Boosting Immunity: Learning to live with Corona
Now, when countries are pondering on lifting off the lockdown in a phase wise manner, and some experts suggesting Herd immunity, we, the general population, have to think of ways to adjust to the new normal of Learning to live with Corona. As one of my friends said, “One day or the other, we’ll all have to face the reality that we might be affected with corona. We have to eat to live, and to eat, we have to earn, and to earn, we have to go out, and once we go out we are susceptible”.
So before we venture out in the open, let us build our immunity and make our body stronger to deal with this exposure. Immunity, in simple terms, can be understood as the resistance our body puts into defending itself from the attack of a foreign agent, like a virus or a bacteria. It is a complex system that requires a variety of nutrients for proper functioning.
Research has suggested that the nutritional status of the person has a direct relation with falling sick. We are what we eat. A healthy diet is key to the prevention of viral flu and an active immune system. So, let's look into how we can eat healthy to build a stronger immune system.
Lets go back to ancient basics.
Remember to “Eat local”. The thought of eating local and seasonal food itself gives a very good feeling.
Nature has provided ample cures for any disease it spreads. Our biological system is made in such a way that it thrives best with the resources that are around us. Those that are available in our surroundings. Don’t you miss that smell of a freshly picked berry or the taste of a garden-picked pea from your childhood days and yearn for them? While a globalised food distribution system has made every food so easily accessible, researchers have stated that one can eat better and more nutritious meals with local, seasonal foods . So, look around you, opt for produce that is indigenous to your place.
The food plate method
The dietary factors that cause harm to immunity functions, are either deficient intake of macronutrients such as, fat carbohydrate or protein, or deficiency in some specific micronutrient elements such as vitamins, minerals etc. Balanced nutrition enhances the body's resistance against infections. We all know that eating only one or two types of food cannot prevent sickness but it must be a combination of foods from different food groups supplying different nutrients.
By applying the healthy food plate method, we can achieve optimal nutrition thereby boosting immunity levels. The food plate method is a guide to achieve a balanced healthy diet.
An ideal food plate should include important nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins and minerals from vegetables, fruits, milk and water, in appropriate proportions.
If you divide your plate with portions from different foodgroups, it should look like this plate.
In the given portioning, vegetables and fruits should make up half of your plate. Include a variety of them with different colours. Keep in mind that potatoes are not considered as vegetables on this plate.
Include whole and intact grains in one quarter of the plate. For example, whole wheat , rough milled or roughly polished rice and their products, oats, quinoa, brown rice etc.
Another quarter of the plate should be filled with healthy protein foods such as fish, poultry, beans, pulses and nuts. Minimize the use of red meat, processed bacons or sausages.
Choose healthy vegetable oils and avoid partially hydrogenated oil. Stay away from unhealthy trans fat.
Low-fat milk and dairy products that provide calcium, phosphorus, B vitamins and protein, which are essential for a healthy body should be included. Drink water in plenty. Limit juice, tea and coffee. Skip sugary drinks.
Different countries have developed their own modified form of this plate along with specific guidelines, but the core message in all of these remains the same –
The inclusion of a variety of foods from the “Basic food groups” so that they provide all the essential nutrients required for healthy living.
Choose plant foods over animal sources as they are diverse and whole.
Adopt water as the main beverage choice.
Immunity boosting nutrients
Eating healthy foods may not be able to prevent you fully from falling ill in present times but will definitely support your immune system to fight back to normality. The nutrients that help boost up our immunity are Protein, Vitamin B, C, A, D and E and minerals Zinc, Selenium, Iron.
Eat a rainbow diet
Eat a rainbow diet i.e, choose a variety of different coloured foods in your plate. Include colourful fruits and vegetables in your diet to maximize your nutrient intake .
All coloured foods are rich in nutrients that have immune boosting properties. As far as possible, eat the vegetables and fruits either raw, boiled or cooked. Foods get their colour from the phytochemicals present in them. These phytochemicals are vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are essential for the body, that are good for preventing and reducing the risk of various diseases. Each colour adds a different nutrient, so the idea is to keep your meals as colourful as possible. The rainbow diet will detoxify your body and build immunity and strong bones.
If you go for health drinks or packaged foods, make a habit of reading the labels. Look for the immune building nutrients
Keep yourself hydrated. Take warm fluids and water. Eg, lukewarm lemon water, tea with ginger, basil, cinnamon or pepper powder, mixed fruits and vegetable juices, milk with honey and turmeric.
Summer is approaching . But curb your urge to go for ice creams and cold drinks as far as you can.
Keep yourself aware. Stay alert and stay away from fake news circulating.
Wash hands and sanitise as frequently as you can. Maintain social distancing, wear masks (choose home made masks, leave the medical ones for the people in essential services).