Almost everyone now has understood how valuable optimum health is— particularly a strong immune system— as the battle against COVID 19 intensifies. Aside from social (actually its more of physical) distancing and frequent hand washing, health advisories are focused on the importance of exercise and good eating habits to fight off this viral disease.
Having dinner with my family during the Enhanced Community Quarantine. We are having Salisbury Steak (made of lean ground round), air-fried potato wedges, and steam mixed vegetables.
LGUs have been distributing food support to COVID 19 affected families that includes rice, vegetables, canned goods, and some livestock (e.g. live chicken).But for those who have the capacity to provide for themselves, it seems that majority have preferred to stock up canned goods, processed foods, noodles and pastas as suggested by the empty shelves in the grocery stores.
Note that the high consumption of whole foods also help in maintaining overall health, that is preventing/improving non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, and diseases related to alcohol and smoking.
On the contrary, our best bet for home nutrition support is to go heavy on the consumption of whole foods. Whole foods are foods that undergo minimal processing or as little refinement as possible before consumption. Whole foods are naturally high in complex carbohydrates, fiber, quality protein, micronutrients, and other important food components such as prebiotics and polyphenols that help strengthen the immune system. Whole foods also contain high amounts of specific micronutrients that are known to support a fully functional immune system such as Vitamin A, C, E, D, selenium, zinc, and folate. Note that the high consumption of whole foods also help in maintaining overall health, that is preventing/improving non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, and diseases related to alcohol and smoking. The absence of the mentioned lifestyle diseases reduces chronic inflammation in the body and helps regulate the workload of the immune system. [With the recent death reports, age and NCDs complicates the symptoms of COVID19 infection]. Thus, a diet that is low in processed and refined foods and high in whole foods not only strengthens the immune system but also lowers the risk for and/or improves non-communicable diseases altogether.
So what then should you buy on your next grocery or market trip? Here are some examples of foods to consume on a regular basis to maximize intake of the mentioned nutrients:
Complex carbohydrates and fiber-rich foods: potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown/black rice, starchy and leafy vegetables
Lean protein foods: chicken, lean cuts of pork and beef, fish and seafoods, dried/canned beans and legumes
Vitamin C-rich foods: fruits such as papaya, guava, oranges, dalandan and frozen berries, vegetables such as malunggay, came tops, and bell peppers
Vitamin A-rich foods: vegetables such as carrots, squash, broccoli, spinach, fruits like mangoes, papaya and cantaloupe (melon). Eggs and dairy are also good sources of Vitamin A.
Vitamin E-rich foods: various nuts such as almonds and peanuts, sunflower seeds, margarines and vegetables oils
Vitamin D-rich foods: fatty fishes, fortified juices and dairy products. [may consider supplementation with guidance from a medical doctor].
Zinc-rich foods: whole grains and milk products, red meats, chickpeas, beans
A note on probiotics: The gut is one of the major area where immune system response occurs. Adding probiotic foods (such as yogurt, pickles, kimchi, kefir) to one’s diet can support the immune system by improving gut microbiota— “live organisms" that resides in the intestine— thereby stimulating a positive immune system response. Also the consumption of fruits and vegetables (i.e. prebiotics) benefits these live microorganisms hence, further improving gut micro-ecology.
Every person in our community has a role to play. We, the ordinary citizens, actually are the real frontlines in battling this war. Thus, it is our duty to keep ourselves healthy and strong to lessen the stress of our already exhausted medical professionals.
Keep safe and stay strong!