Covid-19, Lockdown and Diet
Covid-19 is a new disease in India that seems to have no medicine as of now. Though researches are going on at full speed, there is still not enough conclusive evidence to suggest that a particular drug or a natural supplement is effective for Covid-19 treatment and safe for human use. However, doctors and researchers agree that certain types of food are good for boosting immunity in the body while some are harmful. So let us find out some crucial points that may help us choose what food to eat during the lockdown period or if you are affected by asymptotic or mild Covid-19.
1)Add Immunity Boosters :
Immunity comes from within our body. But immunity in every individual is not the same for a particular disease. That is why we see some people mildly affected by Covid-19 while others are seriously affected. It is thus very essential to boost up immunity in our body in the lockdown period. With Covid-19, there are numerous food items labelled with immunity boosters. But the real immunity boosters are available in our homes. Turmeric, garlic, ginger, cumin, cloves, mustard, cardamom and cinnamon are excellent immunity boosters. Most Indian food we prepare at home contain these spices. You can make turmeric milk at home with cardamom, ginger tea with cinnamon, fragrant jeera rice with cloves, garlic, cumin and mustard. These foods make sure you are consuming a sufficient amount of immunity boosters every day.
2)Include Whole Grains :
Refined grains only contain empty calories that are not so useful in fighting disease. Unrefined/whole grains contain essential vitamins and minerals that are essential in this hour. Instead of maida or refined flour, it is best to consume whole wheat flour or atta. Brown or hand-pounded rice are the better options than white rice. Cornmeal or makai is again a better substitute for cornstarch. Millets like jowar, bajra, and ragi, widely available in western India, are also very good for health, protect us from diseases, and provide energy requirements to the body.
3)Get Natural Sources of Vitamins and Minerals :
Vitamin C, vitamin D, antioxidants, and some minerals help reduce severity of Covid-19 symptoms. So doctors usually recommend having a dose of multivitamin and mineral pills so that there is no deficiency of vitamins and minerals in the body. However, a better and a natural way of enriching vitamins and minerals in our body is eating their natural sources. Natural sources tend to absorb better within the body and are free from any side effects. Carrots are a good source of vitamin A. Amlaki is the richest natural source of vitamin C, as rich as any vitamin pills. Eggs, oily fish, and mushrooms are very rich in vitamin D. Minerals like iron are available in most lentils and legumes containing vitamin B9, magnesium and potassium. Leafy vegetables like spinach are excellent sources of vitamin K. The richest source of Omega-3 fatty acids is flaxseeds and oily fish. Antioxidants are present in almost every local fruit and vegetable. Berries, apple, banana, garlic, broccoli, dark chocolate are filled with antioxidants that protect your body cells from free radical attacks.
4)Green tea and herbal tea :
It is believed that green tea has curative properties of many diseases, including Covid-19. Though there is not enough evidence, drinking green tea regularly is a good option for boosting immunity. Similarly effective as green tea is tulsi tea which is holy basil boiled in water. Hibiscus tea in limited quantities is good for health. Note that you should have these only if your doctor allows you as they may interfere with allopathy treatment if you are undergoing any.
5)Sweetener and salt :
In the lockdown period, you should try to cut down sugar intake as much as possible. It is best if you avoid sugar entirely. Instead, use honey for sweetening. Honey is believed to have medicinal properties other than just sweetening the food. Jaggery or unrefined sugar are also good options. However, if you have greater than regular blood sugar or diabetes, then you should avoid all of these. Instead, have stevia, which is very sweet but negligible in calories. It would help if you cut down the salt intake and that your blood pressure does not increase substantially.
6)Portion size :
It is known that Covid-19 affects obese and overweight people more. Lockdown is the ideal time to shed off extra fat from your body. So your portion size should be small, as small as you can, without feeling hungry. However, on the other hand, if you are affected by Covid-19, then you need more energy to fight off the virus, hence need a substantial amount of food. Thus, there is a need to choose the right food that will not make you fat and provide you with energy. Eat more proteins as they will repair the damaged cells. Eat less refined carbs or refined oils. Give up on junk food. Do not overeat. Just eat enough that seem to satisfy your hunger. Take small portions of food but eat frequently. Your meals should have a variety of food sources. Increase the intake of fruits and salad. Refrain from consuming alcohol or smoking.
7)Dietary Supplements :
It is not necessary to have dietary supplements unless your doctor says so. A healthy diet is enough to meet the daily requirements of vitamins and minerals. However, an increasing number of people are deficient in some nutrients or others. Hence, people above 40 years of age and others suffering from nutrition deficiency should take supplements on the nutrients they lack. It is also an excellent option to consult dieticians and eat the right choice and quantity of food at the right time.
8)The Bottomline :
Incorporate local and seasonal fruits into your diet. Have less quantity of refined carbs and unhealthy fats. Maintain portions and do not overeat. Reduce sugar and salt intake, increase spices like turmeric, cloves, garlic. Make a habit of munching on nuts, drinking herbal or green tea with honey when hungry. The more you eat healthily, stay healthy, and think positive, the fewer chance Covid-19 can infect you severely.
The above information is taken from official sites of the internet. For a daily routine diet chart, follow WHO’s prescribed diet, http://www.emro.who.int/nutrition/news/nutrition-advice-for-adults-during-the-covid-19-outbreak.html. For more tips regarding what to eat during the lockdown, you can refer here, https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19/publications-and-technical-guidance/food-and-nutrition-tips-during-self-quarantine. However, if you are following a particular diet, or is under treatment, then it is better to consult your dietician or doctor before implementing any changes.
Written by – Himadri Paul