How to Boost Concentration, Energy and Immunity

For most of us, our daily 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.

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 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.


Energy


Wholegrain carbohydrates and foods rich in fibre play an essential role in keeping your body energized. 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.


Concentration


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



Immunity


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 vegetable, 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.
  • 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
Viva! Health is the world’s leading resource on vegan health and nutrition. To find out more, please visit www.vivahealth.org.uk

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