Healthy eating and lifestyle your best weapon against infection


Cebu City – As of 10 February 2020, there are a total of 18 admitted patients under investigation (PUI) and 1 confirmed case of the 2019 novel coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease, now officially named by the World Health Organization as COVID-19 in Central Visayas according to the Department of Health Central Visayas Center for Health Development.

This recent viral outbreak has brought panic and anxiety among Filipinos not only in Central Visayas but also in the entire country. The DOH, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other health experts are working hard to contain the virus and search for possible cure. However, we as individuals can contribute by preventing ourselves from acquiring this infection.

Viral infections are caused by the virus in the body. Depending on the type of virus and the person’s current state of health, various viruses can infect almost any type of body tissue from the brain to the skin. According to the Institute of Medicine, globalization has increased the spread of infectious diseases and is a threat to our immunity. One example is the COVID-19.

With the anxiety and panic that these reports have created, the National Nutrition Council Region VII thru Dr. Parolita A. Mission, Regional Nutrition Program Coordinator reminds the public to stay vigilant and practice healthy eating and lifestyle to help fight against common viral infections including this current coronavirus epidemic. Mission encourages the public to do the following:

A. Eat healthy

Consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Fruits and veggies are loaded with Vitamin C. This vitamin is one of the biggest immune system boosters of all. In fact, a lack of vitamin C can even make you more prone to getting sick. Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits like oranges, dalandan or “ukban” and lemon. They are also rich in folate (folic acid) and dietary fiber and other antioxidants. Green leafy vegetables like malunggay, camote tops, and alugbati are also good sources of dietary fiber, Vitamins A, C and K, and minerals such as iron and calcium that help boost our immune system along with fruits.

Load yourself with foods rich in Vitamin A. This immune boosting vitamin can be sourced from sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, spinach, red bell peppers, eggs, and vitamin A fortified foods like milk and cereals.

Include foods high in Vitamin E in your daily diet. This vitamin improves immune function by neutralizing free radicals. Vegetable oils, nuts such as peanuts, almonds, seeds and green leafy vegetables are rich source of this essential vitamin.

Do not forget Zinc. This mineral helps the immune system and wards off viruses. Zinc can be sourced from meats, shellfish, legumes like beans, seeds. nuts, dairy products, eggs and whole grains.

The WHO has also been reminding the public to be wary of raw food. It is therefore recommended to lessen the consumption raw or uncooked foods and avoiding crowded areas as much as possible to lessen the possibility of acquiring such infections.

B. Exercise and be physically active

Another healthy reminder is to exercise and be physically active. Exercise and physical activities help maintain the ideal body weight as well as reduces blood sugar and cholesterol level. At least 30 minutes of exercise or an hour of physical activity is recommended daily.

C. Keep hydrated

Keeping our body hydrated is one very essential reminder to fight against infections. Fluids in the body needs to be constantly replenished to keep your tissues healthy. So, don’t forget to bring your bottle of water for your daily eight (8) glasses of water.

D. A good rest is a must

Healthy diet and regular exercise partnered with a well-rested body does not only strengthen the immunity but also improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases including viral infections. Therefore, remember to have eight hours of sleep every day.

Supporting these tips, the National Nutrition Council released three (3) nutrition tips to boost the immune system on 10 February 2020. This includes having a balanced diet and practice of proper hygiene by washing your hands for 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. As much as possible, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands as viruses can enter your body this way and make you sick.

To date, vast number of viral infections cannot be treated with typical antibiotic. In fact, most human viral infections can be effectively fought by the body’s own immune system. Thus, strengthening our immune system should be our steppingstone towards prevention. Because prevention is a lot less costly than cure. (JB/PR)

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