Keeping immune system strong with balanced diet important in protecting against pandemic, says dietetics expert
A “three-quarter” nutrition model should be followed to strengthen immune system during the coronavirus pandemic, a Turkish doctor said.
“In every main meal, one quarter of the plate should consist of vegetables, the other quarter should consist of whole grain products, and the remaining part should consist of three equal segments of fruits, high protein foods and dairy products,” said Leyla Tevfikoglu Pehlivan, a nutrition and dietetics expert at Trakya University in Turkey’s northwestern Edirne province.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Pehlivan said that the Turkey Dietary Guidelines recommend the “healthy dining plate” that should include sufficient amount of vegetables and fruits.
She underlined that hygiene of the individual and physical environment, keeping the immune system strong, adequate and balanced nutrition, regular physical activity and a restful sleep are important in protecting against the pandemic.
Turkey has so far registered nearly 95,600 COVID-19 cases, with its death toll currently at 2,259, according to country’s Health Ministry.
“In order to overcome this difficult period as easily as possible, it is important to choose a diet rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for the balanced nutrition,” Pehlivan said.
The doctor also recommended to use olive oil in daily menu.
Dried legumes source of vegetable protein
Recommending to give priority to vegetables and fruits, Pehlivan said consuming citrus fruits is very much required in everyday nourishment.
“If possible, fresh lemons should be squeezed into salads and dishes. In addition, it is good to keep at home products with longer shelf life which are the source of fiber and minerals, such as dried fruit, dried okra, eggplant, pepper and tomato,” she said.
Pehlivan also said that legumes such as lentil, chickpeas and beans can be consumed daily, noting that legumes, which are a source of vegetable protein, can be stored for a long period and contain important fiber sources.
She went on to say that these items are of great importance for balancing blood sugar in many diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.
Consuming fish at least twice a week is also very healthy since animal protein intake is important for the well-functioning of the immune system, the doctor said, adding that egg and cheese varieties are also among the foods containing high quality animal protein.
The nutrition and dietetics expert also advised to avoid the consumption of foods high in sugar and salt, as well as readymade and processed foods as much as possible.