Immunity in the Times of Corona – by Dr. Binti Jhuraney

In the absence of a proven treatment or vaccine and constantly rising death toll because of Corona virus (Covid-19) infection globally, we should be taking serious and effective steps to boost our body’s defence mechanism. This article explains the measures you must take.

Our immune system comprises of Thymus, Spleen, bone marrow and the lymphatic system, which help in production of white blood cells and antibodies. These help the body fight against various pathogens and infections. We can strengthen the immune system by taking care of the following factors:

  • Proper diet: Ensure consumption of variety of fruits and vegetables. Add whole foods and lean proteins to your meals. Cut back on junk food, smoking and heavy alcohol consumption.
  • Regular exercise: At least thirty minutes of moderate intensity physical exercise, five days a week is recommended. Do walking, yoga, dance, pilates, home workouts or just anything that helps you pump up the heart.
  • Adequate sleep: Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep every night to reboot their system.
  • Drinking plenty of water: Hydrating the body is very important for performing all the bodily functions including a smoothly running immune system.
  • Reducing stress: Anxiety and chronic stress releases stress hormones that supress the immune system. Mindful meditation and sticking to a daily routine helps.

Let us discuss more on the right diet and nutrition aspect. It is advisable to fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables that provide the important antioxidants, i.e. vitamins, minerals necessary for building the body immunity. Here, variety is the key, consume different colours of fruits and veggies for maximum benefits.

Whole foods like oats, brown rice, millets should make up the quarter of your plate and the remaining quarter should have good quality proteins like chicken, fish, eggs, beans, pulses etc.

The nutrients that have an important role to play in our body’s immune system are:

Vitamin A

Found in pumpkin, carrots, green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, eggs, sweet potato, mushrooms, mangoes.

Vitamin B6

Found in salmon, tuna, chickpeas, nuts.

Vitamin C

Important sources are citrus fruits like orange, grapefruit, tangerines, strawberries, bell peppers, cauliflower, guava, tomatoes.

Vitamin D

Food sources are mushrooms, egg yolk, fortified milk and cereals.

Vitamin E

Present in green leafy vegetables, broccoli, nuts and seeds, avocado, whole grains.

Zinc and magnesium

Found in seafood, legumes, leafy greens, sesame seeds, tofu.

Selenium

Present in Brazil nuts, salmon, tuna, eggs.

Besides these micronutrients, few other herbs and supplements that have known immune boosting properties are garlic, milk thistle, astragalus, elderberry, echinacea, ginseng.

Another important category is that of Probiotics like yogurt, buttermilk, khimchi, sauerkraut, fermented vegetables.

Special consideration needs to be given to infants, elderly, immuno-compromised patients (those having cancer, transplant patients), those with chronic medical conditions (diabetes, breathing disorders) as their nutritional requirements are different and more specific.

A word of caution here regarding overconsumption of vitamins in form of supplements. You don’t need a supplement unless you are deficient in a specific vitamin but due to so much misinformation floating around, people are popping in unnecessary and potentially hazardous doses of vitamins. These extremely high doses can cause various side effects including headaches, nausea, dizziness and more alarming consequences like liver or kidney damage and even death.

During this Covid-19 pandemic, we need to be wise and not get influenced by the various questionable medical concoctions, home remedies and trendy synthetic supplements that claim to boost our immunity. It is advisable to rely on proper nutrition, adequate sleep, optimum physical activity, reduced stress levels to support a happy immune system.

About The Author

Binti Jhuraney

BDS(Pune) MD-Alternative Medicine (Calcutta University) is a dentist running her private practice along with her Orthodontist husband in South Delhi for more t.... Read More..

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