COVID-19 outbreak demands healthier and fitter versions of you and a healthy lifestyle can help achieve that. While no foods or dietary supplements can prevent or cure COVID-19 infection, a healthy lifestyle is important for enhancing your immune system. This is because a strong immunity is needed to fight against the deadly coronavirus infection.
In order to lead a healthy life, you need to start with a well-balanced diet. Having said that, you need to include a variety of foods in your diet. Base your diet on plenty of foods rich in carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fibers. There are several natural foods that are beneficial in boosting your immune system. All you need to do is look at your kitchen for these natural immunity boosters:
1. Ginger (fresh)
How to take: Add it to your cup of tea or kadha or just have 1-2 pieces of fresh ginger.
How to take: Add 1 tsp of turmeric to 1 cup of hot milk. Have it before going to bed at night.
How to take: Add 1-2 cloves of garlic to 1 glass of boiling water or take it with warm water at bedtime.
How to take: Take a few fresh tulsi leaves and add to your daily cup of tea or kadha. You can also have fresh tulsi leaves as the first thing in the morning.
5. Vitamin C
Increase the intake of fruits and vegetables like amla, guava, raw capsicum, and tomatoes that are rich in vitamin C.
Zinc also helps in boosting immunity and is abundantly found in cocoa, groundnuts, cashew & sesame seeds.
7. Omega-3 fatty acids
This class of fatty acid is essential to build strong immunity and are found mainly in fish, walnuts, and flax seeds.
Apart from the above-mentioned home remedies, you can follow some dietary changes (recommended by Ayush Ministry) to improve your immunity and stay healthy during COVID-19 outbreak:
– Warm water: Drink sufficient warm water along with or without meals throughout the day.
– Steam inhalation: This is one of the best remedies for upper respiratory tract infections. Inhale steam with fresh Pudina (Mint) leaves or Ajwain (Carom seeds), once in a day.
– Clove: Mix Lavang (Clove) powder with honey and take it 2-3 times a day.
– Golden milk: Take ½ teaspoon Haldi (turmeric) powder in 1 glass (150 ml) of hot milk. Drink this Golden Milk once or twice a day to enhance immunity.
– Chyawanprash: This is one of the most common home remedies to boost immunity. Take 1 teaspoon of Chyawanprash (10gm) in the morning.
– Kadha: Make herbal kadha using fresh tulsi leaves, ginger, cinnamon and a pinch of black pepper. Boil them in a glass of water for 2-3 minutes. You can add jaggery to enhance taste. Drink this herbal tea/decoction (Kadha) once or twice a day.
– Keep a check on your sugar and salt intake: Some people tend to binge sugary food during the times of stress, this can add a lot of calories to your diet. Take only the required amount of sugar and salt by reading the food labels carefully. If you have high blood pressure, avoid using table salt over salads, fruits, etc.
– Stay hydrated: Drinking up to 6-8 glasses of water can greatly help your immune system. It also helps in maintaining your weight.
– Limit alcohol consumption: Some people may turn towards alcohol consumption to cope up with stress. But, alcohol has negligible nutritional value and may lead to other health problems.
– Say no to smoking: Smoking is bad for your overall health, especially during the times of COVID-19. The available evidence from WHO suggests that smoking is associated with increased severity of disease and death in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. WHO, hence recommends all tobacco users stop using tobacco during these times. People trying to quit smoking can resort to interventions such as mobile text-messaging cessation programmes, nicotine replacement therapies and other approved medications.
Another important factor to keep in mind is food safety during this COVID-19 crisis.
Due to COVID-19, food safety has become more important than ever. COVID-19 is a respiratory virus and is not a food-borne disease. Moreover, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is killed above 70 degrees and hence is unlikely to survive in cooked food. However, you must still keep food safety in mind by practicing the following recommendations by WHO:
1. Keep your kitchen and surroundings clean while cooking. Cover your food to protect from insects, pests and other animals.
2. Handle raw food items like raw meat, fish separately and properly. Use separate equipment and utensils such as knives and cutting boards for handling raw foods and keep them away from cooked foods.
3. Cook your food thoroughly especially meat, poultry, eggs and seafood.
4. Always drink pasteurized milk after proper boiling. Make sure to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, especially if eaten raw.
5. Drink clean and filtered water only and not tap water.
6. Storage of food at proper conditions and temperature is essential. Follow the following guidelines for storing food:
– Do not leave cooked food at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
– Refrigerate promptly all cooked and perishable food (preferably below 5°C).
– Keep cooked food piping hot (more than 60°C) prior to serving.
– Do not store food for many days even in the refrigerator.
– Do not thaw frozen food at room temperature.
Some other tips to stay healthy during COVID-19 outbreak:
1. Soak up some sun: Vitamin D is a great source when it comes to charging your immune system.
2. Sleep well: it is important to sleep for at least 7-8 hours daily in order to keep your immune system in check.
3. Beat the stress: Stress can promote the release of free radicals, which in turn can lower your immunity. Yoga and meditation can be good means of relaxation and strengthening immunity.
4. Maintain hygiene: Wash your hands at regular intervals for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to keep germs at bay.
5. Workout: Working out or exercising for at least 30 minutes a day can help boost your immune system by improving your circulation. It was also found in a study that exercise slows down the release of stress hormones. Lower stress hormones reduce the chance of falling sick. Some of the exercises which you can do to improve your immune system are:
– Taking daily 20 to 30-minute walks or light workout at home
– Aerobic exercise
– Playing your favorite sport
Lastly, keep a check on your mental well-being:
1. Have a routine: The importance of having a routine is so underrated. Routines tend to decrease stress and improve mental health. Sleep and wake up at the same time each day and do not skip your meals for a better routine.
2. Meditation & breathing exercises: To keep a check on your mental health you can practice meditation, try breathing exercises for relieving stress.
3. Divert your mind: Engage yourself in some kind of hobby or spend more time with your family.
4. Follow only authentic sources for COVID-19 information: It is advisable to stay away from internet and news channels that at times give misleading information and follow only government sites and trustworthy sources.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help fight against the diseases and help you remain fit and healthy during COVID-19 outbreak. But please be aware that apart from this, social distancing, hand washing, sanitizing, wearing masks and self-quarantine are essential. Also, talk to your healthcare provider if you have any concerns regarding your health.
Disclaimer: This initiative, which is bought to you by 1mg Technologies Pvt. Ltd. (“1mg”) and Lizol, a trademark owned by Reckitt Benckiser Inc (“RB”) is for public awareness only. This should not be considered to be a medical advice and/or a substitute to a physician’s advice. The views and opinions expressed by the participating physicians are their independent professional judgement in collaboration with 1mg. RB does not claim any responsibility for the accuracy of their views. Please ensure that you consult your physician for further clarity.
1. FAO. Maintaining a healthy diet during the COVID-19 pandemic. http://www.fao.org/3/ca8380en/ca8380en.pdf
2. Health.mil. COVID-19: lifestyle tips to stay healthy during the pandemic. https://health.mil/News/Articles/2020/05/22/COVID-19-lifestyle-tips-to-stay-healthy-during-the-pandemic
3. WHO. Five Keys to Safer Food Manual. https://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/consumer/manual_keys.pdf
4. MedlinePlus. Exercise and Immunity. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007165.htm
5. Harvard TH Chan. Social Well-being. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/india-center/social-well-being/
6. Harvard TH Chan. Physical Well-being. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/india-center/physical-well-being/
7. Harvard TH Chan. Mental Well-being. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/india-center/mental-well-being/
8. WHO. Five Keys to Safer Food. https://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/consumer/en/5keys_en.pdf?ua=1
9. WHO. Smoking and COVID-19. https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/smoking-and-covid-19