Boosting The Immune System Could Be A Treatment Strategy For COVID-19

Boosting The Immune System Could Be A Treatment Strategy For COVID-19

  • August 6, 2020

Since the beginning of this outbreak holistic practitioners and the health conscious around the globe have been encouraging people to make better lifestyle choices and boost their immune system , and to be honest they have been for decades. Now Washington University appears to be joining that cause and is suggesting that boosting the immune system could be a treatment strategy for COVID-19. 

“We think if we can make our immune systems stronger, we’ll be better able to fight off this coronavirus, as well as other viral and bacterial pathogens”

A large portion of research into this virus is focused on the immune system’s role in those who became seriously ill. One of the emerging theories suggests that the immune system works so hard at fighting off this virus that it can result in fatal organ damage, particularly in the lungs. 

Researchers from Washington University St.Louis are pointing to another theory that is getting overlooked which suggests that patients become ill because their immune system is not able to do enough to protect them from the virus, and as such the team is suggesting that boosting the immune system could be a potential treatment strategy. The team has also been investigating a similar approach with sepsis, according to a release. 

“People around the world have been treating patients seriously ill with COVID-19 using drugs that do very different things,” said Richard S. Hotchkiss, professor of anesthesiology, of medicine and of surgery. “Some drugs tamp down the immune response, while others enhance it. Everybody seems to be throwing the kitchen sink at the illness. It may be true that some people die from a hyperinflammatory response, but it appears more likely to us that if you block the immune system too much, you’re not going to be able to control the virus.”

Autopsy studies were used to show large amounts of the virus present in the organs of those who had lost their battle with the virus, which suggests that their immune system was not working well enough to fight the virus off leading to death. 

“But when we actually looked closely at these patients, we found that their tires, so to speak, were underinflated or immune-suppressed,” said Kenneth Remy, assistant professor of pediatrics, of medicine and of anesthesiology at WashU. “To go and poke holes in them with anti-inflammatory drugs because you think they are hyperinflated or hyperinflamed will only make the suppression and the disease worse.

Blood samples were gathered from 20 COVID-19 patients to test the activity of immune cells in the blood; the team compared those samples with blood of 26 hospitalized sepsis patients and 18 others who were very ill but did not have sepsis or COVID-19. Those with COVID-19 were found to have far fewer circulating immune cells than what is typical and the immune cells present did not secrete normal levels of cytokines. Cytokine molecules are suspected to be the cause of organ damage in death in COVID-19 patients. 

Similar trials and studies focused on boosting immunity are underway in Europe and America which includes Washington University. According to the team finding ways to boost immune responses should help COVID-19 patients, and should also be helpful in avoiding another similar pandemic. 

We should have been geared up and more ready when this pathogen appeared,” said Hotchkiss. “But what Ken [Remy] and I and our colleagues are working on now is finding ways to boost the immune system that may help people during future pandemics. We think if we can make our immune systems stronger, we’ll be better able to fight off this coronavirus, as well as other viral and bacterial pathogens that may be unleashed in the future.

For anyone interested in boosting your immune system, while it is not guaranteed to prevent you from becoming ill, it could help to give you a better chance of recovery. According to Harvard Health the first line of defense when it comes to the immune system is choosing a health lifestyle. Every part of the body functions better when it is protected from environmental assaults and is bolstered by healthy living strategies, such as what is promoted by here at WHN and the A4M.

Healthy lifestyle choices include:

  • Not smoking
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Keep levels of stress in check/minimized 
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Avoiding being sedentary
  • Going outside more
  • Eating a healthy balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables
  • Avoiding processed foods
  • Regular exercise
  • Avoiding alcohol, and if you drink only do it in moderation
  • Being socially active face to face in person when possible
  • Proper hygiene
  • Thoroughly cooking meats
  • Limiting added sugars
  • Staying hydrated
  • Supplementing wisely as needed 

Sandra Darling, DO who is a preventive medicine physician and wellness expert at the Cleveland Clinic says that while there is no magic pill, there are tried and true ways to take your immunity up a notch: 

“Let’s start with the basics: Wash your hands for 20 seconds, don’t touch your face and take distancing seriously,” says Dr. Darling. “If you only do these three things, you’ll be well on your way to staying healthy.”

Dr. Darling prescribes 4 stay healthy strategies. “I believe in the power of immune-boosting foods,” says Dr. Darling. “Choosing whole, unprocessed foods does wonders for overall health.” She recommends garlic, prebiotics, vitamin C rich foods, antioxidants and natural immunity aids as immunity boosters in the focus on food. 

She also recommends simple lifestyle improvements like managing stress, getting enough sleep, meditation, and exercise. “Exercise increases your resilience so you can fight off infection,” says Dr. Darling. “Our bodies function better when we’re physically active every day.”

Like many others Dr. Darling also suggests that a positive mindset is key to health and well being. Positive thoughts have been shown to reduce stress and inflammation while increasing resilience to infection. “The COVID-19 pandemic is scary, so it’s easy to spiral down in negative thoughts,” says Dr. Darling. “The story we tell ourselves is crucial. Change it from ‘It’s not going to be OK’ to ‘I am safe at home with the people I love.’ Start your day with a positive thought or even a mantra such as, ‘I am well.’

“A lot of people are deficient (or low) in vitamin D, and a deficiency may increase your susceptibility to infection,” says Dr. Darling. “Get outside for fresh air and sunshine, but I also recommend taking a daily supplement of 1,000 to 2,000 IUs of vitamin D.

According to healthline some studies indicate the following supplements may help to strengthen the body’s general immune response: vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, elderberry, echinacea, and garlic. 

  • According to a review in over 11,000 people, taking 1,000–2,000 mg of vitamin C per day reduced the duration of colds by 8% in adults and 14% in children. Yet, supplementing did not prevent the cold to begin with.
  • Vitamin D deficiency may increase your chances of getting sick, so supplementing may counteract this effect.
  • In a review in 575 people with the common cold, supplementing with more than 75 mg of zinc per day reduced the duration of the cold by 33%.
  • One small review found that elderberries could reduce the symptoms of viral upper respiratory infections, but more research is needed.
  • A study in over 700 people found that those who took echinacea recovered from colds slightly more quickly than those who received a placebo or no treatment.
  • A high quality, 12-week study in 146 people found that supplementing with garlic reduced the incidence of the common cold by about 30%. However, more research is needed. 
Pharmavite study finds immune health nutrient intakes below estimated average requirement

Pharmavite study finds immune health nutrient intakes below estimated average requirement

  • August 5, 2020

A study recently published in Nutrients found that there may be an inadequate intake of immune health-related nutrients. The study, conducted by Pharmavite, presents a new analysis of micronutrient usual intake estimates based on data from the 2005–2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), which contains representative data on 26,283 adults over the age of 19. Researchers found that 45% of the U.S. population was below the estimated average requirement (EAR) for vitamin A, 46% was below the EAR for vitamin C, 95% was below the EAR for vitamin D, 84% was below the EAR for vitamin E, and 15% was below the EAR for zinc. These deficiencies either remained the same or increased when compared to the 2003-2007 NHANES.

“A diet rich in whole foods, including colorful fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, low-fat dairy and seafood can provide the essential nutrients needed to meet daily requirements. However, research shows Americans are not eating the foods necessary to meet their needs for key nutrients, which has contributed to nutrient gaps that have been reported for almost 15 years,” said Susan Hazels Mitmesser, PhD, vice president, science and technology at Pharmavite (West Hills, CA). “Findings from our recent analysis show substantial shortfalls in nutrients that support immune health (vitamins A, C, D, E) and some (vitamins C, D, and zinc) are, in fact, higher than previously reported.”

The authors of the study determined that subjects who consumed food plus dietary supplements had a lower prevalence of nutrient inadequacies, compared to food alone. For example, the percentage of the population below the EAR who consumed both food and dietary supplements was 35% for vitamin A, 33% for vitamin C, 65% for vitamin D, 60% for vitamin E, and 11% for zinc, compared to food alone which was 45%, 46%, 95%, 84%, and 15%, respectively.

Along with a healthy diet, multivitamin/mineral supplements, especially those that offer 100% of the recommended daily allowance, may help fill nutrient gaps for essential nutrients, says the study, but may fall short of optimal levels for certain nutrients such as vitamin D and C. For example, the RDA for vitamin D is 600-800 IU, but this is limited to support bone health. Therefore, the Endocrine Society recommends 1500-2000 IU to maintain a minimum serum 25(OH)D concentration of 30 ng/mL, and the authors of the study state that adults over the age of 19 may require doses as high as 10,000 IU per day to correct, treat, or prevent vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin C has an RDA of 75-90 mg/day, but the optimal dose, say the researchers, is at least 200 mg/day to reach 60 μmol/L for optimal cell and tissue levels and to reduce the duration of the common cold. Additional supplementation may therefore be required to meet optimal levels for these and other nutrients. It’s clear that supporting immune health requires a more balanced and long-term approach than the acute support consumers typically seek.

“The current pandemic has caused a focus on overall health; consumers are now showing more of an interest in nutrition and dietary supplements as a way of supporting their immune system. The key immune health nutrients, vitamins A, C, D, E and zinc, must be consumed daily through food or supplements, and each nutrient plays a key role in both the innate and adaptive immune response,” explains Mitmesser. “For dietary supplements, consumers should focus less on ‘boosting’ their immune system and more on establishing adequate levels all year long of nutrients that support both the innate and adaptive immune response.”

Reference

  1. Reider CA et al. “Inadequacy of immune health nutrients: Intakes in US adults, the 2005–2016 NHANES.” Nutrients, vol. 12, no. 6 (2020): 1735
Boosting Immunity Is A Dangerous Myth

Boosting Immunity Is A Dangerous Myth

  • July 31, 2020

Mythological tales, from Achilles to Dracula, are rooted in immunity. And since medicine’s earliest days, physicians have relied on metaphors—using images like armies, orchestras, communities, weather, and gardens—to try to explain what is, in fact, an extremely complicated system that controls the health and well-being of virtually every aspect of the human body. New York Times journalist Matt Richtel, author of An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System, describes it as the “Festival of Life.” Our immunological system exists both inside and around our bodies, he says, with organisms and agents swarming everywhere, from our gut to our car’s steering wheel—some beneficial, some more dangerous. Microorganisms like fungi and bacteria, and infectious invaders such as viruses, are the party crashers. Our immune system operates like a workforce of janitors and laborers, kicking out the rowdy, unwelcome guests and cleaning up after their messes.

An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System: A Tale in Four Lives

“Festival of Life” could just as easily describe our lives before this pandemic—before the novel coronavirus, with its lethal spiked crown, crashed our festive existence as we knew it. Some experts predict the virus will return in waves this fall and beyond, so it’s best to shore up the bouncers while we can. And by that, I don’t mean “strengthen” or “boost” your immune system. Instead, it needs to be balanced and optimized, so it functions as it’s designed to.

There’s no such thing as boosting immunity

              “Boosting your immune system is a dangerous, ill-conceived concept and probably not even possible,” says Richtel, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a prime example. When most people are seriously ill from the disease, the air sacs in the lungs become inflamed and fill with fluid, making it difficult for oxygen to pass through. It’s the body’s overzealous immune response, which sends in artillery—proteins called cytokines, immune cells such as T-cells and B-cells (aka lymphocytes), macrophages, and others—to attack the virus. The result is called a “cytokine storm,” a cascade of inflammatory responses that wreak havoc on our body’s equilibrium. An overactive, confused immune system also manifests itself in autoimmune disorders such as celiac disease, asthma, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Stronger is not always better.

              Some immune system factors are beyond our control, like aging (since immunity decreases as we get older), genetics, and gender. Though women are more susceptible to autoimmune diseases and are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s (which some researchers believe may also be caused by an overactive immune system), women also tend to fend off viruses and bacteria more effectively, which is supported by their lower death rate from COVID-19.

              But there are factors we can influence, mainly nutrition, exercise, stress management, and sleep. If you ever wonder whether your daily routine can really make a difference, consider the coldsore or the canker sore, which can seem to pop up out of nowhere when you’re stressed, not sleeping well, or eating poorly. Your immune system lets down its guard (a gated-castle metaphor?), and voilà, the infection travels from where it’s been hiding in nerve cells to the mouth.

              Fiber Fueled: The Plant-Based Gut Health Program for Losing Weight, Restoring Your Health, and Optimizing Your Microbiome

              Immunity is directly linked to what you eat

              Why is diet so important? “Seventy to 80 percent of the immune system lives in the gut,” says Will Bulsiewicz, MD, a gastroenterologist in Charleston, South Carolina, and the author of Fiber Fueled: The Plant-Based Gut Health Program for LosingWeight, Restoring Health, and Optimizing Your Microbiome. “There is literally just a single layer of cells that separates the gut microbiome from our immune system. They are in constant communication.” He believes that optimizing your gut microbiome is the best way to support immunity. Bulsiewicz says that fiber, derived from plants like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and legumes, is the heart and soul of gut healing. He’s also obsessed with broccoli sprouts, saying they have 100 times the active phytochemicals of broccoli. He cites a study published in the journal Immunity in which mice with influenza were given a high-fiber diet and improved their lung function, but those on a low-fiber diet had more damage to their lung tissue and died faster. “A high-fiber diet can change what happens in your lungs in response to a virus,” he says.

              Healing the gut reduces inflammation, which is an immune response, says Mark Hyman, MD, author of 16 books about diet and health, including his latest, Food Fix. “Inflammatory diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, start in the gut. Thecytokine storm has a lot to do with the gut: If we understand how to keep our gut healthy, we will be more resilient against viral threats.” He suggests prebiotic foods, such as dandelion greens, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, apples, barley, oats, burdock root, flaxseed, seaweed, and jicama; and probiotic or fermented foods, like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, kefir, and yogurt, all of which can help restore the healthy bacteria of the microbiome.

              Food Fix: How to Save Our Health, Our Economy, Our Communities, and Our Planet–One Bite at a Time

              Little, Brown Spark
              amazon.com

              Though the jury is still out on the efficacy of supplements, many experts believe antioxidants (such as vitamins A and C and beta-carotene) and vitamin D support immunity. L.A.-based nutritionist Serena Poon, who advises clients like Kerry Washington, recommends zinc picolinate, oil of oregano, nettle leaf, quercetin, and astragalus, as well as a blend of therapeutic organic oils in a diffuser, such as wild sage, wild oregano, wild thyme, wild bay leaf, cinnamon, and cumin. And mushrooms such as reishi and cordyceps (I give Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee as gifts to friends) have been shown to enhance immunity in some limited studies. (Be sure to check with your doctor before taking any dietary supplements.)

              What not to eat is just as vital. Sugar suppresses immunity, and those at risk of high blood sugar levels—such as diabetics—have more difficulty controlling infections, which thrive on sugar. Hyman says processed food, junk food, sugars, starch, bad fats, salt, thickeners like xanthan gum, salt, and chemical additives will have an adverse effect on the microbiome, creating inflammation. He goes on to say you’re 10 times more likely to die from COVID-19 if you have heart disease, seven times more likely if you have diabetes (“One out of two Americans has diabetes or is pre-diabetic,” he notes), and three times more likely if you are obese.

              The right type of exercise can strengthen your immune system

              Even if losing weight isn’t a concern, physical exertion is critical. “Exercise has massive antiaging benefits and immune-strengthening abilities. Very active exercise makes sirtuins go up,” says Robert Huizenga, MD, a physician in Beverly Hills you may remember from NBC’s The Biggest Loser. “Sirtuins are this great control system inside the body that lowers the inflammation level. If there was ever a time to stay fit, eat healthy, and knock off central stomach fat, this is it.” He suggests intermittent fasting combined with jogging, speed-walking up inclines, swimming, and jumping rope, as well as strength and interval training. Aerobic exercise also helps reduce plaque formation in the arteries by keeping HDL levels higher.

              Stress can put your immune system’s guard down

              You may know that stress puts us into fight-or-flight mode, which stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and stress hormones like adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol. When that happens, we are focused on fighting the lion in front of us, not the virus, Richtel says. Meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, gratitude, and mindfulness are proven ways to calm the nervous system and keep stress at bay, so our bodies don’t suffer as a result.

              Studies suggest that negative mental states such as anxiety and loneliness affect immune responses, too. Married couples with a troubled relationship may have increased stress and depression, a pathway to immune dysregulation, inflammation, and poor health. And in that situation, divorce can actually be beneficial to immunity. (Married couples can also start to share some gene-related traits, such as their microbiome.) Steve Cole, PhD, a professor of medicine, psychiatry, and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA School of Medicine, studied the link between loneliness and gene expression and found that loneliness can affect a gene’s inflammatory response and our ability to fight disease. (A stressful lifestyle can also cause the body to release excess norepinephrine, which destroys the pigment-producing cells of your hair follicles, causing prematurely gray hair.)

              Stress often interferes with a good night’s sleep, which can have disastrous effects on our health. “If people don’t sleep at night, their internal clock becomes disturbed, which has all kinds of consequences for inflammation and our immune system,” Huizenga says. Melatonin is the key hormone here, which is “definitely connected to immune regulation,” Hyman notes, “and even the restriction of cancer.” He says that may be one reason why children, who naturally have higher levels of melatonin, may not be at risk of serious infection or death from COVID-19.

              Practice good hygiene (but don’t go overboard)

              Another way to keep the party crashers out is to stay scrupulously clean. Though many of the bacteria swirling in and around us are helpful to the functioning of the body, it’s not a bad idea to try to minimize harmful foreign germs (hence the constant hand-scrubbing to wash away the novel coronavirus). Be diligent about regularly washing your clothes, your home (dust mites can cause allergies!), and the food you buy, like salad greens, which may contain salmonella or E. coli. Of course, too much wiping out of good bacteria isn’t advised either, as in the case of antibiotics that kill off friendly flora in the gut.

              Amanda Chantal Bacon, founder and CEO of the wellness company Moon Juice, is living, breathing proof that all these habits can add up to an optimized immune system. “I put an autoimmune condition [Hashimoto’s] into remission when I was told by my doctors that wasn’t possible.” How? “By consciously changing my life drastically,” she says, basically doing all of the above.

              As for the future, Bulsiewicz says, there are other promising ideas, like personalized probiotics and custom dietary plans based on your individual microbiome. But many believe we have the tools right now. Huizenga stresses that if there’s a known and safe vaccine available for a virus, as there is for HPV, get it. Many people don’t. “We already know what is required to help fix the immune system: optimizing our health in every aspect,” Hyman says. We just need to do it.

              This article appears in the Summer 2020 issue of ELLE.

              This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io

              This commenting section is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page. You may be able to find more information on their web site.

        Here’s how to boost nutrition while social distancing

        Here’s how to boost nutrition while social distancing

        • July 28, 2020

        We are constantly hearing from aging friends and family that they don’t know what to cook or eat anymore! Sound familiar? Sheltering in place during the current pandemic has also complicated our relationship with food, including buying groceries, preparing meals and our rituals around the way we eat.

        A nutrient rich diet is important to support our immune system and our ability to fight off bacterial and viral infections. There is no single food, supplement or vitamin that will do this. Many nutrients are involved with the normal functioning of the immune system and therefore eating a variety of nutrient rich healthy foods each day is key. Let food be your medicine!

        Are you eating alone and missing those casual meet ups for lunch, coffee or more formal dinners? Breaking bread together is deeply embedded in our social DNA. Try an online dinner party, cook from the same menu and then share your thoughts on the recipes and food as you eat together in real time. The same virtual meal could be shared over the phone for those offline. If lack of motivation or fatigue are issues, try to cook when your energy is high, use simple healthy recipes with fewer ingredients and quick cooking time and double the recipe to freeze leftovers. If you really can’t summon the energy to cook, replace a meal with 2 or 3 easy and healthy snacks.

        Getting those five to seven servings daily of fruit and vegetables is easier than you think. Add fruit to breakfast, a cup or two of salad and a vegetable for lunch, fruit at snack time and two more at dinner and you’ve more than reached your goal. Leave raw veggies on the counter top for snacking. Add veggies to everything; sauces, pizzas, soups, stews, casseroles and purees.

        As you age, good nutrition is critical to maintaining good health, especially the following nutrients.

        Protein

        Protein is needed to build muscles and maintain strength. Protein is found in meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk products, legumes, tofu, soy beverage, nuts, and seeds. We need 1gram of protein for every kilogram of weight.

        Fibre

        Fibre helps your bowels stay active and prevents constipation. Fibre can also help keep blood sugar (glucose) and blood cholesterol levels normal.

        Fibre is found in plant foods, especially vegetables and fruits, whole grain products, nuts and seeds, and legumes. Women need 25 grams of fiber and men 30 grams.

        Beans and peas also called legumes, are an excellent way to increase both our fiber and protein intake, and help with glucose and cholesterol regulation. The Pulse Canada website (pulsecanada.com) has excellent free recipes and ideas on how to enjoy beans in both old and new ways. Like veggies, beans can be added to everything! They have the added bonus of being budget friendly and having a long shelf life. Try organizing a virtual dinner or social distancing picnic around pulse-based dishes. You will also be contributing to sustainable agriculture.

        Another frequent question is around vitamin supplements. Research to date does not support the use of large vitamin doses. However, three vitamins in particular are worthy of special attention. Calcium, Vitamin D and B12 are absorbed less efficiently as we age. Calcium is essential for healthy bones and Vit D helps you absorb the calcium. If you are spending less time outside these days, you may not be getting Vit D through the action of the sun on your skin. Both Calcium and Vit D are critical to preventing osteoporosis. Adults over the age of 50 need to eat foods fortified with vitamin B12 or take a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement containing vitamin B12. Consult with your health care provider, pharmacist or dietician around dosing.

        Currently, there are no cases reported of COVID-19 being spread through food but we do avoid sharing utensils and dishes with people outside our household. Safe food handling practices are otherwise unchanged. They include handwashing before and after handling food. Cleaning and disinfecting food preparation surfaces. Use running water to wash fruits and vegetables. Soap, chlorine or other chemicals are not recommended.

        Grocery shopping tips include selecting grocery stores that sanitize grocery cart handles, use the hand sanitizers, if available and wear a mask! Maintain physical distancing and avoid touching items you are not going to purchase. Before you go, organize your list to limit the amount of time you spend indoors.

        Online payment or tap and go payment options should be used when possible. Ordering online can reduce the stress of in person shopping. Food can be dropped at the doorstep. Wash your hands after handling the items delivered and again after handling food and food packaging.

        Individuals with specialized or complex dietary can consult a dietitian through your family doctor or specialist. Large grocery stores provide dietician services for a fee. Or visit Find a Dietitian. Resources on the net abound. The Canada Food Guide website has great resources including many delicious recipes. https://food-guide.canada.ca/

        Resources

        https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Seniors

        https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Seniors-nutrition/A-Guide-to-Healthy-Eating-for-Older-Adults.aspx

        Get the latest in your inbox

        Never miss the latest news from The Spectator, including up-to-date coronavirus coverage, with our email newsletters.

        Sign Up Now

        Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/

        https://osteoporosis.ca/bone-health-osteoporosis/nutrition/nutrition/

        http://www.cookspiration.com/

        Anne Pizzacalla is a Board Member, Hamilton Council on Aging, Blair Makey is a Registered Dietitian, St Josephs Healthcare Hamilton. For information or to make a donation to the Hamilton Council on Aging please visit coahamilton.ca

        Nutrition boosts your immunity | Deccan Herald

        Nutrition boosts your immunity | Deccan Herald

        • July 27, 2020

        Immunity is the buzzword of 2020, thanks to the prevailing pandemic. Here are some basics that can help you build your immunity.

        Immunity is the ability of an organism to resist an infection or toxin with specific antibodies or sensitised blood cells. This means your body contains adequate defences to fight infection, allergy or any form of invasion.

        The first line of defence comes from the skin, mucus membrane, acid in the stomach, sweat, tears and immune cells that attack all foreign cells that enter the body. This is called innate immunity. Acquired or adaptive immunity, on the other hand, is learnt by the body. When a foreign substance enters your body, the immune cells that are specific to that harmful substance attack and destroy it. 

        There are natural and lifestyle causes for a reduction in immunity. Age is a natural cause. As you grow older, your immune system becomes less able.

        A diet that is high in refined foods, ultra-processed foods, sugar, trans fat, and low in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, can result in chronic inflammation of the gut and suppress immunity.

        Many nutrients play a role in building and maintaining immune health. 

        Vitamin A is found in yellow/orange coloured fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, organ meat. Examples – mango, papaya, carrot, pumpkin, amaranth leaves, drumstick leaves, liver, egg yolk.

        Vitamin C is found in Indian gooseberry (amla), guava, citrus fruits, leafy greens, coloured peppers. Examples – orange, lemon, sweet lime, drumstick leaves, parsley, green capsicum.

        Vitamin D is in sunlight, fish, egg yolk, fortified milk. Vitamin E – nuts such as almonds.

        Vitamin B6 is in meats, seeds, whole grains. Examples – fish, egg yolk, chicken, brown rice, maize, wheat germ, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds. Vitamin B12 is in animal foods. Examples – fish, meat, egg, milk.

        Folate comes from leafy greens, whole grains. Examples – colocasia leaves, spinach, parsley, maize, pearl millet (bajra), foxtail millet, channa, horse gram, field beans. Zinc comes from seeds, dals, meats. Examples – amaranth seeds, sesame seeds, channa dal, urad dal, poultry, mutton. Iron is in dry fruits, pulses, dark green leafy vegetables. Examples – dry dates, black currants, horse gram, soybean, fenugreek leaves, coriander leaves, curry leaves, mint leaves. Selenium is in millets, pulses, leafy greens, papaya, egg, chicken. Examples – pearl millet (bajra), little millet, rajma, beet greens, mustard leaves, radish leaves, curry leaves, mint leaves.

        Protein comes from pulses, dals, dairy, nuts, seeds, egg, meats. Examples – channa, rajma, tur dal, moong dal, milk, curd, almonds, chia seeds, chicken, fish.

        Bioactive molecules present in spices are involved in immunity and regulation of inflammation. Some of the common spices that play a role in maintaining immunity are turmeric, onion, garlic, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, chillies and capsicum.

        Nutrition experts and organisations have always advocated well-balanced meals. A balanced meal provides all the necessary nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, fat, fibre), which are derived from natural food sources like cereals, millets, pulses, dals, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, dairy, fats and oils, eaten in the right proportion.

        Exercise influences the functioning of the immune system. It is believed that prolonged periods of intense exercise can depress immunity and lead to inflammation, but regular moderate-intensity exercise is beneficial as it reduces inflammation.

        In a nutshell, follow a healthy lifestyle to maintain immune health – eat a well-balanced diet, sleep 7-8 hours daily, exercise for 45-60 minutes daily, include small bursts of physical activity throughout the day, cut stress and get direct sunlight on your skin daily.

        (The writer is a nutrition and wellness consultant)

        Protein Week 2020: Focus on nutrition to boost your immunity

        Focus on nutrition to boost your immunity

        • July 24, 2020

        New Delhi: Due to the fear of Covid-19 pandemic, ‘immunity’ has replaced weight loss as the new ‘It’ word. Everyone is either talking about ways to boost it or what to eat to keep immunity levels high. And rightly so, as prevention seems to be the only way to give the rampant infection a skip.

        The only way we ensure a robust immunity is to work actively at boosting it and focus on one’s diet and lifestyle.

        To get a tough immune system, we need to follow a few lifestyle course corrections like ensuring you get enough sleep, exercising regularly, keeping stress in check and eating the right foods that provide macro and micronutrients.

        We need to focus specifically on protein, as this macronutrient is made up of amino acids which are utilized by the body to manufacture antibodies to protect us against a wide range of infections states Kavita Devgan, Nutritionist and weight management consultant.

        Unfortunately though this is a challenge that needs to be taken head on as a recent study done by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and CGIAR research program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) has revealed that across all strata of society, Indians have excess consumption of cereals but not enough proteins, fruits, and vegetables in their diets, and thus on the nutrition front Indian diets are below optimal, she points out.

        To mark Protein Week 2020 that begins on July 24, Devgan suggests how you can ensure you score enough:

        • Definitely include a good protein source in all three main meals of the day and additionally have a protein snack every day too.
        • Look closely at your plate to check whether you are eating enough foods such as meats, eggs, dairy, seafood, nuts, seeds, legumes and beans that deliver a good amount of protein.
        • Include mixed nuts and seeds in your diet. Cashews, almonds, walnuts, peanuts and all seeds are loaded with protein, so mix them up, sprinkle a bit of herbs and pepper and munch on them. Blend them into nut butters and spread on bread and crackers or toss them into your bowl of oats or muesli.
        • Focus on lentils and beans. At 15-18 grams of protein per cooked cup (240 ml), lentils are a great source of protein.
        • Include high protein grains like quinoa, bajra, buckwheat and amaranth that deliver good amount to your diet.
        • Not all food sources of protein contain all the nine essential amino acids our body requires. Food of animal origin such as egg, milk provide high quality protein while plant sources are low in protein quality. As majority of the protein in Indian diets comes from vegetarian sources, our diets tend to be low in quality protein.
        • A balanced diet is the way to ensure enough protein. Balance your protein. Combine plant foods wisely to cover all essential amino acids. For example, legumes (cooked dried beans, dried peas, and lentils) are low in sulfur-containing amino acids (such as methionine), but they are high in another amino acid called lysine. Grains (rice, wheat, bajra, etc.) are just the opposite. So, by eating both together or during the course of a day, you can get what you need. Dal chawal, khichri, pita bread with hummus are good examples of complementary proteins.
        • If your protein need is not being met by your diet or the needs are high (like in the elderly, the teenagers, the pregnant and lactation women or those recovering from an illness), supplementation with a high-quality protein source could help to bridge the gap.
        • It’s time to take protein seriously, add it adequately to your daily diet, to prevent serious health issues and keep your immune function optimum.

        –IANS

        Protein Week 2020: Focus on nutrition to boost immunity

        Protein Week 2020: Focus on nutrition to boost immunity

        • July 24, 2020

        Group of important proteins, meats, fish, dairy, eggs, white meat on a wooden table as background, Shot from above (Photo: iStock)

        By Puja Gupta

        New Delhi– Due to the fear of Covid-19 pandemic, ‘immunity’ has replaced weight loss as the new ‘It’ word. Everyone is either talking about ways to boost it or what to eat to keep immunity levels high. And rightly so, as prevention seems to be the only way to give the rampant infection a skip.

        The only way we ensure a robust immunity is to work actively at boosting it and focus on one’s diet and lifestyle.

        To get a tough immune system, we need to follow a few lifestyle course corrections like ensuring you get enough sleep, exercising regularly, keeping stress in check and eating the right foods that provide macro and micronutrients.

        We need to focus specifically on protein, as this macronutrient is made up of amino acids which are utilized by the body to manufacture antibodies to protect us against a wide range of infections states Kavita Devgan, Nutritionist and weight management consultant.

        Unfortunately though this is a challenge that needs to be taken head on as a recent study done by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and CGIAR research program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) has revealed that across all strata of society, Indians have excess consumption of cereals but not enough proteins, fruits, and vegetables in their diets, and thus on the nutrition front Indian diets are below optimal, she points out.

        To mark Protein Week 2020 that begins on July 24, Devgan suggests how you can ensure you score enough:

        Definitely include a good protein source in all three main meals of the day and additionally have a protein snack every day too.

        Look closely at your plate to check whether you are eating enough foods such as meats, eggs, dairy, seafood, nuts, seeds, legumes and beans that deliver a good amount of protein.

        Include mixed nuts and seeds in your diet. Cashews, almonds, walnuts, peanuts and all seeds are loaded with protein, so mix them up, sprinkle a bit of herbs and pepper and munch on them. Blend them into nut butters and spread on bread and crackers or toss them into your bowl of oats or muesli.

        Focus on lentils and beans. At 15-18 grams of protein per cooked cup (240 ml), lentils are a great source of protein.

        Include high protein grains like quinoa, bajra, buckwheat and amaranth that deliver good amount to your diet.

        Not all food sources of protein contain all the nine essential amino acids our body requires. Food of animal origin such as egg, milk provide high quality protein while plant sources are low in protein quality. As majority of the protein in Indian diets comes from vegetarian sources, our diets tend to be low in quality protein.

        A balanced diet is the way to ensure enough protein. Balance your protein. Combine plant foods wisely to cover all essential amino acids. For example, legumes (cooked dried beans, dried peas, and lentils) are low in sulfur-containing amino acids (such as methionine), but they are high in another amino acid called lysine. Grains (rice, wheat, bajra, etc.) are just the opposite. So, by eating both together or during the course of a day, you can get what you need. Dal chawal, khichri, pita bread with hummus are good examples of complementary proteins.

        If your protein need is not being met by your diet or the needs are high (like in the elderly, the teenagers, the pregnant and lactation women or those recovering from an illness), supplementation with a high-quality protein source could help to bridge the gap.

        It’s time to take protein seriously, add it adequately to your daily diet, to prevent serious health issues and keep your immune function optimum. (IANS)

        Focus on nutrition to boost immunity

        Focus on nutrition to boost immunity

        • July 24, 2020

        New Delhi:  Due to the fear of Covid-19 pandemic, ‘immunity’ has replaced weight loss as the new ‘It’ word. Everyone is either talking about ways to boost it or what to eat to keep immunity levels high. And rightly so, as prevention seems to be the only way to give the rampant infection a skip.

        The only way we ensure a robust immunity is to work actively at boosting it and focus on one’s diet and lifestyle.

        To get a tough immune system, we need to follow a few lifestyle course corrections like ensuring you get enough sleep, exercising regularly, keeping stress in check and eating the right foods that provide macro and micronutrients.

        We need to focus specifically on protein, as this macronutrient is made up of amino acids which are utilized by the body to manufacture antibodies to protect us against a wide range of infections states Kavita Devgan, Nutritionist and weight management consultant.

        Unfortunately though this is a challenge that needs to be taken head on as a recent study done by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and CGIAR research program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) has revealed that across all strata of society, Indians have excess consumption of cereals but not enough proteins, fruits, and vegetables in their diets, and thus on the nutrition front Indian diets are below optimal, she points out.

        To mark Protein Week 2020 that begins on July 24, Devgan suggests how you can ensure you score enough:

        Definitely include a good protein source in all three main meals of the day and additionally have a protein snack every day too.

        Look closely at your plate to check whether you are eating enough foods such as meats, eggs, dairy, seafood, nuts, seeds, legumes and beans that deliver a good amount of protein.

        Include mixed nuts and seeds in your diet. Cashews, almonds, walnuts, peanuts and all seeds are loaded with protein, so mix them up, sprinkle a bit of herbs and pepper and munch on them. Blend them into nut butters and spread on bread and crackers or toss them into your bowl of oats or muesli.

        Focus on lentils and beans. At 15-18 grams of protein per cooked cup (240 ml), lentils are a great source of protein.

        Include high protein grains like quinoa, bajra, buckwheat and amaranth that deliver good amount to your diet.

        Not all food sources of protein contain all the nine essential amino acids our body requires. Food of animal origin such as egg, milk provide high quality protein while plant sources are low in protein quality. As majority of the protein in Indian diets comes from vegetarian sources, our diets tend to be low in quality protein.

        A balanced diet is the way to ensure enough protein. Balance your protein. Combine plant foods wisely to cover all essential amino acids. For example, legumes (cooked dried beans, dried peas, and lentils) are low in sulfur-containing amino acids (such as methionine), but they are high in another amino acid called lysine. Grains (rice, wheat, bajra, etc.) are just the opposite. So, by eating both together or during the course of a day, you can get what you need. Dal chawal, khichri, pita bread with hummus are good examples of complementary proteins.

        If your protein need is not being met by your diet or the needs are high (like in the elderly, the teenagers, the pregnant and lactation women or those recovering from an illness), supplementation with a high-quality protein source could help to bridge the gap.

        It’s time to take protein seriously, add it adequately to your daily diet, to prevent serious health issues and keep your immune function optimum.

        Ensure the adequate intake of nutrition to boost immunity

        Ensure the adequate intake of nutrition to boost immunity

        • July 18, 2020

        New Delhi: What you eat and what you do not eat has a significant effect on your overall health. An unhealthy diet can increase the risk of diseases by many folds. Healthy dietary modifications are important to boost immunity and control degenerative diseases.

        Sandhya Pandey, Chief Clinical Nutritionist, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram shares the following to ensure adequate nutrition:

        Follow a rainbow diet – Make sure that you have 7-8 servings of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables. These are rich in phytochemicals (plant nutrients), a potent disease-fighting and immune-boosting nutrient. The more the different or variety of colors you include in your diet, the more it will benefit your health as different colours are rich in different phytochemicals. Vegetables and fruits are the best sources of antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and selenium.

        Flavourful immunity – Boosting spices and foods like garlic, ginger, turmeric not only add flavour, but also add a cancer-fighting punch of valuable nutrients. Other good choices include basil, rosemary, and coriander. Use them in soups, salads, casseroles, or any other dish.

        Pump up your protein intake – by having pulses, beans and legumes, lean meat, eggs, low fat milk and milk products.

        Have healthy carbohydrates – from whole grains, cereals and millets like oats, barley, ragi etc which is loaded with fiber and essential nutrients rather than refined flour and sugar.

        Focus on plant foods – Plants have less fat, more fiber, and more cancer-fighting nutrients. These 3 elements work together in best ways to support your immune system and it helps your body to fight cancer.

        Increase fiber in diet – Evidence consistently suggests that eating plenty of fiber can reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancers. Increase fibre in diet by incorporating whole grains, pulses and legumes, fruits and vegetables.

        Add probiotics like yogurt and fermented food in diet – This will boost your immunity and gut health.

        Cut down on red and processed – meat, tinned, canned and preserved food which is loaded with sodium and preservatives. These are also low in fibre and high on calories, saturated fats and trans fats.

        Cut down on saturated – fats and trans fats while increase the intake of w-3 fatty acid from fatty fish, flax seeds, almonds, walnuts etc.

        Follow healthy cooking practices:

        Do not cook oils on high heat.

        Go easy on the barbecue.

        Be careful what you put in the microwave.

        When cooking vegetables, steam until just tender using a small amount of water.

        Wash all fruits and vegetables

        Reduce the intake of alcohol and quit smoking – Consuming alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, breast and liver. The risk is even more for those who smoke. Alcohol has also been associated with colon and rectal cancers. To minimise the risk, men should take less than two standard drinks a day, whereas for women this limit should be one standard drink a day.

        (Inputs from IANS)

        Ensure the adequate intake of nutrition

        Ensure the adequate intake of nutrition

        • July 18, 2020

        New Delhi: What you eat and what you do not eat has a significant effect on your overall health. An unhealthy diet intake of nutritioncan increase the risk of diseases by many folds. Healthy dietary modifications are important to boost immunity and control degenerative diseases.

        Sandhya Pandey, Chief Clinical Nutritionist, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram shares the following to ensure adequate nutrition:

        Follow a rainbow diet – Make sure that you have 7-8 servings of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables. These are rich in phytochemicals (plant nutrients), a potent disease-fighting and immune-boosting nutrient. The more the different or variety of colors you include in your diet, the more it will benefit your health as different colours are rich in different phytochemicals. Vegetables and fruits are the best sources of antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and selenium.

        Flavourful immunity – Boosting spices and foods like garlic, ginger, turmeric not only add flavour, but also add a cancer-fighting punch of valuable nutrients. Other good choices include basil, rosemary, and coriander. Use them in soups, salads, casseroles, or any other dish.

        Pump up your protein intake – by having pulses, beans and legumes, lean meat, eggs, low fat milk and milk products.

        Have healthy carbohydrates – from whole grains, cereals and millets like oats, barley, ragi etc which is loaded with fiber and essential nutrients rather than refined flour and sugar.

        Focus on plant foods – Plants have less fat, more fiber, and more cancer-fighting nutrients. These 3 elements work together in best ways to support your immune system and it helps your body to fight cancer.

        Increase fiber in diet – Evidence consistently suggests that eating plenty of fiber can reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancers. Increase fibre in diet by incorporating whole grains, pulses and legumes, fruits and vegetables.

        Add probiotics like yogurt and fermented food in diet – This will boost your immunity and gut health.

        Cut down on red and processed – meat, tinned, canned and preserved food which is loaded with sodium and preservatives. These are also low in fibre and high on calories, saturated fats and trans fats.

        Cut down on saturated – fats and trans fats while increase the intake of w-3 fatty acid from fatty fish, flax seeds, almonds, walnuts etc.

        Follow healthy cooking practices:

        Do not cook oils on high heat.

        Go easy on the barbecue.

        Be careful what you put in the microwave.

        When cooking vegetables, steam until just tender using a small amount of water.

        Wash all fruits and vegetables

        Reduce the intake of alcohol and quit smoking – Consuming alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, breast and liver. The risk is even more for those who smoke. Alcohol has also been associated with colon and rectal cancers. To minimise the risk, men should take less than two standard drinks a day, whereas for women this limit should be one standard drink a day.

        Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!