Kerala

The way to immunity through nutrition

Vegetables and fruits are the immunity boosters and hence should comprise half the plate every time. One fourth should be carbohydrates and one fourth, proteins.

Vegetables and fruits are the immunity boosters and hence should comprise half the plate every time. One fourth should be carbohydrates and one fourth, proteins.  

‘Wholesome nutrition by including all foods in the right proportion is crucial’

Health Minister K.K. Shylaja recently asked the public not to be complacent about COVID-19 considering the State’s success in reining in the disease and to concentrate on building immunity as it will be the most effective weapon against a virus with which the people would have to learn to live. But, how exactly does one build immunity?

Wholesome nutrition, by including all foods available in the right proportion, is crucial to boosting immunity, according to K.G. Sreelatha, State nutrition officer. A person’s daily intake of vegetables and fruits has to provide the necessary vitamins and minerals to build immunity. This would mean including at least 400 gm of vegetables and fruits in the daily diet. People do not have to include fancy fruits in their diet. It is best to eat what is available seasonally, Ms. Sreelatha says.

The break-up

While carbohydrates provide the body with fuel, proteins add to the body’s capacity to grow, repair and rejuvenate, and vegetables and fruits give the body the ability to fight back invasion.

Water intake

Enough water intake and exercise will keep the body ready to deal with any attack, according to nutritionists.

During the lockdown period, Mumtaz Khalid a former consultant nutritionist with the World Health Organisation, has been directing her patients through telemedicine on ways to get a balanced diet with what is available at home.

A gooseberry, ginger, and mint drink, all of which are easily available, gives the body a good mixture of vitamins and minerals.

Papaya is a rich source of beta carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. Watermelon has iron and vitamin A. Leafy vegetables are sources of vitamins and fibre. Parboiled rice has minerals like riboflavin and thymine.

Sprouts have proteins as well as vitamin E. Fats are important too, about 500 ml a month, which is about 15-20 ml a day, says Ms. Khalid.

In the absence of any of these components in food, the body’s functions gets compromised. Malnutrition is a major cause of low immunity and does not imply lack of food.

Even obese people can be malnourished, P.K. Sasidharan, former professor of internal medicine, Government Medical College, Kozhikode, says.

It is also important to remember that during lockdown and in its aftermath, when a person’s physical exertion is limited, food should be taken to fill only half the stomach, says Dr. Sasidharan.

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Printable version | Jul 9, 2020 9:09:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/the-way-to-immunity-through-nutrition/article31615772.ece

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