Does your food choice increase immunity to fight Coronavirus?
What determines your immunity?
There is no straight forward answer to the above question. Even the scientific communities differ widely regarding this question. For example, Esther Landhuis writes on January 29, 2015, that “The findings, published January 15 in Cell, argue that life habits and experiences shape our body’s defences more than the DNA passed down from our parents.”
On the other hand, Science News, January 5, 2017, writes, “Nearly three-quarters of immune traits are influenced by genes, new research from King's College London reveals.” (Massimo Mangino, Mario Roederer, Margaret H. Beddall, Frank O. Nestle, Tim D. Spector. Innate and adaptive immune traits are differentially affected by genetic and environmental factors. Nature Communications, 2017; 8: 13850 DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS13850.
If immunity does not depend on genetics and depend only on environmental factors alone, then all people can be reorganized to behave and react uniformly. Hence, all people become physically and mentally similar which is impossible to imagine by a rational mind. So, the traditional idea that both internal factor (DNA) and external factors (environment) determine our immunity, behavioral attitude, intelligence, reaction function, etc. can not be ruled out by the findings of a single study.
What’re the suggestions of UNICEF?
According to UNICEF, The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak is toppling life and jobs of millions of families around the world. As schools and childcare centres getting closed, many parents are finding themselves locked at home for the most part of the day doing childcare, household chores, full-time work and other competing responsibilities. It is really the most challenging phase for humans in recorded history.
There is an utter disruption of supply-demand chains for goods and services due to panic buying and disruptions of supplies. For many people, job loss and sudden income fall are making things worse. Under such an unprecedented situation, many parents are trying to depend on ready meals and processed foods. This is again making the question of nutrition more complex. UNICEF suggests five ways to help feed your children a varied, nutritious diet that will support their growth and development so that our future will be hopeful.
Keep up fruit and vegetable intake.
Swap in healthy dried or canned alternatives when fresh produce is not available.
·Build up a stock of healthy snacks.
·Limit highly processed foods.
·Make cooking and eating fun and meaningful part of your family routine.
In addition, UNICEF has given the following advice.
General Food Hygiene Tips
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before preparing any food.
User separate chopping boards to prepare uncooked meat and fish.
Cook food to the recommended temperature.
Where possible, keep perishable items refrigerated or frozen, and pay attention to product expiry dates.
Aim to recycle or dispose of food waste and packaging in an appropriate and sanitary manner, avoiding the build-up of refuse which could attract pests.
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before eating and make sure your children do the same.
Always use clean utensils and plates.
What foods and vitamins increase our immunity?
There is no doubt that a healthy immune system can be build up by appropriate food habits. As rightly remarked by Katie Ussin, there are some foods which supply us the required vitamins and nutrients that strengthen our immune system.
The word ‘substitute’ should not be taken literally with regard to foods and nutrition, even if it has relevance still in an elementary economics textbook. Almighty Nature has given birth to numerous foods and vegetables depending on soil, nature and climate. This suggests that every food is unique. So, the food habits of humans living in different regions of the world are hugely different.
The most important vitamin that helps our body in many respects is Vitamin C. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid and ascorbate, is a vitamin found in various fruits. It is used to prevent and treat scurvy. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient involved in the repair of tissue and the enzymatic production of certain neurotransmitters. It is required for the functioning of several enzymes and is extremely important for our immune system. It also functions as an antioxidant for our body.
Vitamin C is easily available in many fruits and vegetables everywhere in the world. The cheapest of these fruits is the common lemon. There are many other foods such as citrus fruits, kiwifruit, guava, broccoli, orange, grapefruit, strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers and strawberries which contain huge amount of the vitamin. Prolonged storage or hot cooking may reduce vitamin C content in the foods. So, the fruits are the better choices. The most important fact is that our body does not store vitamin C. So, eating some of these fruits on daily basis is absolutely necessary. Heavy intake of Vitamin C causes gastrointestinal distress, headache, sleeping trouble and reddening of the skin.
Vitamin B6 is the next important item which increases our immunity. This vitamin is available in plenty in foods like chicken, salmon, tuna, sweet potatoes, and bananas.
Vitamin E is another important immunity booster. It is available in huge amount in food items like almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, spinach, and broccoli. In addition, vegetable oils such as wheat grains, sunflower, safflower and soybean oils also contain Vitamin E.
Zinc plays a very important role in boosting our immunity. It is available in plenty in oysters, red meat, beans, nuts, whole grains and fortified cereals.
Dietary fibre is one of the most important nutrients for proper maintenance of our digestive system and waste management of the body. Most people suffer from bad waste management. They suffer from Constipation, Colitis, Irritable bowel syndrome etc.
If waste management of the body is not smooth and perfect, many diseases develop over time, and the skin quality also gets affected. Therefore, foods containing adequate dietary fibres have to be eaten. The general recommended intake of dietary fibre is 28 grams per person per day, with variations depending on age, gender and body constitution.
The trouble is that most people in the developing world eat huge foods but they are not guided about the nutrition contents of the foods. Foods containing dietary fibre are Brussels sprouts, asparagus, green peas, carrots, cauliflower, avocados, apple, strawberries, banana, raspberries, peanuts, seeds, almonds, walnuts, soybeans, lentils, barley, oats, prunes and popcorns.
The direct health benefits of dietary fibre include reduced blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and a decreased risk for stroke, diabetes, and various gastrointestinal diseases.