• Jeanine Mewburn

Improve your immune response during the pandemic

Lymphoedema is a debilitating condition that needs to be factored in a health management plan to maintain health during the pandemic. What we know is that lymphoedema patients often exhibit impaired immune function, particularly in the affected area, predisposing it to a variety of infections.

It is important during the pandemic that anyone with lymphoedema continues an active self-management with daily self-massage and wearing their compression garment. The existing weather, as we well know, is not a helping factor with its high humidity and heat. Should you experience more swelling and difficulty to manage lymphoedema or aches and pain, see your therapist for a lymphatic drainage massage or see your doctor if you suspect an infection.

I did some research regarding boosting the immune system and preventing infection. Do you know that having an adequate and balanced diet always turns up? Iddir, et al., 2020 reported a list of dietary essentials, backed by further studies, and I would like to share below the most relevant information:

  • The consumption of dietary fibres is associated to lower mortality due to infectious and respiratory diseases.

  • Vitamin D status is strongly associated with COVID-19 mortality and significantly fewer respiratory tract infections were observed following a vitamin D supplementation.

  • Lower incidence of pneumonia in individuals receiving vitamin E supplements is also noted.

  • Daily supplementation in vitamin C with extra doses reduces the time of having a common cold.

  • A faster decrease of cold symptoms, fewer days with coughing, hoarseness, headache and nasal congestion and sore throat is reported with Zinc supplementation.

  • Reduced macro-minerals (magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, selenium) and trace elements have been associated with increased risk of infection.

It is not necessary to race to the chemist to fill your medicine cabinet with vitamins and minerals. Most of them are available from your food. For example:


We know that red meat and liver is a food rich in iron, but do you know that iron is also available in lentils, figs, sesame seeds, tofu, pistachio nuts, liquorice, and curly kale?

Zinc, potassium, magnesium, selenium

Lobster, crayfish, and oysters are rich in zinc and other minerals, as well as cashews, chickpeas, oatmeal, kidney beans, almonds for magnesium. To this array of food add garlic, onion, broccoli, Brazil nuts, as a rich source of selenium.

Vitamin D

Sun exposure is a natural method to allow our body to create its own vitamin D and vitamin D is also available from fresh fish mainly oily fish like tuna, salmon, mackerel, caviar and fish roe, eggs, mushrooms, yoghurt.

Vitamin E

Lots of food contain vitamin E, for example wheat germ, almonds, plant oils (vegetable, sunflower, grapeseed, etc.), sunflower seeds, peanut butter, spinach, broccoli, kiwi, mango.


Red meat and white meat such as chicken and pork are also healthy and are regularly mentioned as food source for minerals and vitamins, and most importantly they are high in proteins. Meat is easily substituted by legumes such as chickpeas, peas, lentils, tofu and complemented with dark green vegetables such as spinach, brussels sprouts, broccoli to obtain your daily quota of proteins.

I would like to share a recipe for a lovely dish bursting with flavors and goodness, which you can download below.

Grilled chicken and kale - brussels sprout salad - crostini receipe
Download PDF • 139KB

The foods we choose make a difference and nothing would beat the pleasure of having your friends and family around the table for a good meal. Add a glass of mellow red wine (rich in bioflavonoids), and you have the perfect picture. That works for me. Would it work for you?


Ariela. (2021, September 2). Facty Health. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from

Iddir, M., Brito, A., Dingeo, G., Sosa, S., Del Campo, F., La Frano, M., & Bohn, T. (2020, May 27). Strengthening the Immune System and Reducing. doi:doi: 10.3390/nu12061562

Jack, T. (2021, February 3). Vitamin D Facts: Everything You Need to Know. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from Symptom Find:

Mallons, E., Powell, P., & Mortimer, T. R. (2008, June 28). Evidence for altered cell-mediated immunity in postmastectomy lymphoedema. British Journal of Dermatology. doi:

Robyn, P. (2018, January 10). Feeling Tired? Plant Based? Eat These 7 Iron Rich Foods. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from Women's Health:

Rosalba, C. (2020, November 2). Integrative and proactive strategies for maintaining health in the era of Covid-19. Journal of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society, 26(2), pp. 66-71. Retrieved January 25, 2022

Yuan, Y., Arcucci, V., Levy, S. M., & Achen, M. G. (2019, January 29). Modulation of Immunity by Lymphatic Dysfunction in Lymphedema. doi:

#happy #healthylife #goodfood #lymphology

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