To support the preparations for Coronavirus (COVID-19), we have made changes to the services we provide
Nutrition and Immunity
Immunity is currently a hot topic: can we help boost our immune system through our every day diet? And if we can, how can we do this and what does the evidence tell us?
FACT: bad nutrition, or malnutrition, makes our immune system weaker. It can lead to more frequent infections and also a stronger inflammatory response both of which make our immune system poorer. https://www.bda.uk.com/food-health/food-facts.html
So what does this mean for me?
Following the Eat Well Guide: it’s all about balance and giving our bodies all the nutrients that it needs and in the right quantities.
A healthy diet is one that provides us with:
- Carbohydrates or starchy foods such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, cous cous to name a few try choosing wholegrain varieties when possible
- Fruit and Vegetables try aiming for 5 a day – top tip a portion is about the amount you fit in the palm of your hand such as 1 apple, 1 banana, 2 satsumas etc.
- Meat, fish or alternatives
- Milk and dairy note if avoiding this food group you need to make sure that alternatives are fortified with calcium which helps to keep your bones strong.
Are there any important nutrients that will help my immune system or do I need to take supplements?
By following the Eat Well Plate you should not need any supplements in addition to what you eat every day. Sometimes people will need supplements if they are low in a particular vitamin or mineral such as calcium if not eating milk or dairy products or requirements high
Some vitamins can help improve your immune system these are:
Vitamin C is important for production and function of white blood cells – these are our bodies defence cells and help to protect against and fight infections such as the common cold. Most fruit and vegetables will give you all the vitamin C you need. Especially good sources are oranges, sweet potatoes, broccoli and peppers. By eating your ‘5 a day’ you will easily meet your Vitamin C requirements.
Iron - If you are deficient (low in), it can weaken your immune system. Iron helps to make immune cells in our bodies. It is found in meat, baked beans and pulses, nuts and wholegrains.
Vitamin D is important in our immune response, if we are deficient in vitamin D it can weaken our immune system. Vitamin D is mainly produced in our bodies after we’ve been in the sun so making sure that you go out in the fresh air will help boost your Vitamin D (remember to be aware of skin care if outside for long periods of time). Dietary sources include oily fish and eggs. It is recommended that everyone takes a Vitamin D supplement every day of 10µg (400i.u.).
Zinc is another nutrient that keeps our immune system strong, it is also important for wound healing. Zinc can be found in meat, shellfish, dairy and nuts.
How much is too much?
Like with most things, balance and moderation is the key! All nutrients are important to us but taking too much of one nutrient can be as bad for us as taking too little. If you have too much vitamin C you’ll likely find that you have a bad stomach as your body tries to get rid of what it does not need.
By following the Eat Well Plate you should be able to get the balance right.
Following the Eat Well Plate and choosing a balanced diet will provide our bodies with the right fuel (nutrients) that it needs to perform as best as it can.
You can help your immune system by aiming to be a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet
Enjoy your food and keep well hydrated!
Don’t forget about fluid! Our bodies need 8 glasses of fluid per day to function this can be water, tea, coffee, squashes etc. if choosing squashes think about low sugar options that you could use.
Of the 11.6 million older people in the UK, over a million are estimated to be malnourished or at risk of malnutrition1. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) suggests that all people in care settings should be screened regularly in order to assess the risk of malnutrition using a validated screening tool such as the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST)2. This tool can be used to easily identify individuals who are at risk of malnutrition and dietary plans developed to support them. A third of people admitted to hospital have malnutrition³.
Malnutrition results in an:
- Increased risk of infection
- Increased risk of pressure sores
- Increased risk of falls
- Reduced mobility
- Longer hospital stays
- Increased hospital admissions
- Increased prescriptions
- Increased morbidity and mortality
- Reduced quality of life
Haywood Community hospital
To highlight and to promote the important messages of Nutrition & Hydration Week there will be lots of activities taking place at the Haywood Hospital throughout the week including an interactive display in the foyer, poster displays on the wards and hydrations stations for ward staff.
As part of Nutrition & Hydration Week, Wednesday 18 March is national Swallow Awareness Day.
Swallow awareness day highlights the challenge and importance of achieving and maintaining good nutrition & hydration for patients who suffer with dysphagia and highlights the joint working between Speech & Language Therapists & Dietitians in supporting this group of patients.
On Wednesday 18 March there will be an interactive display in the Haywood Hospital foyer with food and drink samples. There will be poster displays on wards and a ward dash delivering yummy thickened mocktails for ward staff to taste.