs at bay. For example, don’t let your fingers touch the surfaces of of dishes or utensils that come into contact with mouths or food. Here are some examples and tips to help you build your healthy habits and serve food safely during COVID-19 and beyond.

  1. Don’t put your thumb on top of a plate to hold it.
    Hold plates underneath with your thumb on the rim.
  2. Don’t touch the inside or lip of a cup.
    Use the cup handle instead
  3. Don’t let others touch the lid of your beverage container that comes in contact with your mouth!
    Ask the cup to be handed to you and place the lid on yourself.
    If others bring you a lidded cup consider removing it before you drink it.
    Pour canned or bottled beverages into a clean cup instead of bringing the can or bottle to your lips.
  4. Keep your hands off  the bowl of a spoon or prongs of a fork.
    Grip utensils by the handle and don’t let handles touch the food.
  5. Don’t share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils.
    Wash your dishes well in hot soapy water after each use.

Keep well and remember it is important to get information from credible, trustworthy sources during this time. Dietitians are regulated health professionals committed to providing evidence-based advice and information that is tailored to your personal needs and challenges. For the latest and most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit Health Canada at www.canada.ca/coronavirus