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Feeling more stressed and anxious than ever before? You’re not alone. The impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has resulted in increased stress and anxiety for many South Australians, and for so many reasons. 

Whether it be health or financial worry, social isolation, or juggling working from home with family life, it seems no one has been immune to its effects.

But the good news is that we can all help reduce stress and improve our mood and mental wellbeing through the foods we eat. It’s simple and it’s all to do with gut health, and more specifically—in scientific terms—our gut microbiota!

The science
There are well established links between gut health and brain health, and while we can’t control some factors contributing to our gut health—such as age and where we live—research shows a modifiable factor that has a large impact is diet.

A diet that includes a wide variety of plant based foods, and is high in dietary fibre, will not only boost your happiness levels but will also help you fight the flu, boost your metabolism, reduce your risk of cancer and contribute to a long list of other benefits.

Our gut responds quickly, so any dietary changes you make will have a rapid effect. There is no better time to start boosting your fibre intake and improving your wellbeing than now. Just remember to drink plenty of water when you do.

How much fibre do I need?
Despite fibre playing such an important role in our health and wellbeing, data shows that Australians still aren’t not eating enough.

In the most recent 2011–2012 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS) in Australia, more than 1 in 2 children and more than 7 in 10 adults had fibre intakes below the recommended intake.

The daily recommended intake for men is 30g of fibre, with the daily recommended intake for women 25g. However research shows that most of us eat about 5g less than this recommendation each day.

Not yet convinced?
If you need more reason to increase the variety and amount of fibre you eat, here it is.

Did you know a heathy gut microbiota can also improve immunity, as can the nutrients vitamin C, zinc and protein?

With COVID-19 and the dreaded cold and flu season just around the corner, this offers even more reason to start increasing your fibre intake now.  Here’s our 10 diet tips from resident Dietitian Nat von Bertouch to reduce stress and boost immunity. 

  • Eat plenty of fibre rich foods such as grainy breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables, and lentils and legumes (a fibre rich meal plan can be found below).
  • Cut up veggie sticks Sunday night. Think carrot, snow peas, sugar snap peas, celery, capsicum – whatever you like. Pull veggie sticks out of the fridge for a quick easy snack.
  • Boost your immune system with vitamin C. Capsicum, broccoli, tomatoes, kiwi fruit, strawberries and citrus fruits are great sources of vitamin C so choose these foods regularly.
  • Add in exercise. Go for lunchtime walks, take walking meetings, or find an online program that you enjoy. Your gut health and mood will thank you for it.
  • Eat protein rich foods such as chicken, red meat, seafood, beans, lentils and reduced fat dairy to support your immune system.
  • Choose a veggie based snack every day! Be it veggie sticks or veggies on crackers, find a way to include vegetables in a snack each day.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Sleep helps your body fight infection so rug up, watch an episode of the latest Netflix series before heading to bed early.
  • Eat foods high in zinc like fish, seafood, beef, baked beans and pumpkin seeds as they can help fight off colds.
  • Leave ‘junk food’ at the supermarket. Out of sight, out of mind!
  • Drink plenty of water.

Download your high fibre meal plan