Extra boost from COVID-19 infections with food

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”― Hippocrates

This quote couldn’t echo more louder than now. Coronavirus came to the world as a strange flu. One that escalated rapidly, spread from China to other parts of the world. It is  5 months in, since the first reported case, yet most populations are unsure when their governments will lift the lockdown bans, open up schools and let them go to work.

Medics and medical researchers have tried their best to explain the cause of disease, it’s nature, the type of virus. Amidst discoveries, disagreements and debates, we are sure that COVID-19 is of a viral nature and that it has no cure.  The experts however are yet to solve how to get a vaccine to curb new infections and spread.

From the general analysis, the medics have encouraged that people lead healthy lifestyles to prevent weak bodies or development of other diseases. We are all aware of reducing or quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, getting enough sleep, exercising and eating healthy.

Eating healthy is not about strict limitations, staying unrealistically thin, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it’s about feeling great, having more energy, improving your health, and boosting your mood. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, eating healthy food remains an important part of maintaining your health.

While there are no specific foods that can help protect you from the virus, a nutritious diet can boost your immune system or help you fight off symptoms. You may not be able to share meals with friends and loved ones, but there are lots of other ways to eat well and support your health at this difficult time.

The normal intake of an average in a day should be 

  • two serves of fruit
  • four to five serves of vegetables
  • four to six serves of wholemeal or wholegrain breads and cereals
  • two serves of reduced fat dairy products
  • one serve of lean protein
  • small amount of healthy fats.

This doesn’t mean you break the bank and consume all your savings. A simple menu of Maize , greens and some protein whether plant protein or animal like beans or fish, all locally available. 

Maintaining a healthy diet to help boost your immune system may also give you an edge  It’s important to note that no research has been done on foods that help fight against COVID-19 specifically.

The body when it’s fighting infections, it requires extra vitamins and nutrients to produce antibodies that help fight off diseases. They include vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, and the minerals iron, selenium, and zinc.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A maintains the structure of the cells in the skin, respiratory tract and gut. This forms a barrier and is your body’s first line of defence. We also need vitamin A to help make antibodies which neutralise the pathogens that cause infection..

Vitamin A is found in oily fish, egg yolks, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes.

Further, vegetables contain beta-carotene, which your body can convert into vitamin A. Beta-carotene is found in leafy green vegetables such as Spinach and yellow and orange vegetables like pumpkin and carrots.

B vitamins

B vitamins, particularly B6, B9 and B12, contribute to your body’s first response once it has recognised a pathogen.They do this by influencing the production and activity of white cells..

B6 is found in cereals, legumes, green leafy vegetables, fruit, nuts, fish, chicken and meat. B9 (folate) is abundant in green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds and is added to commercial bread-making flour. B12 (cyanocobalamin) is found in animal products, including eggs, meat and dairy.

Vitamins C and E

Vitamin C and vitamin E help protect cells from oxidative stress. Vitamin C also helps clean up this cellular mess by producing specialised cells to mount an immune response, including neutrophils, lymphocytes and phagocytes. Good sources of vitamin C include oranges, lemons, limes, berries, kiwifruit, broccoli, tomatoes and capsicum.

Vitamin E is found in nuts, green leafy vegetables and vegetables oils.

Vitamin D

Some immune cells need vitamin D to help destroy pathogens that cause infection. Although sun exposure allows the body to produce vitamin D, food sources including eggs, fish and some milks and margarine brands may be fortified with Vitamin D.

People with vitamin D deficiency may need supplements. Vitamin D supplements can help protect against acute respiratory infections, particularly among people who are deficient.

Iron, zinc, selenium

We need iron, zinc and selenium for immune cell growth, among other functions. Iron helps kill pathogens by increasing the number of free radicals that can destroy them. It also regulates enzyme reactions essential for immune cells to recognise and target pathogens.

Zinc helps maintain the integrity of the skin and mucous membranes. Zinc and selenium also act as an antioxidant, helping mop up some of the damage caused by oxidative stress. Zinc is found in seafood, meat, chicken, dried beans and nuts.

Iron is found in meat, chicken and fish. Vegetarian sources include legumes, whole grains and iron-fortified breakfast cereals. Nuts, meat, cereals and mushrooms are good food sources of selenium.

Pregnant women, some people with chronic health conditions, and people with conditions that mean they can’t eat properly or are on very restrictive diets, may need specific supplements. 

Beyond diet, other measures you can take to stay as healthy as possible in the face of coronavirus. Practice social distancing and wash your hands with soap regularly.

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