Local farms, small gardens see boost in interest, funding to tackle hunger

Local farms, small gardens see boost in interest, funding to tackle hunger

  • September 29, 2020

Bueno Para Todos, a small farm in Villanueva, began 2020 with a hoop house and four planted areas enclosed in wooden frames raised above the ground. A few chokecherry and apricot trees planted years ago had taken root along the sun-soaked valley floor.

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, throwing people out of work and wiping grocery store shelves bare.

Six months later, the pandemic’s imprint on the small farm in the Pecos river valley of central New Mexico is easy to see. 

Twelve raised planting beds and three-quarters of an acre of newly planted plum, cherry, nectarine, and apricot trees grow alongside a waffle garden, a Zuni farming technique, of corn, beans, squash, onions, zucchini, tomatoes, and herb.

A rain catchment and drip irrigation system is coming soon.

COVID-19 has turned the world upside down, but one overlooked positive might be a rise in interest in gardening and local farms becoming a source for helping to feed a growing population of New Mexicans whose next meal is not guaranteed. Emergency grant money has flowed to small farms like Bueno Para Todos, and other projects, helping them grow as they respond to a crisis of unemployment and food shortages.


Food Insecurity In New Mexico

Before COVID-19 hit, New Mexico had one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the nation. That has risen since March with higher unemployment, school closures, and shortages of some food-items. Measuring the increase in food insecurity to date is guesswork, but Feeding America projects one in five New Mexicans, and one in three children, might not know where their next meal comes from. This story is part of a three-story series New Mexico In Depth is publishing that explores various ways New Mexicans have responded to the food insecurity crisis. 

Stories in the series:

·      Local farms, small gardens see boost in interest, funding to tackle hunger

·      Schools revamp meal programs during COVID-19 to curb childhood hunger, with potential to fix long-term problems

·      Mutual aid groups rushed to the rescue during COVID-19


Accompanying the growth in farm production is a newfound curiosity among New Mexicans about food and where it comes from, and a desire not to be caught by surprise again. Would-be gardeners are clamoring to win free backyard gardening kits. Plant seedling sales soared. Organizations and government agencies are connecting farmers with people in need, and making high-quality food, like fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable, or even free.  

“People, with good reason, got freaked out seeing grocery store shelves empty, and the supply chains were just so disrupted that even the food banks had some funny weeks — like, ‘All we have are these three things, because this truck didn’t come,’” Juliana Ciano, program director at Reunity Resources, a community farm and composting center in Santa Fe, said. “It resolved quickly, but it’s very alarming to see how many steps it takes to get the food from here to there, and it really inspired a lot of people to commit to their local farms.”

At Bueno Para Todos, people can pick what they want and pay what they can, with either money or by helping tend the farm. The farm’s offerings this year would supplement a family’s needs, but the farm’s co-founder, Yvonne Sandoval, hopes to someday feed multiple families, maybe as many as 100. Small grants from the Santa Fe Community Foundation and NewMexicoWomen.org allowed for speeding through two years of work this summer, she added: “For other organizations, it’s chump change, but for us, because we’re a volunteer organization living in a rural community, that $1,000 goes a long way.”

Before the pandemic, many families in New Mexico were struggling to put enough food on the table. 

“The reality is, the system wasn’t working for so many people,” Sandoval said. “So many people have been on the edge for so long.”

Local food boost

The pandemic hit early enough in the spring for farmers to invest upfront on the wager that even as demand dropped from restaurants and other traditional customers more New Mexicans would need the food, already did need that food, said Ciano. 

They were right. 

The New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association works with the state to “double up” the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps. If spent on New Mexico-grown produce or plant starts, the state picks up half the bill, so a $20 bag of vegetables costs a SNAP user just $10. 

After the state increased SNAP benefits and made it easier to apply for them, spending through that program roughly doubled, said Sarah Grant, co-founder of the New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association. 

The farmers marketing association raised $400,000 to get food from local farms to families and support local farmers. The money was divvied up between roughly 70 farmers, who received up to $1,000 each to purchase personal protective gear, or build a hoop house or a stand to sell food to nearby residents, and about 50 groups, including Santa Fe-based Reunity Resources, the Santa Fe Indian School, the San Ildefonso Pueblo, and Seeded Sisters in Jemez Pueblo. The groups distributed produce to new parents or to families with school children now missing out on free meals from schools. They also delivered food boxes to pueblos closed because of the pandemic. 

“The Farmers Marketing Association is trying to publicize what has happened, so hopefully, people will go, ‘Oh wow, that was really important, we’ve got to see if we can make that happen again,’” Grant said.

Reunity Resources used its share of the money from the farmers association and other funding to purchase early-season produce, bulk goods through restaurant distributors, and pay for employee time to prepare and freeze meals in then-closed restaurant kitchens. Communities in Schools of New Mexico, the local branch of a national nonprofit that provides services for students, then found 300 families to receive four pre-made frozen meals distributed each week for the first three months of the pandemic.

“They were delivering food and hygiene supplies to these families already and we were just able to add on the idea of having a strong immune system, and eating well in the face of a public health crisis is super important,” said Ciano. 

Neighborhood volunteers help out in the field at Reunity Farm on a Saturday morning. Photo by Gabriella Marks.

The approach worked particularly well with early-season produce, which can often stump home cooks, Ciano said, — “So knowing something was tasty, and it already has spinach and chard and beets cut up and roasted in it, so it’s not, ‘What is this? This is a job for me.’”

When summer produce came into season and restaurants reopened, Reunity worked with other farms to fill vegetables food boxes distributed by other organizations, often packed with staples from The Food Depot, northern New Mexico’s food bank. Those boxes went to more than 300 families each week.

Government agencies stepped up too, directly purchasing and distributing food from farmers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture purchased up to $4 billion across the nation in fresh produce, dairy products, and meat that was then boxed and delivered to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and nonprofits. The New Mexico Department of Agriculture pooled contact information for farmers and ranchers so people looking for locally produced food could easily find them, and helped farmers adjust from bulk distribution to packaging for a family of four. They were also able to identify when closed tribal communities were cut off from grocery stores, and almost overnight assembled a truckload of food to distribute at five locations in the Navajo Nation and at pueblos.

“There’s a lot of different efforts going on that aren’t necessarily official programs,” said Kristy Garcia, director of public affairs for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. “A lot of people came together to help get food to food insecure people in the pandemic, and quickly. It wasn’t ‘How can we do this next month?’ It was, ‘How can we do this tomorrow — have food in their pantries and on their tables tomorrow?’”

But it wasn’t just government agencies, SNAP dollars and nonprofit groups spurring more local food in New Mexico kitchens. 

Farmers every year sell seedlings to boost their early season income. Ric Gaudet, who runs One Straw Farm on six acres near Velarde, said he sold a bumper crop of them this year. Buyers expressed concerns about an economic or food system collapse. The attitude, he recalled, was, “Our world may be falling apart, so we need to start growing our own food, and also we’ve got a lot of spare time on our hands, so let’s plant a garden.”

He estimated they sold tens of thousands of seedlings of about 30 different vegetable types, including tomatoes, sweet peppers, chiles, squash, cucumbers, eggplants, greens, cabbage, bok choy, and herbs.

“From a flat of vegetable starts, you can have a fair amount of your fresh produce,” Gaudet said. “I’m not sure if you encourage everybody to grow their own vegetable gardens, that’s going to solve food insecurity, but it’s one small piece of the puzzle.”

Food is Free Albuquerque is known for “gleaning” excess produce and fruit from trees and gardens of area residents and donating to food banks and kitchens, but this spring they became known for something else. They assembled about 100 raised bed gardening kits that included soil and seeds, and about 10,000 people signed up for a lottery to win one, said Erin Garrison, executive director. They went on to distribute thousands of seeds and about 10,000 plants this year, including close to 7,000 tomato plants.

“If you figure each tomato plant has the potential to yield 10 pounds of fruit, that’s the potential for 70,000 pounds of food put out into the community,” Garrison said.

Time, space and water constrain local food, but there are other benefits

The food system is like the power grid. People get electricity from large, distant power plants delivered over transmission lines that traverse regional landscapes. Most food comes from far-away, large farms delivered via ship, train and truck. 

Some argue a more sustainable and efficient approach to generating electricity for homes would be through small-scale systems close to where power is used, avoiding transmission loss and detrimental environmental effects of large-scale energy projects. 

Similarly, when it comes to food, fresher and healthier choices would come from smaller scale production closer to home. The shift would decrease the use of fossil fuels, cut pesticide use, grow food in ways that can absorb harmful greenhouse gases, and potentially pay farm workers a living wage, contends Denise Miller, executive director of the Farmers Marketing Association. 

Creating waffle gardens at Bueno Para Todos. Courtesy of BPT social media.

But feeding New Mexicans entirely with local food, or even filling its hunger gap, would require overcoming big barriers. 

Such a shift would require more people in every community to plant their own garden or farm, and not everyone wants to or has the time to be so directly involved. Much easier to flip on a light switch and not think about it; so, too, is it easier to simply browse the grocery aisles, fill a cart, and take it home.

“If you take on this work, that means you have to be rooted in the work,” said Sandoval, in Villanueva, who also works a full-time job as a therapist. “And I haven’t been rooted in this work until COVID. I’ve been driving 12 to 16 hours a week, participating in my art collective and having offices in Las Vegas and Albuquerque. … Now, I’m allowed to be home and to really be in relationship with the land.”

Other factors constrain a local food system from fully providing enough food. 

People who want to farm don’t always have land, and people who have land don’t always want to be farmers or raise their kids to be, as the average national age of farmers — 57 — suggests. And in New Mexico, limited water constrains how much produce can be grown in-state, no matter how motivated a community might be. 

There are also vagaries inherent in growing plants: weather, insects, disease outbreaks, foraging animals. Nothing, from whether seeds sprout to the number of tomatoes a plant produces, is a guarantee. Some gardeners find it makes more financial sense to buy from local farmers, who have economies of scale working in their favor.

But those who have invested in farms say there are other benefits. Time spent growing builds appreciation and understanding for food and empathy for those who tend farms, Grant said: “If everybody would grow their food — even if one in five people were growing their own food, we would be living in a different world.”

Sandoval pointed to the resilience of a local food system: Some elders who lived in Villanueva through the Great Depression told her they didn’t even notice it, they just kept trading goods amongst themselves. 

Reviving that practice, as well as ancestral farming techniques suited to the arid landscapes of New Mexico, reclaims some of what was lost to colonialism. And there’s a mental health benefit and a sense of community built from time spent outdoors. 

“In places where people have been really divided, food becomes this beautiful bridge, and there’s so much magic in that, so much healing in that,” Sandoval said. “Who knew a cucumber or a carrot could help with that?”

The Reader

Build the Wall – The Reader

  • September 28, 2020

Build the Wall

by Michael Braunstein

Okay, the immune system isn’t really like a wall. It’s not designed to be impervious. It’s more like a moat. With a moat, you know intruders are going to breach. It’s just that you want them to be susceptible to the real defenders when they do get inside. But honestly, would you find the headline, “Dig the Moat,” as compelling?

Season of the witch. You probably noticed. Change is in the wind. It’s a moment to moment thing with time. Time changes all the time. Has to do with the temporal world. But sometimes change is more dramatic than other times. Autumn is one of those. The worldly wobble of the planet plunges us into a colder clime, less sun, more darkness. And humans, being of Nature and not apart from her, respond. Our bodies need to accept and modulate with the slower frequencies of the winter months. If we neglect that adaptation, we may struggle.

Pay Attention. Like the mynah birds in Aldous Huxley’s penultimate novel, Island, remind us, living in the moment requires paying attention. This may well be the first step in keeping in step with Nature as the season modifies. Picking our nose up out of our iPhone, off the news channel, social media and the ever-closing circle of influences can result in paying better attention to our own energy sequence and tuning it to the energy of Nature. To that end, a blank mind serves best. Paying attention is not a dear price at all. It is slim pickin’s given the reward it offers. The mind of Nature speaks only as loud as our willingness to listen and that will take us a long way down the road of synchronization with the planetary forces at play as time shifts. Clear the mind. Make way for inspiration and internal guidance. One cannot dance unless one is quiet enough to hear the music.

Resistance is futile. “Nature always wins,” the old saw says. That’s why resistance is a dangerous game to play with her. Take heart, though. Even if the season change is abrupt, maybe harsh, there is salvation in preparation. If we pay attention to our bodies and not to our “smart watch,” we can sense what needs be done to thrive in the winter and emerge in the spring with new awareness. And though a clever headline, building a wall to keep Nature at bay will fail. We must learn to work with, not against, Nature. As the season demands, there are ways to cope with change and keep the body secure for daily use. Here are some ideas that come to me.

Appetite for Construction. Okay with you if I steal a friend’s album title as a pun? As the season changes, a clear mind and releasing habitual behavior can allow the body to tell us what energy to bring into the body. Seasons have foods that resonate with the changes. Autumn foods should be allowed to appeal because they contain the energy frequency of the planet in its changing inclination. Naturally, for most folks now, that means having to relearn which foods are autumn foods. We have grown too used to any food, any time, at the store. Asparagus in November ain’t right, folks. Eat the foods the season brings. Summary: Eat autumn foods.

Sleep, perchance to…” You’ll want to get plenty of sleep. Why do people call these cool evenings, “good sleeping weather,”? Do it. Get a healthy amount of sleep. Go to bed shortly after the sun does. Sleep is what you should be doing through the night; not checking sports scores, email or Facebook on your bedside iPhone. Sleep. If you don’t, you’ll pay the price.

Water it. Sure, the weather change presents noticeable change in wind direction, temperature especially. An easily overlooked change is humidity. All of a sudden, the atmosphere is drier. That means we must consciously drink water to stay hydrated. The integrity of cell walls depends on many components and water is a big one. Summer tends to make us thirsty. In autumn, we need to “think to drink.”

De-stress. Stress kills. Enjoy life but keep the negative emotion out of it. Clearing the conscious mind is essential. Meditation is the key. Relaxing with a book, listening to a New Age “meditation” recording, watching a fun movie — all those are nice. But they are not meditation. And for my money, learning Transcendental Meditation is the choice that makes the difference. When you learn TM, you will know that you really learned how to meditate, no question about it. And it’s the most researched and respected meditation technique known.

In short. To summarize: Eat right; Sleep tight; Hydrate; Meditate. That kind of makes it simple, eh? These are not revelations; just reminders. Eat real food, (not processed or take out) and make it seasonal. Get plenty of sleep and maybe a power nap. Drink water, not sports drinks, etc. Destress with meditation. If done rightly, that is a simple path to a healthy immune system.

Bonus points. Some of us like to hedge our bets with supplemental vitamins and such. Here are some of my favorites.

Chinese medicine has an herbal preparation known as “Jade Screen.” It’s worth looking into.

Then there’s vitamin C. Linus Pauling published Vitamin C and the Common Cold in 1970. Can one take too much vitamin C? Pauling didn’t think so and he won two Nobel Prizes.

Vitamin D is a vital building block for the immune system defenders on this side of the moat waiting to repel intruders. But note, with vitamin D, more is not better. Follow the recommendation of an alert nutritionist healthcare professional.

Preemptive zinc supplementation is not a bad idea to me.

Native Americans knew the North American coneflower was a special plant. We know it as Echinacea. Boosts the immune system and definitely is something to learn more about.

In general, though, the basic Big Four give a foundation to the wall. Build it or dig it but do it.

Be well.

Heartland Healing is a metaphysically based polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and planet. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not medical advice. Important to remember and pass on to others: for a weekly dose of Heartland Healing, visit HeartlandHealing.com.
2020.09.29

How to boost your mood as the days get shorter on the way to winter

How to boost your mood as the days get shorter on the way to winter

  • September 28, 2020
How to boost your mood as the days get shorter on the way to winter (Photo: Shutterstock)

Some people may be keen to move on from the summer of 2020, but as the days get shorter you might find yourself feeling a little gloomier than normal.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a clinical depression that is bought on by the changing seasons. If you feel down in the winter months, it may be because of SAD.

Here are some tips on how to boost morale if the winter weather is affecting your mood.

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Let the light in

Although keeping the blinds down during the long summer days is advised to keep the sun out, in the winter it’s often best to keep them open.

Ensuring you have as much light entering your home as possible can have a positive impact on your mental health.

The NHS recommends lightboxes (that mimic sunlight), saying 30 minutes to an hour per day can be enough to make a difference.

Vitamin D

The lack of sunlight will mean a lack of vitamin D, so a good way to tackle the autumn and winter months is to top up on vitamin D supplements. Another way is to amend your diet to ensure you get enough.

The NHS advises that regular consumption of fruit, vegetables, milk and yoghurt will help boost your immune system.

Get outdoors

Ensuring you don’t stay inside too much is essential to coping with the winter months. Going on a walk, run or cycle, or even just going to stand outside can be really beneficial.

Keeping active in general can help you stave away the blues, and will allow you to keep your energy levels high and avoid winter tiredness.

Relocate your desk

If you’re working from home, you might want to think about moving your desk beside the window.

Considering most of your working day will be spent during the daylight hours, working next to a window will ensure you will not be kept away from the sun as you work away.

Light up your room

Lighting up your office space and bedroom can be a nice way to lift the mood. In the winter, it can be tempting to hide away in the warmth of your bedsheets, but that may not help your mental health.

Fill your room with as much light as possible. This will help you when you wake up during the dark mornings and help get your ready for the day.

Take inspiration from the Danes

Need some inspiration? Take it from the Danish and adopt the concept of ‘hygge’. It means perfecting the art of creating a warm atmosphere of cosiness through experiences. Danish anthropologist Jeppe Trolle Linnet says hygge can fit well into how people view the winter months.

He said, “Pay attention to each other, give each other quality time, relax together and leave some of the discipline of work and fitness aside.”

Those looking to test this out from themselves can try sitting by the fire in cosy pubs and carol singing with friends. Any activity will help as long as you’re doing it with people you love.

If you’re struggling during the winter months and need someone to talk to contact Samaritans on their 24/7 phone line on 116 123

Illustration of vitamins and supplements. TEMPO/Subekti

Proper Ways To Take Vitamins To Boost Immune System

  • September 28, 2020

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – During the transition period from dry to rainy season, the body’s immune system may decline, which possibly increases the risks of virus or bacteria infection.

Besides consuming nutritious foods, having enough rest, managing stress well, and carrying out regular exercise, taking multivitamin supplements also helps boost the immune system when needed.

A medical expert from pharmaceutical firm Combiphar, Carlinda Nekawaty, explained the best time to take vitamin supplements in order to get the maximum benefits.

According to her, vitamins should be consumed in the morning. “Because it requires energy metabolism for optimal absorption, and it usually rises in the morning,” said Carlinda on a Combiphar Health Desk webinar on September 28, 2020.

She does not recommend taking vitamins at night, especially before bedtime, as the body is already in a passive state. “It will accumulate in the body and will even be harmful,” Carlinda added.

In addition, supplements should be consumed after having meals. This, she claimed, will help foods and vitamins interact with each other. “Practically, all vitamins should be taken after eating so its absorption will be much better,” she said.

Taking vitamin supplements before meals, especially those rich in ascorbic acid such as vitamin C, will cause problems to people with gut issues, Carlina concluded.

Read: Pancaroba Seasonal Transition Period and Increased Risk of Viral Infections

SARAH ERVINA DARA SIYAHAILATUA

nasal spray treatment

Could nasal spray treatment against flu increase protection to COVID-19?

  • September 28, 2020

An Australian biotech company launched a nasal spray treatment aimed to boost the human immune system, which could consequently have remarkable effects in reducing COVID-19 tests.

A novel nasal spray treatment developed to boost the natural human immune system to fight common colds and flu has proved remarkably successful in reducing COVID-19 viral replication test results, released today, reveals.

Less COVID-19 tests thanks to a nasal spray treatment?

An Australian biotech company, Ena Respiratory, developed INNA-051, a novel nasal spray treatment which reduces viral replication by up to 96 per cent in a gold-standard animal study led by Public Health England’s (PHE) Deputy Director, Professor Miles Carroll and published today on biomedical pre-publication research site, bioRxiv. It is a synthetic small molecule and would be self-administered via an easy-to-use nasal spray, taken once or twice a week

This nasal spray compound works by stimulating the human immune system by boosting the immune response in this way with INNA-051 prior to infection, the ability of the COVID-19 virus to infect the animals and replicate was dramatically reduced the PHE study showed. In particular, the study provides evidence that INNA-051 can be used as a stand-alone method of antiviral preventative therapy, complementary to vaccine programs.

In the official press release, Ena Respiratory Managing Director, Dr Christophe Demaison reports: “We’ve been amazed at just how effective our treatment has been. By boosting the natural immune response of the ferrets with our treatment, we’ve seen a rapid eradication of the virus. If humans respond in a similar way, the benefits of treatment are two-fold. Individuals exposed to the virus would most likely rapidly eliminate it, with the treatment ensuring that the disease does not progress beyond mild symptoms. This is particularly relevant to vulnerable members of the community. In addition, the rapidity of this response means that the infected individuals are unlikely to pass it on, meaning a swift halt to community transmission.”

Could the nasal spray treatment be distributed worldwide?

The company is urgently seeking additional funding to accelerate the nasal spray’s clinical development and global distribution. Dr Chris Nave, CEO of the MRCF and co-founder of Brandon Capital, reports “We are doing all we can to support Ena Respiratory and its quest to secure additional investment to accelerate the development and testing of the therapy in humans. While a vaccine is ultimately the key solution to combatting COVID-19, governments need to be developing different treatment approaches to ensure they have a range of options, in the event that a vaccine proves elusive or takes longer to develop.”

On the other hand, Professor Roberto Solari a respiratory specialist, advisor to Ena Respiratory and visiting Professor at Imperial College London contributed to these statements by saying that “this is a significant development as the world races to find a solution to halt COVID-19 transmission and infection of at risk-populations. Most exciting is the ability of INNA-051 to significantly reduce virus levels in the nose and throat, giving hope that this therapy could reduce COVID-19 transmission by infected people, especially those who may be presymptomatic or asymptomatic and thus unaware they are infectious.”

This nasal spray treatment could offer real hope to those in the frontline fight against COVID-19, while the treatment offers significant potential to protect the most vulnerable, including those with pre-existing respiratory conditions and the elderly, where vaccines can be less effective.

FSSAI To Make Oils Including Vitamin A, D Mandatory to Boost Immunity, Good Health

FSSAI To Make Oils Including Vitamin A, D Mandatory to Boost Immunity, Good Health

  • September 28, 2020

Food regulator FSSAI is considering making it mandatory for edible oil manufacturers to fortify cooking oil with vitamins A and D, which help in boosting immunity amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Also Read – Feeling Better Now, Will be Out of Hospital Soon: Manish Sisodia

“FSSAI is considering to make it mandatory to fortify edible oil with vitamins A and D so that people of India can enjoy better immunity with good health,” FSSAI CEO Arun Singhal said. Also Read – World Heart Day 2020: Heart Disease Has Marginally Increased by 10 to 20% Compared to Pre-COVID

He was addressing a national webinar on edible oil fortification, organized by the Food Fortification Resource Centre (FFRC) under the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in association with Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), a statement said on Saturday. Also Read – Heart Disease in Teenagers Linked to Diabetes Exposure in Womb, Reveals Study

Fortification of edible oil will ensure that people belonging to different socio-economic strata have easy access to fortified edible oil across the country, Singhal said.

“India has a very high burden of malnutrition, including micronutrient deficiencies. A huge population in our country suffers from a deficiency of vitamins A and D. Lack of these vitamins in our body can have an adverse impact on morbidity, mortality, productivity, and economic growth,” the statement said.

Vitamins A and D strengthen the immune system, which is critical in times of COVID-19 pandemic, it added.

To facilitate the industry, Singhal said FFRC will also provide the necessary technical support required to enable the fortification of edible oil.

At present, 69 percent (7.94 million tonnes/annum edible oil) of packaged edible oil sold across pan-India is fortified, the statement said.

Tarun Vij, country director, GAIN, said, “The government’s mandate for scaling-up the process of edible oil fortification should go hand in hand with building capacities of the industry for producing quality assured edible oil fortified with vitamins A and D.”

Citing the example of Rajasthan, where fortification of edible oil is being done since 2011, Vij said there is a substantial reduction in vitamin A deficiency among children (10-19 years) in the state.

8 ways to boost your child's immunity this back-to-school season

8 ways to boost your child’s immunity this back-to-school season

  • September 28, 2020

Last week, schools across Turkey, which had been closed since March when the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic, officially opened their doors – albeit with new rules and at much more reduced capacities. Though going back in-person is a move contested by many health officials, both students and teachers have missed the interaction and opportunities offered by face-to-face education.

As part of the new shift system introduced to minimize overcrowding at schools but still preserve a sense of normality, preschoolers and first-grade students have been going to schools twice a week with reduced school hours. The country will move ahead with a planned return for other grades after evaluating the situation with the kids.

Coupled with the economic and organizational uncertainty and the worry of rising cases, parents have been frantically searching for ways to keep their children as healthy as possible in the event that they start socializing again at school. The most widespread mistake parents make that usually does more harm than good is feeding their kids all types of vitamins and supplements in the hope that it will boost their immune systems against colds, the flu and the now-infamous coronavirus.

Child Health and Diseases Specialist Dr. Çiğdem Yavrucu says doing so, and especially not under medical supervision, is dangerous. Using vitamins in healthy individuals, and in particular, children, that do not need supplements can cause vital problems in organ functioning.

“When excess amounts of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, K are taken, they may accumulate in some organs and negatively affect the functioning of those organs. Certain foods known to strengthen the immune system, such as elderberry, beta-glucan, ginger, and turmeric, and especially when consumed in uncontrolled amounts in supplement form, can even over-activate the immune system and lead to serious health problems,” said Yavrucu. She shared eight tips on how to boost children’s immune systems naturally this fall.

Eat your vitamins, naturally

It is essential to have a diet rich in protein, which is the building block for our tissues and body as a whole.

“To ensure your children are getting sufficient protein, try to eat fish at least twice a week, red meat twice or three times a week, and legumes such as beans, chickpeas and lentils two to three times a week. If they are not allergic, have them eat eggs, cheese and butter every morning,” Yavrucu said.

Encouraging them to eat fruits and vegetables that are in season to get vitamins naturally is also crucial. Oranges, tangerines or pomegranates are great sources of vitamin C and great to boost the immune system ahead of a tough winter.

Probiotics can also strengthen the immune system by keeping everything running smoothly, which should be consumed in the form of homemade yogurt, ayran or kefir, she said. Prebiotics such as bananas and asparagus are also good foods to add to children’s diets. Unlike probiotics, which are live bacteria found in fermented foods, prebiotics are types of dietary fiber that feed gut-friendly bacteria, so you will get the most benefit from having them both in your diet.

Nuts should also be a part of a healthy diet. Thanks to the vitamin E, zinc and omega 3 fatty acids they contain, walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts can help strengthen the immune system. Yavrucu recommends that children have a handful of nuts, roughly equal to two or three walnuts, five to 10 almonds, around five to eight cashews or pistachios, or eight to 10 hazelnuts every day.

Practice hygiene, wear masks

All germs, including the coronavirus, are easily transmitted as a result of poor hygiene and contact with other people or objects or via oral and nasal secretions. Children are also more likely to catch viruses from the constant touching of their mouths or noses. For this reason, before and after meals, parents should be teaching their kids to wash their hands with plenty of water and soap for at least 15-30 seconds and take a bath or shower every day after going outside, if possible.

Parents should set good examples by wearing a mask in crowded and closed environments and teach their kids to do the same. The only exception is for children under the age of 2, which can be dangerous as it may cause respiratory distress.

Don’t bundle them up

In cold weather, we have a tendency to wear the thickest, fluffiest and warmest clothes we own, but this could constitute problems. Instead of dressing them in a single piece of thick clothing, try to let them to layer one or two thin garments, which will both provide better insulation and adjustment to the temperature of the environment they are in. As for feet, cotton socks should be favored, not synthetic fabrics that cause sweating. Wearing scarves and beanies in the cold is also a good idea.

Have them drink plenty of water

Children often forget to drink water, so make sure you keep track of their intake and make frequent reminders. Drinking enough water helps regulate blood circulation, supports the metabolism and facilitates the elimination of harmful substances and toxins from the body. At the same time, being indoors with central heating decreases the humidity in the room, causing the respiratory tract to become dry and irritated, and hence increases the risk of upper respiratory tract infections. Yavrucu says you can reduce this risk by drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated.

Establish a sleeping schedule

“When children are tired and sleepless, their body resistance decreases, and they get sick very easily. Make sure your children get enough sleep to increase their ability to fight any diseases that might come their way. Make sure they go to bed at the same time every night,” Yavrucu said.

Don’t slack on sports

Being home-schooled may be causing children to become increasingly sedentary, so it is important to get them moving. Exercising and staying active also strengthens the immune system and increases body resistance against diseases. Yavrucu says the best way to get children to move is to choose sports that they will find fun and help them develop. Swimming and gymnastics are great to start early at 4-5 years old, while tennis or football are more appropriate for 7-8 years old and onwards, and water polo or Turkish favorites such as basketball or volleyball after 9-10 years old.

Keep rooms well-ventilated

Not only do closed and poorly ventilated environments mean germs stay trapped there for a long time, but they also constitute a risk for respiratory infections and can make people feel lightheaded or achy if not enough oxygen circulates in the room. Studies with the coronavirus have shown that getting fresh air and using fans decreases the chances of getting infected.

Get them vaccinated

Vaccines provide protective immunity for individuals as well as the general public. From tuberculosis (TB) and the measles, rubella, mumps (MMR) vaccine to chickenpox and more, school-age children in Turkey are required and encouraged to be vaccinated against these preventable diseases. With a tricky winter ahead with the coronavirus pandemic and flu season underway, being vaccinated is even more crucial, experts say.

Weekly nasal spray could offer protection from Covid-19 – study

Weekly nasal spray could offer protection from Covid-19 – study

  • September 28, 2020

A nasal spray given once or twice a week could offer protection against coronavirus, according to new research.

Human trials could start within four months after studies on ferrets, led by an expert from Public Health England (PHE), found the spray could reduce infection and prevent transmission.

The therapy, developed by Australian biotech company Ena Respiratory, was originally developed to boost the natural immune system to fight colds and flu.

But trials showed that INNA-051 could reduce Covid-19 replication by up to 96% after it managed to boost the immune response prior to infection.

The new research, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, is published on the research site, medRxiv.

Ena Respiratory managing director, Dr Christophe Demaison, said: “We’ve been amazed with just how effective our treatment has been.

“By boosting the natural immune response of the ferrets with our treatment, we’ve seen a rapid eradication of the virus.

“If humans respond in a similar way, the benefits of treatment are two-fold.

“Individuals exposed to the virus would most likely rapidly eliminate it, with the treatment ensuring that the disease does not progress beyond mild symptoms.

“This is particularly relevant to vulnerable members of the community.

“In addition, the rapidity of this response means that the infected individuals are unlikely to pass it on, meaning a swift halt to community transmission.”

The firm said if human trials prove successful and funding is secured, the therapy could be rapidly manufactured at scale.

Professor Roberto Solari a respiratory specialist advisor to Ena Respiratory and visiting professor at Imperial College London, said: “This is a significant development as the world races to find a solution to halt Covid-19 transmission and infection of at-risk populations.

“Most exciting is the ability of INNA-051 to significantly reduce virus levels in the nose and throat, giving hope that this therapy could reduce Covid-19 transmission by infected people, especially those who may be pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic and thus unaware they are infectious.”

Maharishi Ayurveda Bags Immunity Booster of the Year Award| APN News

Maharishi Ayurveda Bags Immunity Booster of the Year Award| APN News

  • September 28, 2020

Maharishi Ayurveda Bags Immunity Booster of the Year Award

Published on September 28, 2020

 In the face of unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and the health emergency created, it has become more important than ever to have a strong immune system, and more significantly to keep boosting it. As it is perceived – the immune system does an incredible job of protecting us against disease, but sometimes it fails, and we get sick. The idea of boosting your immune health is an enticing one and as per Ayurveda the role of Rasayanas, and in the modern world – it is super Rasayanas, have been pivotal in immunity boosting.

Considering the essence of having an optimally functioning immune system to safeguard against the disease is more important than ever. But how to strengthen immunity naturally through food and nutrition is a big question to ask? To unravel all these apprehensions, India Immunity e-Summit 2020 followed by the Immunity Champions of India Awards were organised by the HEAL Foundation wherein Maharishi Ayurveda bagged Immunity Booster of the Year Award.

The Immunity Booster of the Year Award has been conferred to honour the leaders of nutrition who have done some exemplary work in the field during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has helped boost immunity, thereby helping people to combat the pandemic. This award comes under the organisational category. The organisers had a distinguished panel of jury comprising experts of national and international repute from across the sectors, who have been recognised for their exemplary contribution to society. They had stringent shortlisting procedures in place and found that the role of Maharishi Amrit Kalash – a super Rasayana has been instrumental in boosting immunity, and hence the award.

Elated on winning the award, said, Mr Anand Shrivastava, Chairman, Maharishi Ayurveda, said,“Of course, we are overwhelmed on getting the award for recognising the efficacy of Rasayana – Amrit Kalash in boosting immunity and awarding it for the same is soothing for us. This is a sort of morale-booster. As per Ayurveda, Rasayana products have the characteristics to increase or decrease some aspect of the bodily processes to create the perfect balance. It can also work in a multi-directional manner to help the bodily processes regain stability and maintain it for the long-term. It has a vital impact on the immune system and the key to prevent any illness. Building immunity and giving a boost to our physical and mental wellbeing is of the utmost importance in these testing times.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has made us realised that how a strong immune system is one of the biggest advantages for humans. The strengthened immune system helps fight infections and reduce the risk of contracting highly contagious diseases. The immune system is responsible for fighting foreign invaders in the body, like pathogenic bacteria and viruses, and also destroy cells within the body when they become cancerous. Thus, the primacy of boosting immunity has increased manifold now.

Coronavirus UK: New nasal spray treatment causes 'rapid eradication'

Coronavirus UK: New nasal spray treatment causes ‘rapid eradication’

  • September 28, 2020
The treatment is a nasal spray administered once or twice a week and is intended to be used alongside a vaccine (Picture: Getty Images / iStockphoto)

A new nasal treatment developed to boost the natural human immune system to prevent the common cold has proved extremely successful in fighting coronavirus.

The treatment, which is a nasal spray administered once or twice a week, was found to reduce viral replication by up to 96% in research on animals published this morning.

The product is called INNA-051 and is being developed by Australian biotech company, Ena Respiratory, in collaboration with Public Health England.

Dr Christophe Demaison, Ena Respiratory managing director, said: ‘We’ve been amazed with just how effective our treatment has been.

‘By boosting the natural immune response of the ferrets with our treatment, we’ve seen a rapid eradication of the virus.’

‘If humans respond in a similar way, the benefits of treatment are two-fold. Individuals exposed to the virus would most likely rapidly eliminate it, with the treatment ensuring that the disease does not progress beyond mild symptoms.

‘This is particularly relevant to vulnerable members of the community. In addition, the rapidity of this response means that the infected individuals are unlikely to pass it on, meaning a swift halt to community transmission.’

The INNA-051 spray works by stimulating the innate immune system, the first line of defence against the invasion of pathogens into the body.

A diagram of how the spray is administered up the nose (Picture: Ena Respiratory)

By boosting the immune response prior to infection, the ability of Covid-19 to infect the ferrets in the study was dramatically reduced.

The study provides evidence that INNA-051 can be used as a stand-alone method of antiviral preventative therapy, complementary to vaccine programs.

Ena Respiratory has raised $11.7 million (Australian dollars) from investors and, subject to successful toxicity studies and regulatory approval, the company could be ready to test it on humans in less than four months.

Support in developing the new treatment has been led from the Australian Medical Research Commercialisation Fund, Australia’s largest life science investment fund.

The company is urgently seeking additional funding to accelerate the nasal spray’s development and distribution across the world.

The treatment was found to reduce viral replication by up to 96% in research on animals (Picture: Getty Images / iStockphoto)

Dr Chris Nave, chief executive of the fund, said: ‘We are doing all we can to support Ena Respiratory and its quest to secure additional investment to accelerate the development and testing of the therapy in humans.

‘While a vaccine is ultimately the key solution to combating Covid-19, governments need to be developing different treatment approaches to ensure they have a range of options, in the event that a vaccine proves elusive or takes longer to develop.’

INNA-051 was in development before the outbreak of Covid-19 to promote resistance towards broader respiratory viral epidemics.

Unlike vaccines which are targeted to a specific strain, this spray is designed to be effective for all types of respiratory infections.

Dr Chris Smith, Ena Respiratory board director, said: ‘Our nasal treatment has amazing potential for combating Covid-19 and future pandemics.

‘We know that vaccinations are often the most attractive approach in combating respiratory virus epidemics, but this method often comes with challenges as vaccines trigger a specific response in the adaptive immune system which might not be effective against future mutations of a virus.

‘INNA-051 utilises the non-specific innate immune response meaning it is effective against a broad spectrum of viruses.’

The authors of the study include scientists from Public Health England, Ena Respiratory, and leading Australian research organisations, the Hunter Medical Research Institute, Newcastle and the University of Melbourne.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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