Food & nutrition : What all you must eat during times of Corona pandemic
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As we are facing this pandemic outbreak of COVID-19, many are wondering how to safely shop, order and prepare food to minimise transmission of the novel coronavirus. While there is no published evidence of contracting the coronavirus disease from touching food or food packaging that came in contact with the virus due to coughing or sneezing from an infected person, the virus causing corona can survive on surfaces and objects for a certain amount of time.
This is the reason we are strongly recommended to wash our hands regularly, especially after touching frequently handled objects such as door knobs or handles. Most important, the primary method of transmitting covid-19 is droplet spread from being close to an infected person, thus social distancing is the most important way to reduce risk to you and others.
Apart from cleaning and sanitising your hands and reducing your interaction
with people as much as you can, its extremely important that we prepare our bodies to fight against this virus.
Keeping in mind how quickly it is spreading and how crowded our nation is, it is quite possible we may have already come across this virus and some may even be carrying it right now without showing any symptoms.
It is crucial to strengthen our immune system so much that if at all we are
exposed to virus, our body is prepared to ward off the effects.
Elina Wadia, A Clinical Nutritionist and PhD Scholar writes about the
importance of diet to be consumed to keep our immunity strong to fight the
Immunity, in general is low in two types of people:
1. Those who are over nourished: like the ones living with cardiovascular
disease, diabetes, obesity etc.
2. Infants who were born with low birth weight and the elderly.
If we look at stats, these are also the two categories which are affected the most by COVID-19. But beside these two categories, the others who are affected are usually those who are deficient in nutrients. A deficiency of single nutrients can result in altered immune response. Even if one of our essential nutrients is mildly low, the way our body responds to viruses is affected significantly. She recommends to drink buffalo’s milk daily especially to the elder group of population. Milk proteins, that is, casein and whey, can enhance lymphocyte (also known as WBC) production which are one of the body’s main types of immune cells.
Studies have shown an increase in blood phagocytic function post
milk consumption. In simple words, remember how in the Pac-Man game, the yellow Pac-Man would gobble down the tiny balls? Similarly, in our bodies,
phagocytes gobble down bacteria and other invaders. Consuming milk will
protect our body from being affected by the bacteria and viruses, if exposed.
Another tip is to cook in iron and copper utensils as much as you can to
replenish our system with these two essential nutrients without much effort.
Vitamin D is specifically designed to build pulmonary resistance and hence
plays a key role in protecting us from respiratory tract infection, which is what
covid-19 goes for. No other organ but our lungs. Vitamin D enhances our
defence mechanisms against respiratory pathogens. We Indians, due to increased urbanisation and also due to our skin colour, are usually deficient in this nutrient. Apart from getting more early morning sunshine, she would
strongly suggest everyone to start taking Vitamin D supplements immediately.
Uprise D3 (2K) or D Rise 2000 (2000 IU) are available across the nation and
absolutely safe to consume. (1 cap post lunch). Arbivit-D is what she would
suggest for kids. For dosage, please check with your child’s Pediatrician.
Vitamin B12, if deficient, can result in suppression of protective immune
responses to viruses and bacteria. Since this nutrient is primarily available in
non-vegetarian sources, vegetarians and vegans should consider having 1000-
1500 mg daily (unless pregnant or lactating)
Remilyn, Elnery OD, Matilda forte, Nervup OD and Hosit are some
supplements available across the nation. (1 cap before breakfast). Avoid alcohol if taking these supplements, because the effect will be nullified.
For the non-vegetarians, Becadexamine and Neurobion Forts are good options.
A reduction in Vitamin C is associated with lowered bactericidal activity
(killing of bacteria). Even the macrophages drop! (remember the pac-man analogy?). Have two servings of Vitamin C daily like amla, strawberries, guava, lemon, orange etc. You can also consider Fast & Up (1000 mg), especially because it also has zinc.
She further writes, we have about 100 trillion live microorganisms inside our
gut, which comprise more than 75% of the immune system? And though it may
sound challenging but improving our gut health is not only very easy, but also a
treat to your taste buds.
She recommended the following foods that improve gut health:
Fermented foods give our bodies a dose of healthy probiotics, which are crucial
for healthy digestion.
Eat at least one fermented food daily. It can be Idlis, Dosas, dhoklas, curd,
yoghurt, pickled carrots, cucumbers, beetroot, cabbage etc.
Food that reduce inflammation:
There are so many foods like sugar, HCFS, refined vegetable oils, trans-fats,
alcohol etc. that affect inflammation in our bodies. And prolonged, sustained
inflammation is linked to an increased risk of diseases.
There are also some foods that reduce inflammation. They are tomatoes, this is good time to have tomato soup, fishes, specially the fatty ones, like tuna, salmon etc. nuts, olive oil. Have more ghee than oil to strengthen your immune system.
Apart from the diet, taking good sleep, regular exercise and managing stress
also enhance our immune system. It is equally important to keep our immunity
strong and to take care of our inside as much as we are concern about our
outside health and surroundings.
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