We have heard that ‘food is a great medicine’ due to it’s built-in medicinal and healing properties for the human body. The best medicine to protect you from viruses and diseases is the food you take. In the times of the Covid-19 pandemic, it becomes more important what we eat. Building the immune system and giving a boost to our physical and mental well-being is of the utmost importance in these testing times. People are falling ill from the coronavirus; unhealthy diets are promoting the conditions that put them at risk. So here are some tips on how you can boost the immune system with food and give it strength during this Coronavirus outbreak.
Follow safe food handling practices
Only safe food is healthy food. When preparing food for yourself and others, it is important to follow some hygiene practices to avoid foodborne diseases. The key principles of food hygiene include:
- Wash your hands, kitchen, utensils and keep it clean
- keep separate raw and cooked food, especially raw meat and fresh produce
- cook your food thoroughly
- keep your food at secure temperatures, either below 5 °C or above 60 °C; and
- use safe water and raw material.
By following these five key recommendations for safer food, you can prevent many common food contamination diseases.
Eat fresh and healthy foods
- Eat fruits, vegetables, legumes (e.g. lentils, beans), nuts, and whole grains (e.g. maize, oats, wheat, brown rice or potato), and foods from animal sources like meat, fish, eggs, and milk.
- Daily, eat 2 cups of fruit 2 cups of vegetables,180 g of grains, and at least 160 g of meat or beans.
- For snacks, choose raw vegetables and fresh fruit rather than foods that are high in fat, sugar, or salt.
- Do not overcook food as this can lead to the loss of important vitamins.
Drink enough water every day
- Good hydration is crucial for optimal health. Whenever available and safe for consumption. It transports nutrients and compounds in the blood and regulates your body temperature.
- Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water on a daily basis.
- You can also take some other drinks, like lemon juice, coconut water, tea, and coffee. But not to consume too much caffeine, and avoid fruit juices, syrups, fruit juice concentrates, fizzy as they all contain sugar.
Limit your fat intake
- Consume unsaturated fats (e.g. found in fish, nuts, olive oil, sunflower, and corn oils) rather than saturated fats (e.g. found in meat, butter, coconut oil, cheese, ghee, and lard).
- Choose white meat, which is generally low in fat, rather than red meat.
- Avoid intake of fast food, snack food, fried food, frozen pizza, pies, cookies as they contain a high amount of fat.
- opt those cooking methods that require less or no fat, such as steaming or grilling.
Eat less salt
Many of the foods contain high levels of salt. It is recommended that one should consume less than 5 g of salt per day. In order to achieve this, prioritize foods with reduced added salt. According to studies, 50–75% of the salt intake comes from the foods we eat, rather than what we add. Given that you might be consuming enough salt already, avoid adding extra salt to your meals at the table.
Limit your sugar intake
It is recommended that ideally less than 5% of total energy intake for adults should come from free sugars (about 6 teaspoons). If you want to eat something sweet, fresh fruit and dry fruits should always be the priority. When another dessert is chosen, ensure that they are low in sugar. Watch out for low-fat options, as these are high in added sugars. Limit the amount of sugar to foods and avoid sweetening your beverages.
Enjoy family meals
The social distancing associated with the coronavirus outbreak has meant that many families are spending more time at home, which provides new opportunities to share meals. With the increasing number of coronavirus cases, more people are taking their social distancing up a notch with strict stay-at-home orders. Permit children to choose what vegetables to include in your meal may encourage them to eat at the table. It is important to keep meals simple, less spicy, and teach children about proper food safety including handwashing, cleaning, consumption of raw ingredients, and some of the home safety tips.
Counseling and Therapist support
While a properly balanced diet improves health and boosts your immunity, they are not magic bullets. People dealing with chronic illnesses who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 may need support with their mental health and diet to ensure they keep in good health. Seek counseling and therapist support groups from appropriately trained health care professionals and also community-based lay and peer counselors.
These tips will not just help in boosting your immunity, but also help in maintaining good bone health, healthy joints, and glowing skin. Along with a healthy diet, wear your mask, and follow social distancing.
Stay safe, stay healthy!