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Functional Nutrition & Covid 19

The second wave of COVID-19 has hit India quite strongly and unfortunately, most of us have experienced a lot of personal pain and helplessness. While we feel powerless on several issues, I have decided to focus on things that are under our control and give us hope to fight this pandemic. Over the coming days, I will use Nutranourish to provide some of the tools everyone can use to make their immune system more robust.

Science shows that nutrition and lifestyle play a critical role to support immune function. Scientific research has now shown that nutritional and/or metabolic stress is a worrisome contributor to a deficient immune system.

In India, the prevalence rate of obesity varies from 11.8% to 31.3% depending on age, gender, geographical environment & socioeconomic status. According to ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2020’ report, 14 percent of India’s population is undernourished. Being overweight or undernourished will put us at higher risk of worse outcomes from COVID-19.

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If we as a population are healthier (think: less obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, etc.), the evidence supports that we’d be faring much better throughout this pandemic. Hence, proper nutrition can help reduce viral infection incidence and severity by reducing inflammation, reducing oxidative stress, increasing antioxidant levels and harmonizing the gut microbiome and our immune system.

As ascribed to Hippocrates, Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

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Here are some changes we can make to boost our immune system:

  • Try to get at least 10 servings per day of a variety of types of colorful vegetables and fruits (eating the rainbow) for a wide array of phytonutrients for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory property. Put simply, eating a rainbow color diet will help improve your immune system. We should be mindful that we are including the seven colors of the rainbow in our diet daily.
  • Consume dietary fiber, a minimum of 28-35 grams daily, preferably from whole food like whole grains such as millet, brown rice, fruits, vegetables, legumes etc.
    Eat fermented foods like yoghurt, kanji and homemade pickles to maintain gut microbiome and gut barrier function.
  • Reduce or avoid immune offenders such as added sugars and salt, high glycemic foods like white rice, white bread, and potato including processed carbohydrates like chips, dalmot and excessive saturated fat in cakes, biscuits and vegetable oil.
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I would encourage everyone to look ahead and implement most of these changes as food and nutrition are inextricably linked to COVID-19 infection. It is not the time to despair, it is time to act and make these changes!

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“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”

― Jack Kerouac

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Dr Menka Gupta

IFMCP, MSc, MBBS

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