Here are the top foods and vitamins which will boost your well-being during lockdown

Here are the top foods and vitamins which will boost your well-being during lockdown

  • January 21, 2021

WORKING from home, schooling your kids and being cooped up indoors takes its toll, leaving many of us reaching for junk food.

A study this week revealed that gorging on takeaways dramatically affects emotions, often making us irritable and angry. So soothe your mood by changing what you eat.

Sooth your lockdown stress by trying some of these healthy foods


Sooth your lockdown stress by trying some of these healthy foodsCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Nutritionist Charlotte Faure Green says: “This is not the time to beat yourself up about what you’re eating. But remember, a diet full of fruit and veg not only boosts mental health but will go a long way to supporting your immune system.”

Here, Charlotte shares her top 18 foods and vitamins to boost well-being in lockdown.

1. Bananas

Bananas are loaded with vitamin B6


Bananas are loaded with vitamin B6Credit: Getty Images – Getty

These are loaded with vitamin B6, which helps to build serotonin and dopamine – our happy brain chemicals.

They are also a great source of fibre, which goes to feeding our good gut bacteria.

Not only do they come in their own clever packaging but they are the perfect snack to give your brain a feel-good boost.

2. Vitamin D supplements

Vitamin D tablets are a great way to top up your vitamin levels


Vitamin D tablets are a great way to top up your vitamin levelsCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because we get it from exposure to the sun.

We live under a pretty grey sky in the UK during the winter so it’s fair to assume we’re not getting enough, and that in turn is linked to low moods.

A supplement is a great way to top up those levels and could offer just the boost you need.

3. Baked beans

Beans contain high levels of protein


Beans contain high levels of proteinCredit: Getty – Contributor

Beans are good for your heart, but also your brain.

They contain high levels of protein, including tryptophan, which acts as a mood elevator.

They also provide the B vitamins, making beans a bit of an all-in-one food for a good mood.

4. Coffee

Coffee may elevate levels of feel-good serotonin


Coffee may elevate levels of feel-good serotoninCredit: Getty Images – Getty

It is the most popular drink in the world. And studies show caffeine may elevate levels of feel-good serotonin and dopamine in the brain.

One decade-long study showed that women who drank coffee were less likely to become depressed. But be mindful that the mood-lifting success differs from person to person.

Try to drink it after food to slow down the stimulatory effect. And preferably before lunchtime.

5. Chips

Potatoes are full of mood-boosting nutrients including magnesium and vitamin C


Potatoes are full of mood-boosting nutrients including magnesium and vitamin CCredit: Photolibrary RM – Getty

Potatoes have a bad reputation they just don’t deserve. Our humble spud is one of the healthiest foods going, full of mood-boosting nutrients including magnesium and vitamin C.

Our brain needs carbs to function and create serotonin. Why not get all this goodness in the nation’s favourite form of potato – the chip?

Pair with protein and swap to sweet potato fries for extra brownie points (they contain a little more vitamin B6).

6. Omega-3 fish oil supplements

Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for brain health and managing our stress response


Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for brain health and managing our stress responseCredit: Photographers Choice – Getty

These unbeatable mood boosters are cheap and full of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, without the pong!

Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to be the only anti-inflammatory able to cross the blood–brain barrier into our grey matter. Fish oils are vital for brain health and managing our stress response.

Supplements are great if you’re not hitting the recommended two portions of oily fish per week.

7. Oats

Oats contain a special type of fibre called beta-glucan


Oats contain a special type of fibre called beta-glucanCredit: Getty – Contributor

You have probably heard about the health benefits of fibre. But not all fibres are created equal. Oats contain a special type of fibre called beta-glucan.

We eat these for our gut bacteria to use as fuel, to enable them to make our happy and calming brain chemicals.

Clever! A study showed people who ate oats at breakfast reported better mood and energy levels and less irritability.

8. Peanut butter

Peanut butter is an energy-boosting protein with healthy fats


Peanut butter is an energy-boosting protein with healthy fatsCredit: Corbis – Getty

An energy-boosting protein with healthy fats. A study completed in 2020 found that regular consumption of nuts and legumes was associated with a 66 per cent lower risk of anxiety.

This could be due to a special compound called p-coumaric acid which is associated with increasing brain levels of GABA, our calming neurotransmitter, to decrease stress.

Leaving only the argument: Smooth or crunchy?

9. Chocolate

Chocolate contains the building blocks of serotonin, and magnesium which reduces stress


Chocolate contains the building blocks of serotonin, and magnesium which reduces stressCredit: Getty Images – Getty

You want clinically proven permission to eat chocolate? You got it! A 2013 study in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology showed that chocolate has many different compounds that can give our mood a boost.

Dark chocolate in particular contains the building blocks of serotonin, and magnesium which reduces stress.

It also makes us release endorphins, much like we do when we exercise, which can also serve to reduce our stress levels.

10. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 contains many of the big hitters for good mood- building


Vitamin B12 contains many of the big hitters for good mood- buildingCredit: Getty Images – Getty

In an ideal world we would get all our nutrients for good health from the food we eat.

Vegans are often very low in vitamin B12, which is primarily found in animal products, and iron, which can be found in abundance in leafy greens.

This complex contains many of the big hitters for good mood- building, as an all-in-one capsule.

11. Berries

Berries contain antioxidants which are responsible for protecting our cells, particularly in the brain


Berries contain antioxidants which are responsible for protecting our cells, particularly in the brainCredit: Getty – Contributor

The lovely dark purple and red colouring of berries is due to all the antioxidants they contain, which are responsible for protecting our cells, particularly in the brain.

They also feed some of our most beneficial gut bacteria, essential for creating calming neurotransmitters and help manage inflammation in the brain associated with depression and other mood disorders.

12. Eggs

Eggs are high in vitamins B6 and B12


Eggs are high in vitamins B6 and B12Credit: Getty – Contributor

Eggs are a great source of protein. But also of choline, which is an essential micro- nutrient required in order for the brain to function properly and is associated with mood regulation.

Eggs are also high in vitamins B6 and B12, among countless other nutrients, that are vital for the production of our good mood chemicals.

13. St John’s Wort tablets

St    John’s Wort can treat low mood, anxiety and sleep problems


St    John’s Wort can treat low mood, anxiety and sleep problemsCredit: Getty Images – Getty

St    John’s Wort has long been used as an herbal remedy to relieve mild to moderate low mood, anxiety and sleep problems.

It is readily available over the counter, but this does not mean it is for everyone. Speak to a healthcare professional first.

St John’s Wort is known to interact with numerous medications, including reducing the effectiveness of the contraceptive pill.

14. Oranges

Oranges are rich in B and C vitamins


Oranges are rich in B and C vitaminsCredit: Getty – Contributor

Being poorly hydrated can mimic feelings of panic, so ensuring that you have lots of water-filled foods such as oranges can go a long way to improving mood.

Oranges are rich in those lovely B vitamins but also vitamin C, which we burn through at very high rates when stressed, making replenishing those stores very important.

15. Honey

Honey can help reduce brain inflammation


Honey can help reduce brain inflammationCredit: Getty – Contributor

We all know about using honey to fight colds and infections, but magical honey also contains tryptophan, the building block of serotonin, so it can help to boost your mood.

It is sweet like sugar, but honey does not release inflammatory free radicals in the same way refined sugar does and can actually help reduce brain inflammation.

16. Yoghurt

Yoghurt contains friendly gut bacteria


Yoghurt contains friendly gut bacteriaCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Pro- biotic foods, including yoghurt, contain friendly gut bacteria.

Many of our happy hormones and neurotransmitters are produced by the bacteria in the gut, so ensuring these are kept replenished every day gives our mood the best chance.

17. Salmon

Salmon can help increase circulating levels of serotonin


Salmon can help increase circulating levels of serotoninCredit: Getty – Contributor

Oily fish salmon makes up one letter of nifty acronym S.M.A.S.H.

Not the powdered potato you remember from childhood – it stands for Sardines, Mackerel, Anchovies, Salmon and Herring – all easily sourced fishes rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

They are brain protectors which help increase circulating levels of serotonin.

18. Wine

Research has linked moderate alcohol intake with a better mood


Research has linked moderate alcohol intake with a better moodCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Yes, we’ve saved the best till last. Research has linked moderate alcohol intake with a better mood, not to mention a longer life.

And red wine also provides tons of antioxidants that benefit your brain and heart. Having a small glass of red alongside dinner has been established as a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet, which is associated with a reduced risk of developing depressive symptoms.

But remembering that the health properties of wine may stop after a small amount is important.

Batch Lady’s recipe for Beef stroganoff

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We should all masturbate during Coronavirus lockdown to ‘boost our immune systems’ & ‘fight off infections’, docs say

We should all masturbate during Coronavirus lockdown to ‘boost our immune systems’ & ‘fight off infections’, docs say

  • November 13, 2020

EVERYONE might be starting to get a little fatigued of the changing coronavirus restrictions by now.

But with the country ordered back into a national lockdown, doctors are giving folk another reason to stay indoors.

 Doctor reveals that masturbation is the answer to boosting your immune system


Doctor reveals that masturbation is the answer to boosting your immune systemCredit: Alamy

Aside from obviously helping to stop the spread of coronavirus, enjoying some alone time at home could keep you healthy in other respects.

Dr Jennifer Landam, a specialist in hormone therapy, suggests that indulging in some self-love might be exactly what you need to strengthen your body’s natural defence forces.

Masturbation is known to boost your immune system and raise your white blood cell count – which in turn helps to fight infection in the body.

Now, this might not be the first time you’ve heard that time alone will help with more than just relieving stress after a tough day at work- and that’s because it’s back by science.

Dr Landom’s views are also reflected in a small study conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen in Germany which closely looked at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on white blood cell count.

How to prevent coronavirus from spreading, according to the NHS


  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus
  • only travel on public transport if you need to
  • work from home, if you can
  • avoid social activities, such as going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas
  • avoid events with large groups of people
  • use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services


  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • do not have visitors to your home, including friends and family

And yes, while we agree that a team of doctors watching a group of people engage in self-pleasure is rather strange, the results were clear and it was confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells and boosted the immune system – so thank you volunteers.

More than that, though, orgasms in general help you relax and sleep better, too – and more sleep means more time for your body to repair and recover.

Besides, the NHS even says that sexual arousal sends the heart rate higher, and the number of beats per minute reaches its peak during orgasm.

So if you are feeling a little under the weather,  or simplY want your immune system firing the way it should, simply whip out your play mate and enjoy the time indoors.

But remember, if you are engaging is sex with a partner during the coronavirus outbreak be sure to slap on a condom because according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the main method of transmission of the coronavirus is person-to-person contact – and we all know what that means.

We recently shared the best sex positions to try with your partner during self-isolation.

And yoga instructor porn is the huge new sex trend you probably know nothing about.

Meanwhile, this woman ‘dies of embarrassment’ after repairman spots sex toy stuck on bathroom wall.

Sexpert Nadia Bokody visits a sex therapist to find out the common reasons people visit

Is Lockdown Hurting Your Immune System?

Is Lockdown Hurting Your Immune System?

  • October 6, 2020

As Covid-19 swept across the nation, we’ve spent weeks, if not months, in coronavirus quarantine, or lockdown, only leaving the house for essential errands like a trip to the grocery store or doctor. Our efforts have helped us avoid catching or spreading Covid-19, but did all this time spent social distancing, staying indoors, and avoiding people actually weaken our immunity? Despite what you may’ve heard, the short answer is no, says Sten Vermund, MD, dean of the Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut.

How to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19



Initially, there was concern that by limiting exposure to germs, people might set themselves up for other illnesses when lockdowns were lifted. But, a few months of lockdown is not likely to have dramatic effects on your immune system’s strength, according to Dr. Vermund. Nonetheless, you can still take steps to make sure your immune system is primed, especially as cold and flu season approaches.

The hygiene hypothesis

The concern about a weakened immune system started off as an offshoot of the hygiene hypothesis, which states that individuals who are exposed to a variety of germs in childhood build better immunity. Young children who have early exposure to different types of germs are less likely to develop allergies and other diseases when compared with children who grow up in sterile, clean environments.

But this hypothesis can’t really be applied to a few months of lockdown during a pandemic, Dr. Vermund explains. “If you are 30, your immune system has been battling invaders for 29-plus years, and four months of lockdown and a home-based lifestyle won’t make a difference. Your immune system is built over a lifetime of exposure,” he says. “Four months of being relatively isolated is not going to harm you because of lack of exposure to pathogens, as you have been exposed for your whole life.”

Newborns and toddlers won’t face long-term repercussions from lockdown on their immune systems either. “This is just a small delay in that child’s natural exposure, and the child will make up for lost time once they are exposed to germs,” Vermund adds.

“We don’t need constant bombardment with viruses to keep our immune system going,” agrees Len Horovitz, MD, pulmonary specialist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City.

Higher levels of body inflammation

That said, there are some ways that lockdown and the isolation it requires can put dents in your immune system, Dr. Horovitz says. In an analysis of 30 studies, published in May in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, researchers found that social isolation and loneliness are linked with higher levels of inflammation in the body. Inflammation can cause or worsen a host of diseases and conditions. In this study, social isolation was associated with the presence of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker, and higher levels of fibrinogen, which, in excess, can increase the risk that a blood clot blocks a vein. This can obstruct blood flow and causing a heart attack or stroke, among other complications. In addition, loneliness was linked to higher levels of another inflammatory protein known as interleukin-6. Still, the researchers note, more research is needed to confirm these findings.

a person sitting on a bed

© Westend61/Getty Images

Mental illness may exacerbate preexisting conditions

Stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness make everything worse, Dr. Horovitz explains. “COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] and heart disease patients who are depressed, don’t have the same outcomes as those who are not depressed,” he says. “More anxiety and depression will give you a worse course of whatever disease state you are experiencing.” What’s more, Covid-19-related stress and anxiety may raise broken heart syndrome risk, which can mimic the symptoms of a heart attack.

Tips to boost your immune system

If you are depressed and socially isolated, you may not do the things you know you should do to stay healthy, such as engage in regular exercise, eat well, and get good-quality sleep. Instead, you may engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. American adults have dramatically increased their consumption of alcohol during quarantine, with women increasing their heavy binge drinking episodes by 41 percent, according to a new study by RAND Corporation, a nonprofit think tank.

This doesn’t mean you are powerless. There are things to do to keep your immune system up to snuff, which can help protect you from all sorts of diseases and conditions, including Covid-19. Here are a few expert-recommended tips.

Get your vitamin D

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because your body produces it when exposed to sunlight, and it stands to reason that your levels may be lower than they should be due to time spent indoors during quarantine, says Dr. Horovitz. “Vitamin D can boost immunity,” he says. The current recommended daily amount of vitamin D for adults is 600 International Units per day. It’s hard to get enough vitamin D from food, which is why most doctors recommend a supplement. A blood test can tell you where you stand, he says.

Get a good night’s sleep

Aim for seven to eight hours sleep per night, Dr. Horovitz says. Make sure your bedroom is cool and dark and conducive to good sleep. Don’t engage in stressful activities before bed, which may include reading the news or tracking Covid-19 cases in your zip code. Sleep loss can hamper your immune system and leave you more vulnerable to colds and the flu.

Exercise regularly

Try to be physically active every day. It helps keep your immune system strong, possibly by flushing bacteria out of your lungs and airways to reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness. “It also boosts brain chemicals known as endorphins and keeps your spirits up,” Dr. Horovitz says.

Eat well

Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables and maintaining a normal weight will keep our body in optimal shape so it is better able to fight off diseases, according to Dr. Horovitz.

Get the flu shot

It’s also important to make sure you and your family are up to date on all vaccines. The flu shot this year is no exception.

Wash your hands

Taking steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands and wearing a face covering when social distancing isn’t possible, can help you stay healthy.

If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation

If you do drink alcohol, do so in moderation, he says. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans define moderate alcohol consumption as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. A drink is defined as 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits, 12 fluid ounces of regular beer, or 5 fluid ounces of wine.

The takeaway

Avoiding these habits that might be harming your immune system can help keep illness at bay. These measures may be especially important for older people, advises Dr. Horovitz. Advancing age is known to zap your immune system of some of its power. “We know the immune system naturally as we get older doesn’t have the robust qualities it had in childhood,” he says.

The post Is Lockdown Hurting Your Immune System? appeared first on The Healthy.

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With COVID cases rising in Delhi, restro owners witness cancellations of reservations for the weekend

With COVID cases rising in Delhi, restro owners witness cancellations of reservations for the weekend

  • September 13, 2020
September 9 was a big day for restaurants and bars in Delhi, as they were allowed to serve liquor on tables after over five months due to the pandemic. Restaurant owners had high hopes from the weekend following September 9, as almost all had a good number of reservations and queries. However, they tell us that the rising number of COVID cases in Delhi is still keeping the footfall low. Though there was a 30-40% increase in business, as compared to previous weekends when serving liquor was not allowed, restaurateurs say it is still a small number, and they’re hoping it’ll go up by the end of this month.

‘It was a slow start, but hoping to get better business’

After over five months, it was the first weekend when restaurants and bars could serve liquor on tables (service at the bar is not allowed) while following safety guidelines. As expected, there was an increase in the weekend footfall by 30-40%, but given the current restriction of 50% occupancy to maintain social distancing, the numbers were not very high, say restaurant owners. “It is a slow start, but not a bad one. We had group bookings as well for the weekend, but there are still a limited number of people going out to dine despite the fact that restaurants are now serving liquor,” says Varun Duggal, Head Alliances, Massive Restaurants, which owns restaurants such as Farzi Café. Ever since restaurants reopened after the lockdown, one big change they’ve noticed is that people have cut down on their outings. “I have friends who used to go out five times a week, but now they just go out twice. So no matter if restaurants are serving liquor or not, people are stepping out less to dine out. They have cut down the number of visits, so while earlier we’d have a good footfall throughout the week, we now have just 30-40% of that, and that too, just on a weekend,” shares Goumtesh Singh, who owns Raasta and Yeti.

‘People cancelled reservations after hearing of rise in COVID cases in Delhi’
Soon after it was announced that Delhi restaurants and bars can serve liquor on tables, from September 9, reservation queries started coming at most outlets. Restaurant owners say considering the fact that they are operating on 50% occupancy, there are many diners who now prefer to make a reservation in advance. In the first weekend after serving liquor was permitted, restaurants had a good number of bookings, some of which were cancelled after it was reported that Delhi recorded a sharp increase in the number of COVID cases. “We are only accepting guests on reservation, and we had many bookings for the weekend, even for Thursday. However, on Thursday, we saw a lot of cancellations as there has been a surge in COVID cases in Delhi. I think people still have that fear of stepping out to dine out, and the rising COVID cases in Delhi surely impact their decision of going out,” says Akshay Anand, who owns Ophelia. Deepak Bhatia, Vice President (Operations), Lite Bite Foods, which operates Punjab Grill, adds, “We have some outlets of Punjab Grill open in Delhi since a few days now. We have also noticed this trend that whenever there is news about a rise in COVID cases in Delhi, there will be some cancellations. The same happened this week, too. But our food delivery orders have been consistently high.”

‘As compared to Delhi, the number of visitors at Gurgaon outlets is less’

As most restaurateurs have now reopened their outlets in both Delhi and Gurgaon, they say that while the footfall in Delhi has been slow but consistent, in Gurgaon, customers dining out are still few. “I think one of the main reasons is that in Gurgaon, the corporate crowd used to drive our businesses big time, and for the time being they’ve either gone back to their home towns or are working from home, so we do not have corporate gatherings,” says Varun. Umang Tewari, owner of Local and Garam Dharam in Connaught Place and Sexy Soda at Golf Course Road, Gurgaon, agrees with Varun. “Even in Delhi, there are areas which are doing very well, like Connaught Place and Khan Market. My outlet (Liv Bar) at Aerocity isn’t doing as good as my other outlets in CP. I think the reason is the same as to why we still don’t have a crowd in Gurgaon – there are no corporate guests yet. Also, at Aerocity, there used to be a good number of people staying at hotels there, or those travelling from Delhi airport. Even that number is small right now,” he says.

Is staying home harming your child’s immune system by making them more susceptible to other diseases?

Is staying home harming your child’s immune system by making them more susceptible to other diseases?- Technology News, Firstpost

  • September 13, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has come with a few silver linings. The clear winner for me has been the delightful dearth of snot: My kids haven’t had a cold since March, and neither have I, and I haven’t missed those crusty red noses one little bit.

Yet I know it can be good for kids to encounter bacteria and viruses because microbial exposure shapes the development of the immune system. This is one of the reasons we have vaccines; when we inject our bodies with little bits of pathogens or dead ones, they learn how to better recognize and fight these same (live) pathogens down the line.

Exposure to a wide variety of microbes early in childhood also trains kids’ immune systems to recognize what’s dangerous and what’s not. Parents are now told to feed their babies allergens like peanut butter and eggs earlier rather than later in infancy, because doing so teaches a baby’s immune system, little by little, that these foods are safe.

And according to the hygiene hypothesis — a controversial theory first proposed in 1989 by an English scientist, David P. Strachan — as kids in developed countries have grown up with more bleach and disinfectant wipes and fewer infections over recent decades, rates of allergies and autoimmune diseases have increased substantially. Cleanliness and isolation, the argument goes, aren’t good for developing immunity, although some scientists aren’t convinced.

So I can’t help but wonder, even as I celebrate the lack of snot and sneezing: Is COVID-19 isolation affecting kids’ immunity? Will locking our children inside the apartment all day to protect them from one virus make them more susceptible to others — even some chronic illnesses — for the rest of their lives?

Some Illnesses Are Better Caught Early, Others Later

First, some reassuring news: Some kids’ immune systems will benefit from having more time at home this year. Consider respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, a common respiratory virus that kids typically catch before the age of 2 (often at daycare). RSV can be very serious, leading to some 57,000 hospitalizations in American babies and toddlers each year. RSV is also believed, in rare cases, to trigger asthma, a disease sparked in part by an overactive immune response — and “the younger you are when you have RSV, the higher the risk,” said Tobias Kollmann, M.D., Ph.D., a pediatric infectious disease physician at the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth, Australia. So if babies who otherwise would have caught RSV this year do not, that’s a win; when they eventually catch it later on (nearly all kids do), the potential risks will be lower.

Yet the opposite can be said about other infections. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), two common infections caused by herpes viruses, incite few serious symptoms in toddlers and young kids. But when older kids catch them, they can cause infectious mononucleosis, a debilitating illness that can last for months. In rare cases, too, kids with mono have more serious complications; their spleens can rupture, which can be fatal.

Measles, mumps and chickenpox are other infections that can be more serious when caught by older kids. But in the U.S., these infections can be prevented by vaccines.

Interestingly, too, kids who acquire CMV while young may reap additional immune benefits. (In the U.S., about half the population of young adults has CMV; in developing countries, the proportion is closer to 80-90 percent, although people rarely know whether or not they have it.) The virus persists in the body for life and, like other herpes viruses, has co-evolved with humans for many millions of years. It has “a big impact on immunity,” said Sallie Permar, M.D., Ph.D., a pediatric immunologist at the Duke University School of Medicine.

Many of CMV’s genes directly shape our immune responses and expand our body’s population of certain immune cells. Research has shown that when young people have CMV, they have a stronger immune response to the flu vaccine, and scientists speculate that CMV could strengthen the immune system’s ability to fight off other pathogens, too.

Benefits of Early Exposure to Microbes, Allergens and Bugs

Infections, though, aren’t the only things to consider. When kids are around other kids, they share microbes that don’t necessarily make anyone sick but could be good for developing immunity because they seed a more hearty ecosystem of microbes in the body or microbiome.

In a 2015 study, researchers studied African baboons who had similar behaviours and diets and overlapping environments but who differed in one key way: One group engaged in social grooming — touching and picking things off each other — while the other did not. They found that the baboons that groomed each other had more similar microbiomes to one another, suggesting that social contact leads to meaningful microbial exchanges.

Researchers theorized in another 2015 paper that when people isolate from one another and spend their time mostly inside, it may reduce “our exposure to richer microbiomes from other sources, thereby limiting the development of our immune system.”

Another reason more exposures may be better is that when young kids are regularly exposed to small amounts of potential allergens — things like pollen, eggs, peanut butter and shrimp — it trains their bodies to handle those things well in the future.

“The idea is that if you’re exposed to something over and over again, you become tolerant to it rather than have an overactive response,” Permar said. (Pediatricians used to tell parents the opposite: that they should wait until their babies are older to introduce allergenic foods. But clinical trials conducted in 2015 and 2016 showed that earlier exposure is, in fact, better, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has changed its recommendations.)

Other research suggests that more exposure to “good” bugs is better. Babies who receive antibiotics, which kill the microbes in their microbiome, are at a higher risk for developing asthma, eczema and allergies, while kids who grow up on farms and are, among other things, surrounded by animals harbouring all sorts of microbes have a lower risk of developing these same conditions.

One unpublished 2019 experiment reported that babies who grow up on farms have more gut bacteria known to reduce inflammation. A theory known as the “old friends” hypothesis, developed in 2003 by British microbiologist Graham Rook as a replacement for the hygiene hypothesis, suggests that frequent exposure to harmless microbes that have co-evolved with humans help to train the developing immune system.

“You need that microbial exposure to really develop your immune system fully,” said B. Brett Finlay, Ph.D., a microbiologist at the University of British Columbia and co-author of “Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanitized World.”

“Our immune systems are built to be exposed to things early in life so we can then be ready for the rest of our life,” he added.

Does this mean that if your kids stay home all year, their immune systems will be doomed? No. Because when it comes to how the immune system develops, “there’s so many things to consider,” said Ruchi Singla, M.D., a pediatric allergist and immunologist at the University of Chicago Medicine. “Just as the immune system is so complex, all of the things that affect it are so complex.” Immunity is largely shaped by genetics, for instance, which means that what your children do or don’t do this year will only shape certain aspects of their immunity.

“Not a One-Size-Fits-All”

This is why, when researchers try to tease out how specific behaviours and choices shape immune responses, they don’t always get clear-cut answers. Dozens of studies have tried to understand the health effects of attending daycare by comparing kids who go to daycare with those who stay home, hoping to identify differences in rates of allergies, asthma and other immune-related conditions. Yet the studies largely conflict; if one study comes to one conclusion, another one often contradicts it. Given that immunity is shaped by so many factors, Permar said, if isolating our kids for a year or two has any effect, “it will probably be subtle.”

Families who stay home this year may also do other things to balance out the potentially bad effects of isolation. Some mothers may breastfeed their babies for longer than they otherwise would have, Finlay said, which could strengthen their immunity, since breast milk contains maternal antibodies. (This said, the evidence on how breast milk shapes immunity is also mixed.)

Families may also spend more time outside than usual, where they will be exposed to more diverse microbes. Many families adopted pets during the pandemic, too, and research suggests that pet ownership (especially dogs) reduces the risk for eczema and asthma. The upshot is that the impact of coronavirus-induced isolation is “not a one-size-fits-all,” Finlay said.

Still, if you’re concerned, there are several things you can do to give your kids’ immune systems a boost. First, make sure everyone gets a flu shot this fall and that your kids stay up-to-date on their childhood immunizations, Singla said because vaccines are among the best tools to train kids’ immune systems.

Send your children outside when you can. Take walks and hikes together or just let your kids play outdoors. Not only does outdoor play expose kids to good microbes in the environment, but play also helps kids regulate stress — and stress can affect the immune system as well.

Since kids can pick up on our stress, too; perhaps the less we worry about how our kids’ isolation could affect their immunity, the better. Instead, we can enjoy the rare but precious silver linings of the pandemic — like that maybe we won’t have to buy 745 boxes of tissues this year.

Melinda Wenner Moyer c.2020 The New York Times Company

At-home consumption and health awareness prevails

At-home consumption and health awareness prevails

  • September 9, 2020

09 Sep 2020 — The COVID-19 pandemic has led to high levels of uncertainty and decreased confidence among consumers, according to the latest insights from Agrana Fruit, part of the Agrana Group. “Even before the pandemic, consumer needs for more transparency and traceability in the supply chain of food has been a trend, which was boosted even more by the impact of COVID-19,” Melanie Sturm, Global Market & Customer Insights Manager at Agrana Fruit, tells FoodIngredientsFirst

For the food ingredients sector specifically, food safety is high on the agenda, notes the company while there are opportunities for NPD in healthy snacking. 

“The need for locally sourced products is also increasing. Besides, consumers prioritize health and affordability in their purchasing decisions, considering the current uncertain circumstances regarding the pandemic and the economic development,” Sturm explains. 

Click to EnlargeIndustry is facing uncertain and challenging times, but there are opportunities for the F&B industry, says Agrana. Making mid- to long-term predictions in the current environment is not only challenging for Agrana Fruit but for many. However, Sturm believes some changes in consumer behavior will remain for at least the next 12 months and perhaps beyond. 

“These examples are higher in-home consumption, an increased focus on safety, elevated consciousness about health as well as a higher focus on affordability,” she affirms. 

Ripe with opportunity 
Although industry is facing uncertain and challenging times right now, there are several opportunities for the F&B sector, according to Sturm. 

“The main opportunity is to tap into the increased need for naturally functional health products, often consumed as snacks. Sixty-two percent of global consumers say that they have become more conscious about their overall health as a result of COVID-19.”

Consumers are seeking F&B products that boost their immune system. Another niche but the emerging category is eye health, says Sturm. 

“The screen time of both adults and children has increased even more due to COVID-19. Consumers will be looking for functional products supporting their eye health,” she notes. 

Another opportunity for food producers is the change in diet-related to COVID-19. 

“Sixty-one percent of global consumers want to increase their fruit intake to eat more healthily,” she adds. Click to EnlargeSixty-one percent of global consumers want to increase their fruit intake to eat more healthily, says Agrana.

Agrana Fruit offers natural solutions with a short ingredient list to add more fruit to dairy, ice cream or bakery products, or stand-alone fruit snacks for retail and foodservice.

Besides all the health concerns, consumers still want to indulge. Affordable treats and permissible indulgence are vital to this sphere. 

“Fruit snacks, fruited ice cream or desserts with a fruity sauce can be a perfect match for those cravings to lift the mood,” Sturm adds. 

Comfort foods on the rise
Many consumers are seeking comfort foods to better deal with stress and anxiety. 

According to Sturm, 56 percent of global consumers have purchased more comfort food than before the pandemic.

“Although comfort food is a very individualized concept, some food categories such as ice cream, confectionery, savory snacks and desserts are perceived as more suitable for comfort food.”

When consumers seek comfort in food, they usually do not pay attention to their caloric intake or the nutritional value of the food products they consume, Sturm further details. 

“They simply want to indulge and remember easier times – often linked to childhood memories,” she adds. 

With high levels of stress and anxiety in uncertain times, consumers long for something familiar to achieve a feeling of security.  Click to EnlargeConsumers want to discover new flavors when they are at home – even more so following restrictions around COVID-19. 

On such occasions, consumers just want to indulge and escape the daily stress for a moment. Often, they give preference to familiar brands for comfort food.

In June, Innova Market Insights revealed that German consumers were bucking the trend for healthier nibbles, with indulgence claims being the most critical influence on snack purchase decisions in the country. 

The market researcher noted that health claims were starting to enter the snack market, despite COVID-19 triggering a shift toward comfort food.

Flavors and world foods boom
“Food is the perfect form of escapism. Consumers can fight boredom by experiencing something new and discovering flavors from faraway places,” Sturm further explains. 

In recent years, travel has increased steadily. In addition to consumers getting used to broadening their horizons when it comes to food and beverages, they also want to discover new things when they are at home – even more so during times of lockdowns or travel restrictions because of COVID-19. 

For example, 64 percent of US consumers said they love to discover flavors from other countries. Also, diversity in food helps to overcome feelings of boredom and works as a distraction. Agrana Fruit is also exploring emerging cuisines that are currently in the spotlight. 

By Elizabeth Green

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Navya Nanda opens up about her battle with severe anxiety; says hit rock bottom several times

Navya Nanda opens up about her battle with severe anxiety; says hit rock bottom several times

  • September 2, 2020
We are all bound to feel overwhelmed, stressed, burnt out and sad at times. It could also expose us to anxiety, which is a tough battle on its own. Learning to live with anxiety can be a long, hard journey before you start to feel at peace with yourself. However, what stops people from getting help is late realization. With the uncertain times as it is, we are all collectively going through, the pandemic has also taken a huge toll on our mental well-being. A study estimated that nearly
50% of youth, worldwide suffered from issues like anxiety and depression through the lockdown.

Navya Nanda, actor Amitabh Bachchan’s grandaughter is now winning applause on the internet for opening up about her battle with anxiety and seeking help.

Navya, who also made news for launching her own community health platform is proactive on social media. As someone who was supposed to graduate this year, Navya also went through some turmoil and even witnessed COVID-19 striking her own family. Taking to the internet, Navya, refreshingly spoke up about the issues she went through in a 30-minute long conversation with fellow co-founders of the health platform, Aara.

Talking about her need to pursue therapy and counselling, Navya said that she suffered from crippling and severe anxiety issues. Detailing that she only thought of consulting a therapist recently, Navya said that it took her a while to understand that she was not doing okay, and needed professional advice.

Commenting that she hit ‘rock-bottom’ in her life several times, but couldn’t understand why Navya spoke:

“I went fairly recently like you said that you realise when you hit rock bottom. I feel like I hit rock bottom multiple times and I just couldn’t figure out why. I was like okay, obviously something has to change, I need to talk about it. I think it helped to come to that conclusion.

Adding that therapy was a new thing for her, Navya also explained that there’s a certain stigma attached to mental health which stops people from getting help.

“It was something new for me as well. I wanted to kind of experience it myself before talking about it. Obviously, my family knows that I am in therapy but I don’t think any of my friends do. I don’t know if would still go and tell them,”

The 20-year-old, who is touted to make a Bollywood debut as well spoke at length, praising how therapy has helped her deal with issues and manage her mental health. She has also been able to identify triggers which make her anxious and take care of herself.

“…Now once a week I am in that routine and I don’t think I am even close to hitting rock bottom because I have everything in control, I am talking to someone. Now I can identify what are the things that even get me to hit rock bottom. People realise too late sometimes that they need to get help.”

Adding that therapy helped her decentre and focus on positivity, Navya’s confession also cleared certain doubts- therapy and counselling don’t have to be bad. In fact, the 23-year-old said that she thoroughly enjoyed going to therapy.

“Now once a week I am in that routine and I don’t think I am even close to hitting rock bottom because I have everything in control, I am talking to someone. Now I can identify what are the things that even get me to hit rock bottom. People realise too late sometimes that they need to get help.”


‘SMART’ Health Goals to Follow in Post-lockdown World

  • August 30, 2020

The Covid-19 outbreak has brought along the burden of uncertainty and fear amongst people; on a global scale, citizens have now become accustomed to the work from home and quarantine routine.

As we prepare ourselves for a post-lockdown world, keeping in mind various safety and precautionary measures, is imperative. It’s important we maintain and follow a healthy lifestyle, which was adopted during the lockdown- avoid eating outside food, opt for homemade healthy choices, maintain a routine with work and also follow some physical activity to keep yourself from being lethargic. It is imperative to continue a healthy way of life and to keep our immunity intact on a daily basis.

The importance of building a stronger immune system to tackle infections and keep disease at bay is the single most defining element of sustaining a healthy lifestyle!

The immune system of the body is regarded as the first line of defense against bacteria and viruses, making it essential for survival. This can’t be built in a day, but over a period of time. An innate immune system is naturally present while immunity acquired from a vaccination or infection or by transfer of antibodies is called acquired immunity. Nutritionist Sheryl Salis shares ‘SMART’ health goals to help get you started:

S – Simple and Sustainable

Start with a simple diet regime that is easy to follow even on days you are not working from home. Eat a balanced diet with proteins, carbohydrates, and fats; include seasonal fruits, Indian superfoods and green leafy vegetables easily available in the market. Stocking up on local products will make it easier to always include in the diet. Avoid fad diets and fancy foods that are difficult to procure.

M – Measurable

Goals set must always be measurable such as weight lost over a period of time, increased energy through a certain physical exercise etc. Measurable goals will help you compare what has been achieved and what is yet to be achieved. Therefore, a simple diet will allow you to track progress and stay motivated

A – Affordable

The lockdown has brought with it tough financial situations and thus, spending on essentials should be affordable in the long run. Opt for local food produce and superfoods that give the body the required nutrition. Look at your kitchen as pharmacy, it is filled with anti-viral foods that are economical and almost used daily such as ginger, garlic, turmeric, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, fennel seeds, etc. help you stay fit and boost immune system

An Indian staple like virgin coconut oil (VCNO) is another recommended superfood for its myriad health benefits which include boosting energy, aiding in digestion and helps improve the immune system. VCNO can be used in baking, cooking, sauting or as salad dressing.

The Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) present in virgin coconut oil are known to improve the immune system of the body. Consuming 2 spoons of virgin coconut oil everyday promotes overall health and well-being in the long run.

R – Realistic Goal setting

A goal is essentially an objective you are working towards and therefore set goals that are realistic and achievable. One must also take into consideration the change of routine post lockdown and set health goals accordingly. For example, setting a target to lose 10kg weight in one month is unrealistic compared to 2 kilos per month

T – Time Management

When offices resume, most of us will be short on time to enjoy the leisure of a holistic lifestyle and juggle with work pressure and deadlines. To avoid slipping back into an unhealthy routine, manage your time well by waking up early before sunrise and practice yoga or any physical activity, eat a wholesome nutritional breakfast for a good start the day.


Coronavirus: China millennials drink milk to boost immunity – health

  • August 17, 2020

One debate fuelled by the virus is about whether to have steamed buns and congee (porridge) for breakfast, or milk and toast. It’s a serious question in China, where the government is pushing people to drink milk to get more protein, a vital ingredient in building the body’s immune system.

Parents “should prepare enough milk and eggs every morning for your children…no congee should be allowed as breakfast,” said Zhang Wenhong, a doctor at the infectious diseases department at Shanghai’s Huashan Hospital and one of China’s most outspoken critics of the nation’s diet since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Zhang’s view has some serious backing. At this year’s National People’s Congress, China’s annual meeting of parliament, a lawmaker suggested the government should make it a national strategy to encourage every person to drink at least 300 grams of milk a day – about half a pint.

The comments triggered debates on social media about whether milk provides irreplaceable nutrition, whether China’s traditional diet needs more animal protein, and how universal “lifelong milk drinking” will affect food security and the environment. The sudden focus on improving immunity could have global repercussions, from dairy farms in Australia to deforestation in the Amazon, and hurt efforts to curb climate change.

Because of its large population, China is already second to the U.S. in dairy sales and is forecast to take the top spot by 2022. It’s also the third-largest producer of cow’s milk. Yet it has a lot of room to grow. Annual per capita consumption has risen to about 34 liters, according to China’s State Administration for Market Regulation — that’s still a fraction of the 100 liters the average Australian consumes.

By 2025, China’s government expects milk production to reach 45 million tons, 30 times what it was in 1980. That will mean dedicating more farmland to raising and feeding cows, both at home and abroad.

With limited farmland in China, the increase is a global issue. In the three decades to 2010, the amount of corn used to feed livestock in China grew sixfold and the animal consumption of soybeans ninefold. Greenhouse gas emissions from China’s livestock, a major source of methane, more than doubled. That may be good news for Brazil’s soybean growers but bad news for the Amazon. China buys about three quarters of Brazil’s soybeans, a trade that has been blamed for a rise in deforestation.

Carbon Footprint

Programs to promote dairy “will largely counteract the endeavors by China’s government, people and those in other industries to reduce our overall carbon footprint,” said Jian Yi, founder of the Good Food Fund, which promotes sustainable food systems in China. They could have a “catastrophic” effect on the environment, he said.

The rise of big industrial farms has led to water contamination and threats to human health as cows are housed in cramped conditions and routinely given antibiotics and other drugs, according to Mia MacDonald, founder of New York-based non-profit Brighter Green.

Critics of dairy consumption say that the food doesn’t prevent people from getting the coronavirus and that there are other ways to add protein to a diet. Animal welfare groups point to studies that indicate cow’s milk may contribute to health problems such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Such arguments carry little weight in China, where social media sites such as Weibo are full of posts accusing the West of double standards, pointing out that per capita protein consumption is far higher in developed nations.

On, a social media platform popular with millennials, a group called “If You Love Drinking Milk, Hands Up” has almost 100,000 members and over 800 chat threads. Some share their favorite brands, others post shopping receipts to prove they drink a liter of milk a day. There are even tips on how to overcome lactose intolerance: “Mix it with the same amount of water; then no problem,” one suggests.

Most of the group’s members grew up in an era since the 1980s when the government was pushing milk in TV ads. But there’s another factor driving dairy’s popularity – social status.

“Having fresh milk delivered home was a symbol of superiority,” said Fan Zhihong, nutritionist and professor at China Agricultural University, remembering her childhood in Beijing. Her family was one of the few who had milk sent to their house because her grandfather was a retired cadre in the 1970s. “Only rich families could afford snacks made from dairy products.”

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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Feeling beat in lockdown? These dietary changes may boost your mood and health

Feeling beat in lockdown? These dietary changes may boost your mood and health

  • July 20, 2020
By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |

Updated: July 20, 2020 4:40:18 pm

healthy eating, lockdown diet, immunity boosting, mental health, lockdown blues, health, mental health, indian express, indian express news Lockdown blues and feelings of despair can be fought back with clean diet. (Source: Getty/Thinkstock)

Life has changed drastically in the last few months. The pandemic has confined most people to their homes, from where they have been working and juggling other chores. As such, people have been feeling the lockdown blues. These are typically feelings of despair that come with the uncertainty of the future.

But, there is a solution — there always is. Experts say that mental health and physical health are linked, and if you focus on one, you automatically focus on the other, too; both of them go hand in hand. It is imperative that we talk about how we are feeling inside our head, especially since these are unprecedented times and everyone is experiencing them differently.

ALSO READ | A new study shows how time-restricted diet can help in weight loss

If you are feeling beat of late, and are looking for ways to help yourself fight the blues, online fitness trainer and sports nutritionist Diksha Chhabra suggests you make some healthy dietary changes. “You can say a healthy gut is a happy gut. It can help you to beat all kinds of stress and anxiety, and make you feel good about yourself. The right kind of food affects the brain, and a balanced diet along with exercise, can overcome many mental health issues. Foods that are rich in certain chemicals, vitamins and minerals influence our biochemistry, thus lifting our mood immediately,” she says.

* Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate, with at least 70 per cent cocoa, is a great mood booster that fits the healthy diet bracket perfectly, because of less sugar content. It helps boost the endorphins in our body which, in turn, helps in easing any kind of emotional and mental stress.

* Omega 3: Omega 3 fatty acids are naturally found in fish, nuts and flaxseeds. They play a vital role in our body’s cell manufacturing, skin and hair health, which give us a feeling of happiness. In case you find it difficult to add naturally, omega 3 is available in form of supplements, too.

* Foods rich in vitamin D: Mushroom, poultry and milk are some rich sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D can also be amplified through the sun, which is a natural source. It helps to regulate the serotonin levels in brain, which can ward off depression and anxiety.

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* Green leafy vegetables: Green leafy vegetables are rich in folic acid, magnesium, vitamin C and B6. All of these essential micro nutrients play a vital role in regulating many brain activities.

* Probiotics: Food rich in probiotics and fermented food help in maintaining good bacteria in your gut. Probiotics are the good bacteria living in our intestines, known for aiding digestion, boosting the immune system and cleaning our gut. A good gut health has a calming effect on the brain.

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