Published: 02nd September 2020
Easy, affordable and a healthy diet can protect people from COVID-19
Though no food will cure COVID-19 infections, a healthy diet along with good physical activity will help build a stronger immune system to tackle the adverse impact of the deadly Coronavirus
Easy, affordable and healthy eating can help people from falling prey to COVID-19, say nutritionists.
The food consumed impacts the human body's ability to fight diseases and recover from infections and eating a healthy, nutritious, and balanced diet is important amid global pandemic, they said on the occasion of national nutrition week, being celebrated from September 1 to September 7.
Though no food will cure COVID-19 infections, a healthy diet along with good physical activity will help build a stronger immune system to tackle the adverse impact of the deadly Coronavirus, they said.
As the nutrition week is being celebrated amidst the pandemic, doctors say it is important to know that good nutrition helps reduce the risks of ailments like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, heart diseases, which are common reasons for falling prey to coronavirus. Many types of cancers too can be prevented by consuming healthy and nutritious food.
According to common understanding, a healthy diet for a newborn baby means exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months, with the introduction of nutritious and safe foods to complement breast milk from 6 months to 2 years and beyond. For young children, a healthy and balanced diet is essential for growth and development while for aged, it can help to ensure a healthier and more active life.
"Food makes a world of difference to our system which is linked to the solar clock. Eating at regular hours means the energy levels remain steady and do not sway from highs to lows. This will help body rhythm settle down and it will balance out the hormones to keep the body energized. Any food that is closest to its natural form, least processed and seasonal is the best for health," said Srilatha, Chief Clinical Nutritionist, Medicover Hospitals.
"Nutrient-rich food adds health while processed and refined foods add empty calories leaving you without energy and feeling low and can lead to many diseases. Fermented foods add good bacteria that keep the gut healthy and the absorption of nutrients efficient," she said.
One must include adequate amounts of whole grains, pulses, seasonal vegetables, green leafy vegetables, whole fruits, milk and milk products, and to add moderate amounts of non-veg foods focusing on fish and skinless chicken. Whole grains and pulses provide macronutrients like carbohydrate and proteins. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants.
Adding nuts to daily food is a great habit, and it helps strengthen immunity. Nuts and oilseeds add healthy fats, dietary fibre, protein and most importantly, antioxidants, which are known to clean up the free radicals from the system. It is most important to take adequate fluids like water, lemon water, coconut water, buttermilk, homemade soups, pudina pani, zeera pani, and any other non-sugary liquids to stay hydrated. Even mild dehydration leaves the human body exhausted.
"Like any army fighting an enemy, the immune system needs good, regular nourishment. It is observed that people who do not eat healthy and do not care for immunity are more vulnerable to infectious diseases like Covid-19. Eat right to stay tight, must be the philosophy when it comes to consuming sufficient vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients," said Zeenat Fatima, Nutritionist, Continental Hospitals.
Good nutrition and exercise is crucial for health, particularly in times when the immune system might need to fight back. Limited access to fresh foods may compromise opportunities to continue eating a healthy and varied diet. It can also potentially lead to increased consumption of highly processed foods, which tend to be high in unhealthy trans fats, cholesterol, sugars, and salt. Nonetheless, even with few and limited ingredients, one can continue eating a diet that supports good health.