The covid -19 vaccine is out and whether you get vaccinated with Covaxin or Covidsheild without optimal nutrition the vaccine may not be as effective. The pandemic has made us all reflect on our physical, mental health and nutrition where we focused on eating homemade nutritious meals and traditional immunity-boosting remedies to keep ourselves healthy. We must continue to follow the healthy lifestyle that we followed pre-vaccination more importantly post the vaccination.
Just like the vaccine, our body has its own innate immunity and these nutrients, when consumed in the right amount through food, will help us fight through these stuff times between our two vaccine shots and also help to decrease the side effects of the vaccination.
Proteins: Proteins are a part of antibodies and support immune system cells or attack viruses, bacteria or other foreign substances in your body. They are found in milk, cheese, cottage cheese(paneer), curd, pulses, sprouts, eggs, chicken and fish. The animal sources, however, contain high biological value proteins meaning better quality proteins as compared to the vegetarian sources.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C one of the best-known immune-supporting vitamins, it contains antioxidants that increase infection fighting white blood cells and antibodies that prevent the entry of viruses. It is found in most citrus fruits like oranges, lime (richest source being Amla) and juice, strawberries, bell peppers and dark green leafy vegetables like fenugreek leaves (methi) and spinach.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A supports the immune system by increasing the infection-fighting cells, natural killer cells and helper T-cells while decreasing the number of free radicals in the body. It is found in milk, eggs, carrots, bell peppers, oranges, peaches, tomatoes and dark green leafy vegetables.
Zinc: Zinc deficiency adversely affects the growth and function of immune fighting cells. The ability of zinc to function as an anti-oxidant has its role in the prevention of injury during inflammatory processes. Richest sources of Zinc are nuts and oilseeds especially sesame seeds and pulses.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids boost immune function by increasing phagocyte (white blood cells that destroy bacteria) activity. They also protect the body against damage from inflammation due to infection. The foods containing omega-3 fatty acids include fish/fish oil, flaxseed/flaxseed oil, walnuts and canola, soyabean oil, sesame seeds and almonds.
Probiotics: Research shows that eating foods containing certain types of good bacteria, also known as probiotics, may improve the function of the immune system and help reduce the risk of certain types of common infections. A probiotic is a live food ingredient that, when eaten in sufficient amounts benefit the digestive as well as the immune system. Probiotics can be found in a variety of fermented foods, including yoghurt, cheese and curd.
It is important to understand that Supplements do not replace food. Through a healthy diet consisting of adequate amounts of cereals, pulses, fruits and vegetables we can consume all of the necessary vitamins and minerals that have multiple benefits. However, you may resort to supplementation under the guidance of a physician or a certified dietician if required.
(The writer is a Clinical Nutritionist & Founder of Healthy Palate Clinic)