Chances are that there are several foods you are eating plenty more of than you usually would in lockdown — chocolate, bread, pasta and ice-cream are a few of the foods that spring to mind.
And while many of us are getting through the long days at home with a few more treats, the truth is that there are several foods likely to benefit our health and our mood whilst we are under serious stress that we should be eating a whole lot more of.
So before you reach for another treat, it may be worth checking if you are getting enough of these nutrient rich foods that’ll help to optimise both your mood and immune function.
All fish is good for us, but it is the deep sea oily fish including salmon, sardines, mackerel and fresh tuna that offer the long chain, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, which are closely associated with heart health and good mood.
While grabbing tinned tuna is a quick and easy option, keep in mind that tinned tuna is relatively low in fat, which means you actually need the fresh fish to obtain a dose of omega 3 fats. In fact, a single serve of omega-3-rich fish such as salmon (including canned), sardines and mackerel will give you your entire recommended intake of these powerful fats, so adding them into your lockdown routine at least 2-3 times a week will help to optimise your intake.
Whether you have decided to return to making your own sourdough, or enjoy a trip to your local artisan baker, there are numerous health benefits associated with both rye as a wholegrain and sourdough bread.
Not only is rye a source of prebiotic fibre, which is especially good to help nourish the gut, but true sourdough bread is more easily digested than regular bread, has a lower GI or is digested more slowly, and the nutrients in wholegrain sourdough are more easily absorbed than regular bread.
At a time when many of us are not getting the dietary fibre we need for optimal gut health, adding a slice or two of wholegrain sourdough into your daily diet makes perfect sense.
Green, leafy veggies including broccoli, spinach, kale, Brussel sprouts as well as beans, peas and asparagus are rich sources of the B group vitamin folate.
It has been shown that individuals who are more likely to suffer from mood disorders including depression have lower blood levels of folate, suggesting that there may be a link between this vitamin and our overall mood state.
With very few Aussies getting the minimum of three cups of veggies each day, many of us will benefit from including more veggies, and specifically greens, in our diet each day. Think sautéed spinach or asparagus with your breakfast eggs, a big salad at lunch and some sautéed greens with your evening meal to significantly boost your intake of this important vitamin.
Not only is shellfish such as prawns, oysters, mussels and crab a rich source of iodine, which is crucial for thyroid and metabolic function, but shellfish is also a rich natural source of zinc — a nutrient that plays a key role in immune function.
With shellfish at relatively low prices at the moment, it is a perfect time to include these nutrient-rich proteins a little more in your weekly meal plan. Think a light lunch or evening meal of grilled shellfish, prawns or crab meat as a base for pasta dishes, or a hearty mussel pot for a massive boost of zinc.
There are literally hundreds of yoghurts to pick from in supermarkets but like all varieties of food, some are better than others, and nutritionally the yoghurts that stand out are the ones that are a rich source of probiotics.
Yoghurts with live cultures will help to give the gut the nourishment it needs to function at its best, and as we learn more about the gut we become more aware of the powerful role it plays in immune functioning.
Seek out yoghurts that don’t contain added sugars but do contain live cultures and — if you can swing it — also prebiotic fibres.
You can use these yoghurts in smoothies, as a base to brekkie bowls or even in baking, and they are a protein and calcium-rich food to include in your baseline diet daily.
Author Susie Burrell is a leading Australian dietitian and nutritionist, founder of Shape Me, co-host of The Nutrition Couch podcast and prominent media spokesperson, with regular appearances in both print and television media commenting on all areas of diet, weight loss and nutrition.