Traditional age-old herbs and spices like ginger, garlic, fennel, turmeric, cloves, tulsi and coconut oil possess anti-viral properties.
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the global scenario, drastically leading to a new normal. With social distancing and personal hygiene being the topmost safety measures during this difficult time, proper nutrition, a well-balanced diet and adequate hydration are equally vital.
COVID-19 is a disease affecting the immune system. Like any other infection, it too takes a toll on the entire physiology. Therefore, the upkeep of same is extremely crucial. There is no food or diet that can prevent the virus from contracting. However, a strong immunity can provide a tall protecting barrier from the risk, keeping you healthy and ongoing. And if contracted, can help you fight back.
Diet and immunity are closely linked. It greatly influences an individual’s susceptibility to the disease. The current scenario with the state of self-isolation, lockdown, and social distancing has imposed a host of challenges on every individual’s lifestyle. Home confinement, promotion of sedentary behaviours, fear and anxiety have significantly affected the overall health altering eating patterns, sleeping habits, and physical activity.
Therefore, an apt nutritional status with proper self-care is a must and a strong guarantee to help withstand the viral assault. The most potent dietary constituent to help boost the immunity is water soluble Vitamin C. The daily Vitamin C recommendation is 90mg/day and 75mg/day for men and women, respectively. Also, one must take care of the following-
· Consumption of a well-balanced diet, comprising all the food groups to ensure adequacy of essential nutrients. A good variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to take care of the vitamins and minerals needed to keep up the health. A good nutrient combination enhances the immunity, whereas dietary deficiencies can lead to a depressed immune function and increased risk of infection. A diet rich in protein, energy and micronutrients like iron, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, B6, and B12 is important for the maintenance of a proper immune system. Citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, nuts and dairy products aid in the same.
· Any infection triggers an inflammatory response in the body. An intake of good fats in the form of nuts, wholegrains and oils rich in unsaturated fatty acids (like groundnut oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, etc.). These provide a boost to immunity and help reduce inflammation. Nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory properties. Hence, are truly beneficial. Avoid a high intake of saturated fats like butter, cream, cheese, fatty meats.
· Avoiding processed, high sugar, high salt and high fat foods. Though ought to be comforting, these have and will always prove to be detrimental to health bringing down the disease fighting capacity of the body. In addition, they provide invitation to an array of chronic lifestyle illnesses. It is recommended to restrict sugar to not more than 50g/day and salt to 5g/day.
· Traditional age-old herbs and spices like ginger, garlic, fennel, turmeric, cloves, tulsi and coconut oil possess anti-viral properties. A flavourful herb tea early in the morning or a warm turmeric milk before sleep can help deliver a boost to relax the bodily functions.
· Drink atleast 8-10 glasses of water to keep your immunity at par. Staying well hydrated facilitates transportation of nutrients in the blood, detoxification and waste excretion, regulation of body temperature. Freshly prepared homemade juices, tender coconut water, too help additionally. Strictly avoid fizzy, carbonated sugar loaded beverages, soft drinks and alcohol consumption to keep your calorie count in check.
· Practice good food hygiene. Though there has been no evidence of contraction through food till date, food safety and proper handling of food is the primary step to prevention of the disease. One needs to keep clean via thorough washing, keep raw and cooked food separately, cook thoroughly and store at safe temperatures.
· And above all, as long as possible, one must avoid eating out. Eating and being at home is the best way to keep safe. A distance of at least a meter is required to be maintained. However, this is not always possible in crowded social set-ups like restaurants and cafes, no wonder the precautions taken. Droplets from an infected person may land on surfaces or people’s hands which may further lead to a chain of contractions. Moreover, despite you taking all the safety measures, one cannot be sure of the other. Hence, prevention is better than cure. Stay home, stay safe!
· Further in addition to optimal nutrition, lifestyle factors and strategies that can add up to one’s well being are- regular exercising, no smoking, a proper sleep for 8 hours, meditation and healthful means of tackling stress especially with this new normal (an escape to a hobby you never had enough time for amidst your busy schedule- painting, writing, reading, cooking, baking, and the foremost, some good family time).