Food talk

A vitamin-rich fight against virus

Intake of food that boosts immunity is the key to remain healthy

A vitamin-rich fight against virus

 Pushpesh Pant

These days, we are busy stockpiling to avoid food scarcity due to coronavirus outbreak that has already crossed the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) numbers and claimed several lives across the globe. While keeping a stock of items is necessary, choosing items that help protect against infections is important too. We all know about cow urine panacea, but nothing can cure the pandemic overnight. It is important to stay healthy and eat foods that boost immunity and improve body’s natural defence mechanism. Experts are generously listing foods that have tested properties of keeping deadly microbes at a distance, but various misconceptions are also doing the rounds on social media, confusing people about what to eat and what not. Here are some tips on staying healthy. These will not only help people in the long run, but also help fight the virus while maintaining social distancing.

Antioxidants & anti-inflammatory agents

The first step to staying healthy is increasing resistance to infection, the key to which is intake of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables help combat cold. One should replace expensive items with easily accessible ones. Why go for blueberries when onion and garlic serve the same purpose? Similarly, rule out searching for salmon reared in the wild or avocados with protein-rich creamy flesh, as a tomato or one-half of a lime packs more Vitamin C than many citrus fruits. Vitamin C reinforces phagocytes and T cells that help combat infection. No wonder, it formed an indispensable part of the daily diet of Father of the Nation.

Goodness of home

Certain items will always be there at our home no matter what, milk being the foremost. Though homemade dahi has been upstaged by Greek yogurt, even today, a bowl of raita flavoured with garlic cloves and chopped onions can supply the daily dose of gut-cleaning digestive nourishment. Not to miss is the goddess of herbs such as tulsi. In Uttarakhand, the elderly suffering from chronic bronchitis were treated with black peppercorn-laced ginger and tulsi tea called marchwani to clear the congestion in the respiratory tract. Tulsi is a home remedy for fever, headache, sore throat and cough. It also improves digestion and helps treat respiratory ailments.

Adding taste

However healthy the food may be, when prescribed as medicine, it will eventually get monotonous and go amiss in daily diet. So, try new recipes from different regions, improvise and innovate. Rotate the ingredients. The whole idea is to nourish the body, detoxify it, reduce stress and derive joy in preparing and sharing the delicacies.

One can try amla murabba drained of excess syrup and chopped to add sweetness to sugarless desserts. Chutneys and thechas can be prepared with neem and methi that are normally avoided owing to their bitter taste. These are time-tested ingredients in the management of diabetes. Coronavirus is risky for those with pre-existing chronic ailments such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma. In old age, body requires adequate proteins to rebuild damaged tissues. Sprouts can be served in myriad forms, from kebab to koftas, to meet the requirements of the vegetarians. Dalia and sattu shouldn’t be underestimated. Try sattu-stuffed parathas or baked litti balls. Stop fretting about cholesterol count. A small amount of cold-pressed oil, not necessarily ultra virgin olive oil, is what the body needs to feel satiated.

Magic of nuts & spices

Nuts are a rich source of vitamin E, niacin and riboflavin. If you can’t lay your hands on walnuts and almonds, even cashewnuts will do. A teaspoon of seeds — melon, pumpkin or sunflower — whichever is within reach can be used. Coming to spices, turmeric trumps all infections. It is a store of curcumin that helps fight cough and cold, as well as energises weakened T cells. Combine it with rhizome ginger and treat yourself to a steaming cuppa to unblock nasal passages as well as dilute the mucous. To sweeten the brew, honey — another immunity booster — can be added as a multiplier.


Essentials

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Consume green/herbal tea to stay hydrated
  • Don’t add milk and sugar to it
  • Eat seasonally appropriate and locally grown fresh produce
  • Cook vegetables minimally but wash and clean them well
  • Don’t expect results in a blink
  • Share your immunity boosting recipes with others

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