Study: Clinical, laboratory, and temporal predictors of neutralizing antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 among COVID-19 convalescent plasma donor candidates. Image Credit: Cryptographer / Shutterstock

Study predicts good passive immunotherapy donors to combat COVID-19

  • January 19, 2021

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), continues to spread worldwide. Since the virus first emerged in late-2019, over 95.55 million cases and more than 2 million deaths have been reported.

Study: Clinical, laboratory, and temporal predictors of neutralizing antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 among COVID-19 convalescent plasma donor candidates. Image Credit: Cryptographer / Shutterstock

Many countries have commenced targeted vaccination efforts to control the spread of the virus and immunize vulnerable groups. However, vaccine rollout may still lag behind ongoing infections, as fast-spreading new variants threaten many countries. Finding an effective therapy to help patients fight the infection remains crucial.

Passive immunotherapy treatment, wherein SARS-CoV-2-neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) from the plasma of recovered patients are administered to acutely sick patients, is a promising method for COVID-19 treatment in severe cases.

A team of researchers at the University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and the National Institute of Health, USA, recently studied the neutralizing antibodies from patients recovering from COVID-19 to investigate which clinical factors predict good passive immunotherapy donors.

In the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the research team measured SARS-CoV-2-nAb titers in the plasma of 250 people with SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Convalescent plasma

In the USA, convalescent plasma therapy for COVID-19 patients was approved under emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on August 23, 2020. This mode of therapy uses antibody-containing blood from recovered individuals to help promote passive immunity in severely ill patients still battling the infection.

Blood donated by people who have recovered from COVID-19 is processed to remove blood cells, leaving behind the plasma and neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.

The plasma given to severely ill patients will help boost the body’s immune system. In a recent phase II clinical trial in Argentina, scientists found that convalescent plasma with high levels of neutralizing antibodies, particularly when given early in the infection, had a marked beneficial health impact.

Yet, not all SARS-CoV-2-infected people produce a strong neutralizing antibody response. Hence, convalescent plasma from donors should be screened for SARS-CoV-2-neutralizing antibody activity to make sure the recovered patients are suitable donors.

The study

In the current study, the researchers tested the serum of 250 potential convalescent plasma donors with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein S1 domain, nucleoprotein (NP), and for neutralizing antibodies.

The team found that among the participants, 97 percent were seropositive on one or more assays. About 60 percent of the donors had nAb titers. The correlates of higher nAb titer included old age, male, and severity of the illness. Also, patients with more severe COVID-19 symptoms, like the difficulty of breathing and fever, had higher levels of neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.

Moreover, a longer period between the infection and antibody screening had decreased nAb titers. The study results showed that severe COVID-19 illness produces higher levels of antibodies than less severe illness. This also means that the neutralizing antibodies in the blood of recovered patients wane over time.

COVID-19 seems to be one of a group of infections where the sicker one is, and presumably the more virus and therefore the more antigen that is around, the higher the levels of antibody,” Dr. David Koelle of the Koelle Laboratory, University of Washington, said in a statement.

He explained that the potential cause of this discrepancy is that the immune system in people who had a severe illness, was not effective in stopping it. There is a probable temporal race between the proliferation of the virus and host adaptive immunity.

The researchers concluded that nAb titers correlated with disease severity, sex, and age. Also, they suggested that commercially available SARS-CoV-2 immunoglobulin G (IgG) results can become an alternative for nAb testing.

Functional nAb levels were found to decline and a small proportion of persons recovered from COVID-19 lack adaptive immune responses,” they added.

Source:

Journal reference:

Leslie Bonci on how to support your immune system during this pandemic winter

Leslie Bonci on how to support your immune system during this pandemic winter

  • January 18, 2021

When Leslie Bonci talks about what to eat, people listen.

Bonci is a local nutritionist with a big national following. She consults for the Kansas City Chiefs, Carnegie Mellon University athletics and the National Dairy Council. She was also the sports dietitian for the Steelers, Pirates, Penguins and the Women’s National Basketball Association.

Her first message? You are in control.


“The reality is that we have that ability to control what we choose to eat or choose not to eat from the standpoint of helping to support a healthy immune system. That’s the goal right now,” says Bonci. “That would certainly be the goal any winter, but it’s critically important right now as we’re all doing the best we can to stay healthy.”

An array of foods that support the immune system. Photo courtesy of Leslie Bonci.

Bonci warns that you should be skeptical of anything claiming to “boost” your immune system — there are a lot of health products that make that claim. However, you can support your immune system through what you eat, which is an important distinction.

“It’s physiologically impossible to boost it,” says Bonci. “So, supporting it means that we’re doing the right things, taking care of all aspects of keeping your cells healthy.”

A lot of people think they can take an immunity chewable or a CBD caramel and call it a day but that’s not good enough.

“The reality is that the immune system or 75% of our immune system is in the gut,” she says. “We really have to make sure that we eat the things that help support a healthy microbiome where there’s good bacteria in the gut.”

Here are the things your body needs to support its immune system, Bonci notes:

Carbohydrates. Think whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and dairy foods like yogurt and milk. “The carbohydrate is a critical component of supporting a healthy immune system,” adds Bonci. Number one, carbohydrates help to reduce stress hormones. And they support the good bacteria in the gut because they provide the foods for the probiotics in the gut.”

Protein. “Protein helps to support white blood cell formation, and that’s important for supporting a healthy immune system,” says Bonci. You can get protein with meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, dairy and eggs. Or plant-based foods such as beans, peas, lentils and nuts.

• Vitamin D. Obviously, in a gloomy Pittsburgh winter, you won’t get much D from the sun. “It has a role to play in supporting the lymphocytes, which are the body’s defense mechanism to keep our immune system healthy,” says Bonci. She suggests you eat salmon, trout, even certain mushrooms and cereals that are fortified with vitamin D.

• Vitamin C. No, taking a 1,000-milligram Airborne supplement is not the answer. “You need to have enough vitamin C, but more is not necessarily better,” says Bonci. “It needs to be at least 200 milligrams a day. And sometimes a little bit more if we’re feeling somewhat under the weather. So citrus fruits, citrus juice, peppers, broccoli, potatoes, kiwi, strawberries and tomatoes are all sources of vitamin C.”

• Zinc. Zinc is another thing your immune system needs because it’s an antioxidant. It can be found abundantly in oysters, red meat and fortified breakfast cereals. “It may also help in the first 24 hours after onset of infection, to help to suppress that infection, to a certain extent,” explains Bonci. “But again, it’s not just like taking a zinc lozenge, and then I don’t think about the rest of my diet. It’s one thing among many.”

• Probiotics. “Probiotics are the good bacteria, and we want to have enough of them in our gut,” explains Bonci.  Yogurt and kefir (a fermented milk drink), kimchi, pickles and sauerkraut are all good for this. Think: things that are fermented.

• Omega-3. Fatty acids also have a positive effect on your immune system. They’re primarily found in coldwater fish, so salmon is a big one, along with mackerel, walnuts and chia.

And note as you take stock of your diet. “It’s not just one thing, it’s all of those things together that really help to support a healthy immune system and do a better job overall of nourishing the body,” says Bonci.

So what would that ideal plate look like to support your immune system?

It would be a plate that would be 50% produce — fruits and vegetables — about 30% protein, such as fish, poultry or tofu, and the remaining 25% coming from a grain such as pasta, rice, quinoa or potatoes, she says.

Fresh produce isn’t the only way to get these nutrients in the winter. Frozen is fine, she says, and canned goods, especially canned fish work. “That’s simple,” Bonci says, “It’s cheaper and it works.”

'Microbiomes' Might Influence COVID-19 Severity

‘Microbiomes’ Might Influence COVID-19 Severity

  • January 13, 2021

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 13, 2021 (HealthDay News) — The bacteria in your gut may play a role in the severity of COVID-19 infection and the strength of your immune system response, a new study suggests.

Not only that, imbalances in the microbiome may cause continued inflammatory symptoms, often called “long-haul” COVID, the researchers added.

“Imbalance in the microbiome contributes to the severity of COVID-19, and if it persists after viral clearance, could contribute to persistent symptoms and multi-system inflammation syndromes like long COVID syndrome,” said lead researcher Dr. Siew Ng, a professor from the Institute of Digestive Disease at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

“Restoration of the missing beneficial bacteria might boost our immunity against SARS-CoV2 virus and hasten recovery from the disease,” she said. “Managing COVID-19 should not only aim at clearing the virus, but also restoring the gut microbiota.”

The study, however, can’t prove that imbalances in the microbiome cause COVID-19 to be more severe, only that there appears to be an association between the virus and bacteria in the gut, Ng said.

But evidence is growing that gut bacteria are linked to inflammatory diseases, she noted.

For the study, the researchers studied blood and stool samples from 100 patients with COVID-19 and from 78 people without the infection who were part of a microbiome study before the pandemic began.

They found that in 274 stool samples the gut microbiome differed significantly between patients with and without COVID-19, regardless if they had been given drugs, including antibiotics.

For example, those with COVID-19 had fewer types of bacteria that can affect the immune system response than those without the infection. The reduced number of these bacteria was linked to the severity of the infection.

Moreover, the number of these bacteria remained low up to 30 days after infected patients had cleared the virus, the researchers found.

COVID-19 triggers the immune system to make inflammatory cytokines, and in some cases, this response can be excessive, causing widespread tissue damage, septic shock and organ failure.

Analysis of the blood samples found that the microbial imbalance in the COVID-19 patients was linked with high levels of inflammatory cytokines and blood markers of tissue damage, such as C-reactive protein.

Springfield health leaders warn of more side-effects with second dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Springfield health leaders warn of more side-effects with second dose of COVID-19 vaccine

  • January 13, 2021

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Springfield health leaders advise side-effects after the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine may be different than those experienced after the first round of the vaccine.

The Director of Food Services at Mercy Tyler Gant says after the first round of the COVID-19 vaccine, he only felt pain at the injection site.

“It felt like somebody had punched me in the arm,” Gant says.

After his second dose of the vaccine, Gant says his side-effects were a bit more severe.

“Round two I had some chills, some achy muscles and a dull headache for about 36 hours,” Gant says.

Gant says before he was vaccinated, he was informed that the side effects could be worse after the second dose. He says that’s what he and other coworkers at Mercy have experienced so far.

“The side-effects of the vaccine I think pale in comparison to the effects of COVID so I would much rather have discomfort for a day or two than end up in one of our ICU’s,” Gant says.

CoxHealth’s infectious disease doctor, Dr. Robin Trotman, says the first dose prepares your immune system with a blueprint to start making antibodies before giving the second dose to really boost the immune system.

“That imprints that spike protein immunity into your white blood cells, into your memory cells and your helper cells and into your bone marrow and your lymph nodes and your spleen and your thymus so that over time, you’ve got memory so that when you get exposed in the future, you can rapidly respond and fight that infection,” Dr. Trotman says.

CoxHealth tells KY3none of its staff have gotten the second dose of the vaccine, yet but the hospital is telling its employees to prepare for things like fatigue or headaches after the second dose.

“Really it’s not surprising that the booster vaccine that’s given at either three or four weeks have more of those systemic effects like fatigue, a fever, the injection site reaction is a little higher with maybe some swelling,” Dr. Trotman says.

Gant says he started out skeptical of the vaccine but after doing research and talking to health leaders at Mercy, he decided it was crucial that he get vaccinated.

“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” Gant says. “It’s something that I can do to help protect my family and my coworkers and the community.”

Gant says those side effects he experienced only lasted for about 36 hours and were similar to side effects from a flu vaccine.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com

Copyright 2021 KY3. All rights reserved.

Four important immune system supplements to keep you healthy during the pandemic

Four important immune system supplements to keep you healthy during the pandemic

  • January 13, 2021
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com

SCIENCE | COVID-19 | Never before has it been so important for citizens worldwide to boost their immune systems. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to gain victims in every country, people are looking for ways that they can naturally strengthen their own body’s defenses against this fatal infection.As millions of people follow strict quarantine and social distancing regulations in every country, many are wondering if wearing masks and using hand sanitizer is enough. Without a healthy immune system, an infection of this kind of coronavirus bacteria could be very serious.

The good news is, that there are many natural ways through your diet with which you can give your immune system the improvement it needs. Along with following the recommended CDC guidelines, strengthening your immune system is possible, especially when adding the right nutrients and vitamins through daily supplements from Designs For Health. Let’s look at a few supplements that can help you boost your immunity.

Omega-3’s

When your body is under stress, it puts a huge strain on your immune system. Your body needs to work harder to deal with mild inflammations while under stress not leaving enough strength in your system to efficiently deal with invasions of infection or bacteria. Omega-3 amino acids work to reduce cellular stress that can lead to strain on your immune health. Adding foods like fish, fish oils, algae or a blended supplement can help your body to fight back against infection.

Probiotics

The healthy bacteria that make up general probiotics can help to boost your immune system. The role of probiotics is to ensure the healthy processing of nutrients while providing a strong barrier against harmful bacteria and inflammation. Your immune response is often kicked into high gear when you have inflammation in any part of your body making it less capable of dealing with an external infection. Foods that are fermented like kefir and sauerkraut contain good levels of probiotics. Yogurt is one of the most commonly preferred sources of probiotics and is tolerable for most people.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a vital role in the production of antimicrobial peptides throughout the body. These peptides contain essential antibacterial and antibiotic properties that help the immune system to fight off foreign bacteria like COVID-19. Apart from spending time in the sun, which is the most common natural source of Vitamin D, you can add a supplement to your diet to ensure that you don’t become deficient, especially during the time spent in quarantine.

Curcumin

Curcumin is the extract that gives Turmeric the orange-yellow pigment and distinct flavoring. Known for its powerful antioxidant properties, Curcumin works to support many of the systems in the body including immune health. Curcumin has been proven to promote a healthy immune cell response when the body is threatened by infection or harmful bacteria. Taking pure natural forms of Curcumin in your diet can be effective, however, adding a blended supplement can aid in proper absorption at the cellular level giving you better results.

In the age of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to ensure that your immune system is as strong and healthy as possible. Following quarantine restrictions, social distancing guidelines including wearing a mask in public and adding one of these important supplements to your diet can help boost your natural defenses.

January salad sales are spiking as normal despite the Bay Area's pandemic comfort food boom

January salad sales are spiking as normal despite the Bay Area’s pandemic comfort food boom

  • January 12, 2021

The boom in juice cleanses, salads and diet plans that typically comes with the new year is still going strong despite the pandemic. Bay Area health food companies say they’re seeing their usual January uptick in business — and that sales have been stable or growing since COVID first hit in the Bay Area last year.

That diverges from the greater narrative of comfort food sweeping local restaurants over the past several months, with many chefs seeing high demand for fried chicken sandwiches, pizzas and smashburgers. Hashtags like #quarantine15 proliferated. As it turns out, health-minded Bay Area continued to buy green juices and macro bowls in droves.

“One of the things we’re seeing is this real connection to overall health and what you’re putting into your body in terms of building up your immune system and having all the vitamins and nutrients you need to stay healthy,” said Leslie Silverglide, CEO of local salad chain Mixt. “I think that’s because of COVID.”

To be clear, vitamins don’t prevent the coronavirus — public health officials recommend masking and social distancing as the best lines of defense. While there haven’t been any scientific studies linking nutrition to COVID-19 prevention, some reports highlight vitamins C and D as being potentially beneficial for individuals at risk of respiratory viral infections. The World Health Organization has also issued nutrition advice during the pandemic, stating people who eat a well-balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables tend to have stronger immune systems.

Plenty of cuisines offer dishes that could be considered healthy; ultimately, the definition of “healthy” varies by person. But the Bay Area businesses that market themselves as health food or wellness companies are seeing a significant response during the pandemic. After the first round of COVID-related shutdowns in 2020 and stores like San Francisco’s Project Juice began to reopen, fans rushed over for organic cold-pressed juices packed with greens, ginger and citrus.

“People come in and say, ‘What should I have? I want to feel healthy,’” said Project Juice co-founder Marra St. Clair.

Bottled cold-pressed juices at Project Juice in San Francisco. The cafes have been selling more immunity juices since the pandemic began as customers look to boost their health.

Project Juice, which has six Bay Area locations, typically sells 10 times more juice cleanses — diet plans that only involve vegetable and fruit juices — than usual in January as New Year’s resolutions set in, and this year is no different. Throughout the pandemic, St. Clair said her company has seen an uptick in daily purchases, which she partially credits to people tired of cooking and not wanting to wash their blender at home.

Urban Remedy, an organic and vegan food company with 13 Bay Area storefronts, has similarly seen consumers draw a clear line between food and health, according to CEO Paul Coletta. Sales of “wellness shots,” 4-oz daily hits of turmeric to boost the immune system, have more than doubled during the pandemic.

“That seems to be the preferred platform for immunity — they’re relatively inexpensive and designed to be used daily,” Coletta said.

Urban Remedy sells organic food and juices in spaces such as Whole Foods, seen in 2018. The Bay Area company is seeing strong January sales.

Business has also been strong at Mixt, which is growing with brand new delivery-only locations in San Jose and Lafayette. This year’s January bump mirrors previous years, with sales as strong as the busiest, sunniest days of summer.

Silverglide has also seen the comfort food trend hit Mixt in the form of unusually high Caesar salad sales. At the same time, she’s heard customers talk about using the pandemic as a way to refocus on wellness.

“Everyone has talked about gaining ‘the COVID 19,’” she said, referring to a trend of weight gain early on in the pandemic. “But we’re also seeing a lot of examples of people who have gone the other way, who have more time to focus on eating or fitness. That’s been an awakening for some people.”

Janelle Bitker is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: janelle.bitker@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @janellebitker

Moderna Says Its Covid-19 Vaccine Provides One Year’s Immunity

Moderna Says Its Covid-19 Vaccine Provides One Year’s Immunity

  • January 12, 2021

Topline

Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine should provide immunity from disease for at least one year after vaccination, the company announced at a conference Monday, Reuters reports, adding that the company is “on track” to deliver at least 600 million doses of the vaccine in 2021. 

Key Facts

Speaking at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference Monday, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said immunity from the company’s Covid-19 vaccine, one of just two approved for emergency use in the U.S., should last for at least a year.

While clinical trials showed the vaccine to be highly effective at preventing disease, they do not show precisely how long this immunity will last and it is possible that a new coronavirus vaccine will be required on a regular basis to boost the immune system after this year long period has passed.

New variants of the virus can also learn to evade the protection offered by vaccines, and Moderna said it is well placed to respond to new variants of coronavirus, such as highly infectious variants currently spreading through South Africa and the U.K., owing to the adaptable mRNA technology used to develop the vaccine.

Bancel’s comments echo earlier statements from manufacturers at Pfizer and BioNTech, who point out the relative ease with which the vaccine’s core components can be edited to adapt to new variants. 

In addition to discussing the duration of the Moderna vaccine’s immunity, Bancel said the company is “very comfortable” with its track record at producing vaccines, adding that it is on track to deliver between 600 million and 1 billion doses by the end of the year. 

The company, which has never brought a product to market before, predicted  $11.7 billion in vaccine-related sales this year based on advance purchase agreements signed with governments.

Key Background

How long a particular vaccine can protect against disease is not well understood. Some vaccines can provide protection for months or years and others a lifetime. Data from the extensive clinical trials conducted on the Covid-19 vaccines does not tell us how long any immunity lasts. This will become clearer over time and is something manufacturers and regulators will monitor carefully. They will also monitor for changes to the virus, and it is common for manufacturers to return to the development stage if mutations occur. Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna are all using a new type of technology for vaccines based on messenger RNA (mRNA), though there are some differences. Unlike many other vaccines which rely on weakened or dead viruses that must be grown in vast quantities, this molecule can simply be tweaked as needed and put back into the vaccine. “mRNA is fantastic because you can just swap a new strain and run with it,” Moderna’s CEO, Stéphane Bancel, previously told Forbes.

Further Reading

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Appears To Work Against New Covid Variants, Study Finds, As U.S. Records Deadliest Day (Forbes)

Moderna says COVID-19 vaccine immunity to stay at least a year (Reuters)

Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna Test Vaccines Against New Covid-19 Variant Spreading Across U.K. (Forbes)

What You Need To Know About Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine (Forbes)

A New Variant Of Covid-19 Has Emerged In England – Here Is What It Could Mean For The Pandemic And Vaccines (Forbes)

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus

Immunity: Expert Reveals 5 Indian Winter Dishes To Boost Your Immunity Amidst Pandemic

Immunity: Expert Reveals 5 Indian Winter Dishes To Boost Your Immunity Amidst Pandemic

  • January 11, 2021

Winter is here in all its glory, and while most of us our thoroughly enjoying the nip in the air, there are people who are struggling with a slew of seasonal infections that often manifest in cold, cough and flu. It is tough to guage this weather, you think you are appropriately covered in multiple of layers woolen drinking chai, thinking you have defeated flu, but one can never be sure. Which is why it is always a good idea to make necessary tweaks to one’s diet a well. There are many Indian dishes that could help boost your immunity this season, here are some of them.

(Also Read)

1. Tomato Pepper Rasam  

Tomato rasam is a very popular South Indian dish, which is often consumed with steamed rice. You can also consume it as soup. The main ingredients involved to make this recipe are tomato, tamarind, black pepper, turmeric, cumin seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida, garlic and ginger. This recipe has variety of spices that help in digestion. Tomatoes are rich in Vitamin C and have a chemical compound-lycopene, garlic has allicin, ginger has gingerol, and turmeric has curcumin, which act as powerful antioxidants and also has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, which can relieve coughs and colds.

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(Also Read: 

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Tomato rasam is a popular South Idian dish

2. Sarson da Saag

“Sarson da saag” is a popular North Indian dish, from Punjab, it is traditionally served with ‘makki (Corn) ki roti’ and ‘makkhan’ (home-made butter). The main ingredients required to make this healthy dish are mustard greens, spinach, radish leaves, ginger, garlic and chilies. It is prepared with seasonally grown fresh green leafy vegetables which are rich in vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, vitamin A, C, K, folic acid etc., they are also a great source of antioxidants like carotenoids which helps in boosting immunity.

(Also Read: How To Make Punjabi Sarso Da Saag)

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Sarso ka saag is a Punjabi speciality

3. Bajra Khichdi

Bajra Khichdi is famous one-pot dish from Rajasthan. It is also popular in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, etc. You can have it stand-alone, or in combination with mung dal with a variety of local and seasonal vegetables to enhance the taste and nutrients. It is often served with curd or kadhi. Bajra which is the main ingredient of this dish, is rich in protein and other nutrients like iron, phosphorus, etc., it has good amount of insoluble fibre, which acts as prebiotic which helps in the growth of probiotics (good bacteria) which is often present in fermented foods like curd, yogurt, etc. the combination of both prebiotic and probiotic helps in boosting overall gut health.

(Also Read: )

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bajra khichdi is good for diabetes management too

4. Undhiyu

Undhiyu is a delicacy of Gujarat made of a mixture of vegetables grown in winter. This dish is a combination of all types of vegetables whether it is green leafy, or the ones grown underground.  The rich variety of vegetable used in the dish makes this dish rich in fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which does wonders for your immunity.

(Also Read: )

5. Saunth Makhana Laddu

These laddus are most often eaten in winter across the country. The main ingredients present in this laddu are foxnuts (makhana), dry ginger powder (Saunth), dry coconut, dry fruits and nuts, seeds, jaggery and ghee. All the ingredients when combined together, enhances its taste and a number of health benefits.  Foxnuts are rich in protein, fibre, calcium, magnesium etc. Ginger powder has powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties which helps in fighting the infection and boosting the immune system. This laddu can be consumed with turmeric milk at bed time or eaten at any other time of the day; it is suitable for all age groups.

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Ladoos are consumed in huge numbers in winter

About Author: Ms. Shilpa Singh is an Executive Nutritionist at Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Vashi

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How healthier eating trends emerge as pandemic persists

How healthier eating trends emerge as pandemic persists

  • January 8, 2021

Trends show people started taking their health and what they are eating more seriously during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in more reliance on food delivery apps, grocery pick-up options, and an increased interest in cooking or learning how to cook while at home.

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the way we eat – what we eat, how we’re eating it, where we dine, and where we get our food – and it might not be in the negative way that people may assume. According to Food Insight, just under 40 percent of people are eating at least somewhat healthier compared to pre-COVID.

Dr. Kasey Nichols, a naturopathic doctor at Onyx Integrative Medicine and Aesthetics, said this was from a combination of various factors, such as not being able to eat at certain restaurants that have shut down or worked from home, forcing many to cook more at home.

“We do know that more people are cooking at home and that they’re more conscious about the foods that they are eating,” Nichols said.

People are also seeking more responsibly-grown food, as well as immune-boosting foods, such as greens, citrus fruits, certain spices, and others. People are more concerned with using food as fuel to fight off sickness, which makes sense given the pandemic.

Trends pre-COVID showed that people were already becoming more conscious of their health and diets, and since the pandemic, it has become even more common.

“With a pandemic, with the CDC saying you need to eat a healthy diet, with more people having more time to look up what a healthy diet is… when they actually start focusing on eating more healthy foods you’re going to see bigger changes like we’re seeing,” Nichols said.

More people are participating in specific diets, such as intermittent fasting, high-fat and keto, and eating more plant-based alternatives in their meals. Nichols said he has seen this trend in his own practice.

Nichols’ unofficial hypothesis is that being home for more time is making people more conscious and aware of what they’re eating – and they aren’t happy with it anymore. “Then couple that with the media’s attention to eating a healthy diet to boost your immune system and that’s, I think, why we’re seeing some of the trends we’re seeing with eating more healthy,” he said.

All of this being said – many of us haven’t changed the way we eat or haven’t been able to. Where do we start?

Dr. Nichols said he sees health as surrounding four “pillars” – diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management. All four are important and play into one another, and finding a balance between all of them so that a deficit in one area won’t sabotage progress in another.

“All of these go hand in hand,” he said. “One will play into the other very easily. If you have increased stress, you’re going to eat more simple carbohydrates, you’re going to feed that system. If you missed sleep, you’re going to have increased stress which will increase the simple carbohydrates. If you eat a bad diet, it’s going to increase stress. They’re all interconnected.”

He said a good first step is to balance out your diet – such as having a piece of meat the size of your palm and filling the rest of the plate with non-starchy, leafy, or dense vegetables.

It is also important to get 30 minutes to an hour of exercise three to five days a week, but Nichols said that it’s okay to start small.

“Often as human beings, we go full bore into exercise programs… and then what happens is you become overwhelmingly sore, and it negatively reinforces you going back to the gym again,” Nichols said.

What he recommends instead is to “build up small wins.” Starting with a walk, jog, or simple exercises is a great place to start, and then you can increase the frequency and challenge of the workouts as you get into a routine.

Nichols said he has seen many people in his own clinical experience who struggle with depression and anxiety also have unhealthy diets. He has seen people start to feel much better once they start taking care of themselves by paying more attention to their diet and putting effort into exercise.

Nichols said the question is whether or not many of these changes in eating during the pandemic will be maintained in the long-run and potentially post-COVID. America was already in a health crisis before COVID concerning obesity and being overweight. According to the CDC, 39.8 percent of adults in America are obese, and 71.6 percent are overweight, including the obese.

“Any push that we can have toward more healthy diets, more plant-based diet or more of an emphasis on plants than the simple carbohydrates and processed foods – they’re going to have long term repercussions in the health of Americans and the health of Arizona and in general,” Nichols said.

Red Cross Calls for Blood Plasma for COVID Patients

Red Cross Calls for Blood Plasma for COVID Patients

  • January 6, 2021

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter


WEDNESDAY, Jan. 6, 2021 (HealthDay News) — The American Red Cross is urging COVID-19 survivors to donate blood plasma for hospital patients who need it to recover.

As an incentive to help boost the national convalescent plasma shortage, the Red Cross has teamed up with the National Football League and is offering donors a chance to win two tickets to next year’s Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles.

The Red Cross is especially asking those who have recovered from COVID-19 to give blood because more donors are needed to help hospital patients.

Those who donate between Jan. 1 and 20 will be automatically entered to win the “Big Game at Home” package for viewing at home, with a 65-inch television and a $500 gift card.

People can schedule an appointment to give blood by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or activating the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.

“While winter is historically a challenging time to collect blood due to the holidays and inclement weather, this year, COVID-19 has added a new challenge,” Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer of the American Red Cross, said in a news release.

“Last month, the Red Cross distributed the greatest number of convalescent plasma products than any other month during the pandemic. With hospital distributions for this product increasing about 250% since October, it is vital that those who have recovered from COVID-19 donate blood or plasma so that we can continue to treat those critically ill with the virus,” Young added.

COVID-19 survivors have a unique ability to make a difference in the lives of COVID-19 patients, according to the Red Cross. People who have recovered from COVID-19 may have antibodies in their plasma that could give a patient’s immune system the boost it needs to beat the virus.


More information

For more on donating blood, head to the American Red Cross.


SOURCE: American Red Cross, news release, Jan. 5, 2021



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