5 Essential Tips For Proper Nutrition During COVID-19 Pandemic

5 Essential Tips For Proper Nutrition During COVID-19 Pandemic

  • April 8, 2021

The current covid-19 pandemic has affected and changed lifestyles a lot. There is a big difference in prioritizing things now as it was before. There is a new normal lifestyle. With the COVID-19 pandemic, eating, living, working, and socializing patterns have completely changed. Even socio-economic stability has suffered a lot.

Food is an important aspect of life and a means of living. During the current situation, diet planning is an important question to most people about the suitable options to add to a routine diet and what foods should be given up. While planning a diet for yourself and your family, there are many things to keep in mind. Some aspects are elaborated for a more concise understanding.

Avoid Eating Outside

It is safe to eat at home and prepare meals by yourself. Going outside in public places increases the risk of getting in contact with the virus’s carriers and the virus itself. Restaurants and food places are among the most crowded places, and it is more likely for viruses to spread quickly in such places.

It is advisable to avoid visiting such public places and make sure to stay at home. Eat and drink with your family and prepare meals at home. Also, avoiding unhealthy food such as processed food is very important. Processed foods have less nutritional value and are made from synthetic ingredients.

Giving Up Alcohol

It is important to give up certain foods and beverages which are injurious to overall health and increases the risk of getting into serious disease and illnesses. Alcohol is one such beverage that negatively affects each organ of the body, especially during the current pandemic when there is no much physical exercise.

Alcohol abuse increases the risk factors and severity of disease and infection. It negatively influences immunity and the defense system of the body. It is important to look for ways to limit and abandon the use of alcohol. It might become troublesome for many people. People can get professional guidance to cope with addiction from numerous rehab centers.

Drink Enough Water Everyday

Drinking plenty of water is essential in keeping the body hydrated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Water is essential to many processes and functions in the body. It is recommended to take 8-10 glasses of water a day. It is especially important during the current pandemic as water is an essential way to keep air passages moist and secure with sufficient amounts of mucus, which protects the membrane and lining of air passages.

It makes it difficult for viruses and germs to get access to the body through air passages in the nose and throat. Also, it is very helpful in regulating body temperature. Maintaining good hydration is essential for overall health and wellbeing. It is as important as taking a healthy and nutritious diet.

Antioxidants To Strengthen Immune System

Foods rich in antioxidants help the body against free radicals and reduce inflammation. Different nutrients and antioxidants such as Vitamin E and B carotene help the body’s immune system in different ways and protect the body against infections and viruses. They also may help in building up your bodies natural immune system against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eat Nutritious And Well Balanced Diet

Nutrition and hydration are essential for a healthier body, and it boosts immunity. It also reduces the risk of getting serious and chronic diseases and infections. There are a number of healthy food options to add to a routine diet.

It is important to consider what food and food groups to add to diet on a routine basis as it has a lot to do with overall health, building immunity, and dealing with stress and anxiety of pandemic.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are rich sources of Vitamin C, and they play an important role in the body as an immunity booster. Incorporating Vitamin C-rich citrus fruits in a routine diet can have numerous benefits.

Common examples of citrus fruits are lemon, orange, mandarin, and grapefruit.

Research shows that Vitamin C helps with shrinking the duration and severity of a cold. So it is beneficial to incorporate a Vitamin C-rich diet and food sources.


If you are looking into what to add to a routine diet during the current pandemic, then these spices are a must for a healthy diet. Ginger, Garlic, and turmeric are extremely beneficial for health and can easily be incorporated into the diet.

These spices are part of many food recipes. These spices have antiviral and antiseptic properties, which are extremely useful in boosting immunity against cold viruses and other viruses.

Zinc Rich Food

Zinc is an important mineral found in food and is required by the body for many functions. Foods rich in Zinc, such as seafood including shellfish, oysters and mussels, seeds, nuts, red meat, and egg yolk, must also be added to a routine diet.

Zinc is found in many medicines used to treat cold thus has properties to fight viruses. A zinc-rich diet must be added to the diet as it boosts immunity against viruses and reduces inflammation.

Magnesium Rich Food

Magnesium is an important mineral found in many foods such as green vegetables, dark chocolate, Tofu, bananas, legumes, seeds, and nuts. Foods rich in magnesium are very helpful in reducing stress and anxiety.

With sufficient magnesium intake, a person may feel calmer, and it also supports immunity. Recent research supports the role of magnesium in reducing the severity of the COVID-19 virus.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3 reduces stress and anxiety. Also, it has countless health benefits; it is also effective against the common cold and flu. It also boosts immunity against viruses and should be incorporated into routine diets.

Take Away

COVID-19 pandemic has brought in an elevated concern about diet and healthy diet options. It is important to avoid eating outside and making sure to prepare and take meals at home. Incorporating foods rich in various nutrients can help to boost immunity. Many foods with anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antiseptic properties are available. These foods also reduce the risk factor of diseases and infections. A body with stronger immunity can cope with viruses better.


The Pandemic Doesn't Mean We Have to Choose between Physical and Mental Health

The Pandemic Doesn’t Mean We Have to Choose between Physical and Mental Health

  • April 7, 2021

If you’re thinking about the COVID pandemic as an assault against physical health alone, you’ve got it all wrong. The statistics on illness and death are staggering—but there’s been an equally staggering toll exacted on our mental health. Nearly one third of Americans are experiencing symptoms of clinical depression or anxiety, and the Well Being Trust estimates we will suffer up to 150,000 additional deaths tied to the social isolation and economic stressors associated with COVID-19.

In nonpandemic times, making choices that benefit both physical health and mental health was relatively straightforward, for these choices were often one and the same. Doing good for your body has tangible benefits for your mood and psychological well-being. For example, exercise significantly reduces anxiety and depression—at rates comparable to pharmacotherapy. Likewise, healthy sleep habits that foster physical homeostasis and more efficient immune system functioning also significantly reduce our risk for depression, anxiety and bipolar illness.

Yet the pandemic has uprooted our normal guideposts for navigating decisions about our health. Today, choosing to make healthy choices for minimizing risk of virus infection comes at a cost to our mental health, in both the short and the long term.

For example, when we self-quarantine, we protect our physical health, but we also increase our social isolation, which augments our loneliness, foments negative emotions and limits access to crucial social support systems that buffer against depression. Parents who have protected their children from contracting or spreading COVID-19 by limiting playdates or homeschooling rightly worry about the unknown toll on their children’s socioemotional development of such absence of social interaction with peers. Young adults have missed monumental milestones including high school and college graduations—opportunities for collective processing and meaning making that have positive psychological and physical health benefits. Now these experiences represent a costly trade-off, leaving us wondering which side of our health we choose to protect.

This ever-present balancing act leaves us feeling that our physical and mental health are at odds, in a battle vying for attention: should you prioritize you and your family’s physical health, or your weakening mental health during this stressful and uncertain time? Yet, this calculus is even more complicated. Of course, we are not only concerned with our own physical or mental health, but with the well-being of the global human world as we balance our individual needs with that of our collective community. 

Ultimately, even with three vaccines now approved for emergency use, we are still in this pandemic for the long haul. If we ignore our mental health needs, any issues we have may worsen, making it harder to recover when we finally try to address them and when the pandemic has etched into history. We offer a few evidence-based suggestions for how to approach this mental and physical decision duality:

  • We must adopt a community-centered solution to this problem, which recognizes and accepts that your approach to defining a cost-benefit ratio may differ from the approach of your neighbors and others with different personality or developmentally appropriate needs. For example, teenagers and young adults may need more contact with people outside their family to maintain their mental health. This is developmentally appropriate, so rather than criticize them for their behavior, we should think about creating guidelines for what healthy social distancing looks like across different developmental periods. Having one or two friends a teenager can consistently socialize with in person may be a sensible approach that balances physical and mental health concerns and may prevent risky social behavior.
  • It’s important to balance present versus future needs. Consider choices that will not only support you during the present moment but benefit your future self well after the pandemic is over. Although it can feel downright thrilling during COVID-19 times to get out of the house and finally meet up with friends at a park or shop online to buy that flashy new iPhone after being cooped up inside all day, doing so may lose a broader perspective of how it may affect your future self. Likewise, although it is natural for us to avoid upsetting feelings, when we do it frequently, excessively or in a way that prevents us from achieving our daily goals, it is referred to as behavioral avoidance. Behaviors such as not approaching friends when feeling depressed come at the expense of longer-term quality of life. Becoming saturated by fear in the moment or recurring melancholic thoughts might lead us to avoid needed medical attention, reach out connect with someone over the phone who could lift up our spirits, or make a trip to the grocery store to get needed food supplies when online Instacart delivery isn’t an option.
  • Remember that protecting your physical health doesn’t need to come at expense to mental health: There are many ways to support physical immunity and avoid risk of COVID-19 but still support your emotional needs. For example, you can stay socially connected to others even when geographically apart—whether it is through remote-based “meet ups” with old friends online, starting a gratitude journal or sending notes to those you care apart, and engaging in small acts of kindness to loved ones and strangers. All of these not only help you stay connected but also have been proven to buffer against potentially negative mental health outcomes and boost physical immunity to stressors.

During this global pandemic, we must embrace both the mind and body as central facets of our human health and survival. To survive the enduring pandemic ahead, we must recognize mental and physical health as mutually influential parts of human health that work best when they work together.

Experts urge Filipinos to embrace plant-based diet to boost health amid pandemic

Experts urge Filipinos to embrace plant-based diet to boost health amid pandemic

  • April 3, 2021
Customers purchase goods at the Kalentong Market in Mandaluyong City on February 9, 2021. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA— In a society where meat consumption is heavy, are consumers ready to go plant-based? 

Experts have urged Filipinos to embrace a plant-based diet as meat products have become expensive, stressing several health benefits one could get by going meat-free to boost the body’s defenses amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Heavily plant-based diets can lower a person’s chances of suffering from non-communicable diseases, according to Philippine Society of Nutritionist-Dietitians public relations officer Jake Andal.

Andal, who advocates for the dietary shift, told ABS-CBN News that cancer, heart, and renal diseases could be prevented by eradicating or limiting a person’s meat consumption. 

“All of them can be managed by diet. All of them can be prevented by good nutrition. Studies have long been elucidating na there is a huge relationship between plant-based diets and non-communicable disease prevention,” Andal said in an interview. 

Plant-based diets could help increase antioxidants and fiber intake, which protects the heart and kidneys. This could also help in keeping a person mentally healthy, he said. 


Too much protein, he pointed out, could “take a toll” on our kidneys. 

“We also see relationships with cancer prevention because of antioxidants, and fiber as well. We also see the management or prevention of mental diseases or mental health disorders because we see that there is a link between diet and mental health,” he said. 

“One of the facets of good nutrition – which is a common denominator in these researches, is the plant-heavy diet,” he added. 

Jewel Maribie Luis, a former project officer at the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), echoed Andal, and said shifting to plant-based meals could also boost a person’s immune system. 

Luis explained that a plant-rich diet is a good source of fiber. This, she said, helps the gut’s integrity, aids digestion, and nutrient absorption. 

“Plant-based food items are good sources of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants that is deficient in meat products like beef and pork,” said Luis. 

“These nutrients are vital to maintain the function of our immune system, circulatory system and other organ system to fight diseases,” she added. 

She also emphasized that going plant-based is different from being vegan, each of which has a different discipline.

“When we say vegan diets, it means eliminating all animal products, including non-food items that are created by animal source, while plant-based diets do not necessarily eliminate animal products, but focus on eating mostly plants, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes,” she noted.

Andal, meanwhile, said it is high time to start going plant-based to strengthen one’s immune system, coupled by standard health protocols against COVID-19. 

“I think the missing piece in disease prevention… is also eating healthy or eating properly. And one of the facets again of eating healthy is consuming a plant-heavy diet,” he said. 

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in early March called on the government to invest in “plant-based meat” amid high prices of pork, chicken and other meats. 

PETA said a plant-based diet will give people more options, citing health and convenience benefits. 


The Philippine Society of Nutritionist-Dietitians recommended increasing portions of fruits and vegetables in meals, as also recommended by the FNRI. 

This is also cheaper, the group said, compared to meals with meats. 

If a person, meanwhile, is looking to increase his protein intake, there are vegetables rich in protein such as garbanzos, nuts, monggo, and red kidney beans, among others. 

“It is a misconception that for example, beans, nuts, and seeds and other proteins from vegetables are inferior to your animal proteins… these plant-based proteins contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber that animal proteins do not [have]” said Andal. 


Luis, on the other hand, emphasized that food preparation also plays a role on nutrients in a dish. She said it would show how a dish could be considered healthy or unhealthy. 

She also pointed out that the public should refrain from frying and overcooking vegetables in order to retain their nutrition. 

“Kapag nagluto tayo ng pinakbet ‘di ba marami siyang laman na gulay, and we all know that gulay is healthy, but kapag inalam natin kung paano siya niluto, minsan nasosobrahan ng asin o bagoong which is high in sodium, minsan naman [overcooked] ‘yung gulay which means that karamihan sa nutrients nung gulay sa pinakbet ay nasira o nawala na,” she explained. 

(When we cook pinakbet, it has a lot of vegetables. We think this is healthy, but it depends on how we cook it. Sometimes we put salt or bagoong in the dish too much, which is high in sodium. Sometimes, we also overcook the vegetables, that’s why a lot of the nutrients we are supposed to get from pinakbet have already been destroyed.)

The following are her recommendations for the correct way of cooking and eating fruits and vegetables: 

  • In cooking vegetable dishes, rinse ingredients well and do not overcook to retain nutrients. 
  • To make a healthier meatless dish, avoid frying as it destroys essential nutrients not only in vegetables but also in meat products. 
  • Steamed, boiled, broiled and grilled are recommended
  • Avoid using too much oil, sugar, and salt in cooking.
  • Consume fruits that are fresh, especially citrus ones

Both Andal and Luis also agreed that fish is a good meat alternative because of its protein content. Tilapia, bangus, salmon, tuna, and sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are important in lowering one’s blood pressure. 


Here are some of the meat-free recipes promoted by the FNRI’s menu guide calendars in recent years: 

1. Gisadong munggo at talinum

Photos courtesy of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

2. Veggie fish sinigang

Photos courtesy of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

3. Nutty rice medley

Photos courtesy of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

4. Forever Yang Chow

Photos courtesy of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

5. Fiesta taco mix

Photos courtesy of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

6. Cheesy potato

Photos courtesy of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

7. Pinoy sinangag with kadyos

Photos courtesy of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

8. Pesang bangus

Photos courtesy of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

9. Ginataang monggo with kalabasa and dilis

Photos courtesy of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

10. Sardines-kalabasa patties

Photos courtesy of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

meatless dish, vegetables, plant-based dish, plant-rich food, plant-based food, health, diet, Philippine Society of Nutritionist-Dietitians, Jake Andal, Jewel Maribie Luis, plant-based diet, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, FNRI, Life, Lifestyle

Boost your immunity with these food items amid pandemic

Boost your immunity with these food items amid pandemic

  • April 1, 2021

New Delhi: It is our immunity that protects us from viruses and foreign invaders of our body that try to infect us. Especially in the times of Covid-19, it has become very important for us to boost our immunity from within to fight the deadly virus. Here are some food items that you can stack in your shelves to improve your immunity:


This fruit is rich in vitamin A, B, C, and K. It is an excellent immunity booster and keeps your heart healthy. Raw papaya pulp contains 88 per cent water and 11 per cent carbohydrates. Papaya fruits provide 43  kilocalories. Papaya leaves can also be used for the treatment of Malaria, Abortifacient and Purgative.


Almonds are rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fiber, so there are a number of health benefits of consuming these nuts. Almonds are a good source of calcium and antioxidants as well. Consuming almonds daily will surely improve your health as they are also high in Vitamin E, which helps to support the pulmonary immune system.


Ginger helps in decreasing inflammation and in dealing with stomach issues amongst other things. Ginger can also be used for medicinal purposes because of its rich nutritional properties. It also has  anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help in fighting infections. It contains vitamin B6 and minerals like magnesium and manganese. Raw ginger has around 79 per cent water, 18 per cent carbohydrates, 2 per cent protein and and 1 per cent fat.

Green Tea:

Green tea is filled with nutrients and antioxidants properties. It also keeps your blood sugar level in control and also improves your metabolism rate. Green tea contains amino acid, vitamin C, vitamin B2 and vitamin E. It also contains minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, manganese etc.


Broccoli is a stock house of vitamins and minerals. This vegetable is also rich in fiber and antioxidants. Broccoli contains many nutrients, including fiber, iron, potassium, and vitamin K.


You can never go wrong with Haldi. These roots are extremely beneficial in boosting immunity. Turmeric contained 3-5 per cent of curcumin, a photo-derivative, which contains healing  properties. It also has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.


Packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene which increase the infection-fighting ability of the immune system. It contains a high amount of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E which help to prevent infection and fill up blood cells to give a boost to the immune system.

Citrus fruits:

Consuming citrus fruits containing vitamin C is immensely good for our health and our immune system. It produces white blood cells, which are necessary to fight infection. Some popular varieties of citrus fruits are sweet oranges, lemons, grapefruit, lime etc.

Iron-binder DFX improves the effect of new TB antimicrobial, research shows

Iron-binder DFX improves the effect of new TB antimicrobial, research shows

  • March 23, 2021

Although Tuberculosis, or TB, killed nearly as many people as COVID-19 (approx. 1.8 million) in 2020, it did not receive as much media and public attention. The pandemic has proven that transmissible infection is indeed a global issue. TB remains a serious public health concern in Ireland, particularly with the presence of multi-drug resistant types and the numbers of complex cases here continuing to rise, with cases numbering over 300 annually.

Science tells us that iron is crucial for daily human function, but it is also an essential element for the survival of viruses and bacteria. For some time, scientists have known that depriving infections of iron can limit bacterial burden and help improve patient outcomes. Now scientists at Trinity College and St James’s Hospital have recently applied such a trick (of binding iron to support the immune system) to the treatment of TB, along with a new TB antimicrobial called Bedaquiline. The findings have been published (Thursday, 18th March 2021) in the prestigious journal, the International Journal of Molecular Sciences: https://bit.ly/3bXNBcd .The research is led by Professor Joseph Keane and Dr James Phelan.

Bedaquiline has been in use for less than 10 years for multi-drug resistant TB, yet last year Ireland saw its first case of TB that was Bedaquiline-resistant. We know that even as new antituberculosis drugs are introduced, the TB bacteria will become increasingly resistant.

For some time, Dr Phelan has been looking at how to support the immune system to improve treatment effectiveness. He has previously demonstrated how an iron-binding drug, called Desferrioxamine, or DFX, supports lung immunity against TB infection by driving the activation of a key metabolic pathway called ‘glycolysis’. The process of glycolysis helps immune cells make energy to fight infection which in turn drives several signals that improve the patient macrophages’ (white blood cells) ability to address TB infection. Recent data has shown that a large fraction of people suffering from TB lack this glycolytic response. DFX could compensate for this metabolic defect.

As an extension of this work, the research team has now demonstrated that immune macrophage cells infected with TB bacteria, and treated with the drug Bedaquiline, do a better job of killing the bacteria, if they are also treated with this iron-binder DFX. In addition, this approach also drives a panel of cytokines, or immune messengers, that could also help the macrophages to eliminate the pathogen.

The use of these antimicrobials has been the mainstay for TB treatment for almost half a century now; now is the time to make these antimicrobials function better for the patient. DFX, and other iron binders, could be one of the answers to this. The use of iron binders could help pave the way for the development of new host-directed-therapies; instead of targeting the pathogen, host-directed-therapies directly target infected cells and help them kill the pathogen. Therefore, the use host-directed-therapies as a treatment strategy could drastically improve the treatment and clinical care for patients suffering with tuberculosis and other devastating infectious diseases”.

Dr James Phelan, Department of Clinical Medicine, Trinity College and Study Senior Author


Journal reference:

Cahill, C., et al. (2021) The Iron Chelator Desferrioxamine Increases the Efficacy of Bedaquiline in Primary Human Macrophages Infected with BCG. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. doi.org/10.3390/ijms22062938.

News beyond the pandemic — March 19

News beyond the pandemic — March 19

  • March 19, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic dominated the headlines and our daily lives for the past year. Medical News Today have covered this fast-moving, complex story with live updates on the latest news, interviews with experts, and an ongoing investigation into the deep racial disparities that COVID-19 has helped unmask.

However, this has not stopped us from publishing hundreds of fascinating stories on a myriad of other topics.

Our latest evidence-backed resource hub launched yesterday, this time focusing on exercise and fitness. It covers every aspect of getting and staying in shape. We think you’ll enjoy it.

Next up is a Special Feature on the emerging links between anxiety and inflammation. The evidence is mounting, but it’s far from a simple picture, as Tim Newman explains.

We also explore whether it’s possible to make your hair grow faster, what to eat to strengthen the immune system — and what to avoid, as well as what appears to be a “halo effect” associated with following the Mediterranean diet.

Finally, to mark Endometriosis Awareness Month, we assess the latest research and highlight why more funding is needed to help millions of women with the condition.

We highlight this research below, along with other recent stories that you may have missed amid all the COVID-19 fervor.

1. Exercise & fitness: In-depth resources for health and well-being

This week saw the launch of MNT‘s exercise and fitness hub. It features 80 articles covering every aspect of getting and staying fit, whatever a person’s age or ability.

First, our editors look at what being fit means, how to start exercising, and the health benefits of regular physical activity. Next, we delve into the science of fitness, including the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise, why muscles are important, and different body types.

With sections on exercise types, weight management, home workouts, and more, this is a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their fitness. It’s also a living resource, which our editors will regularly update with the latest exercise and fitness news, product reviews, and recommendations.

Learn more here.

2. Anxiety and inflammation: What is the link?

What is the relationship between inflammation and anxiety? In this new article, Senior Editor Tim Newman takes a closer look at the evidence, including the latest research on specific inflammatory markers and the role of the microbiome.

The evidence supporting a strong link between inflammation and anxiety is steadily mounting, but it remains a very complex topic. For example, one study found evidence that taking aspirin, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, decreased the risk of anxiety, while another investigation did not.

This article also includes a video covering the highlights that is well worth watching. To access the feature and watch the video, please click below.

Learn more here.

3. Can you make your hair grow faster?

It is difficult to predict which article will emerge as the most popular among those published each week, and this week is no exception. Our investigation of what people can do to encourage rapid hair growth has attracted over 125,000 sessions in only 2 days.

And as the article notes, while speeding up hair growth might not be possible, many factors do affect its growth rate. The article goes into detail about how hair grows and how the overall condition of the body affects hair health.

A healthy diet, caffeine, scalp massage, essential oils, and quitting smoking may all play a role. However, miracle cures and supplements probably do not.

Learn more here.

4. What to eat and avoid to maintain a strong immune system

Our article on what to eat to support the immune system also proved very popular this week, attracting nearly 110,000 sessions in its first 2 days.

There is good evidence that citrus fruits, foods containing zinc, cruciferous vegetables, garlic, and ginger all help strengthen the immune system. However, there are also foods that weaken it, which our editors explore here too.

To check that what you’re eating gives your body a fighting chance to defeat illness, click below.

Learn more here.

5. What are the 13 factors that shape brain health?

This week, we reported on new brain health guidelines from experts at the American Heart Association (AHA). They have identified 13 modifiable factors that may affect cognitive ability over a person’s lifetime. The key term here is “modifiable,” as these are all factors that individuals can control and adapt to improve their own health.

This work adds to the AHA’s Life’s Simple 7 guidelines, announced in 2017, that identified seven factors to look out for regarding cardiovascular health: blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, level of exercise, diet, body weight, and smoking status.

Click below to see the additional six factors the AHA identify that influence brain health and cognitive ability.

Learn more here.

6. Quitting smoking may improve mental well-being

As we saw above, smoking is a modifiable factor that influences cardiovascular and brain health. Now, a new review supports this, finding that people who quit smoking had a greater reduction in anxiety, depression, and stress symptoms than those who did not.

These benefits emerge within a matter of weeks, which could help motivate more of the 40 million smokers in the U.S. to quit. It’s thought that many may have concerns about the negative mental health effects associated with stopping smoking.

The review, which includes data from more than 169,500 participants, concluded that quitting smoking did not worsen depression, anxiety, or symptoms of stress.

Learn more here.

7. People with dementia may be prescribed interacting drugs

According to a recent study reported in MNT this week, doctors may be prescribing too many medications to people with dementia.

The research found that nearly 14% of those with dementia take three or more drugs that interact with the brain or central nervous system for more than 1 month. This may result in drug interactions in people aged 65 years or older that accelerate cognitive decline and increase the risk of injury and death.

However, there is a lack of information on drug interactions and dementia available to doctors. This makes decisions about which drugs to prescribe in each case, and for how long, difficult.

Learn more here.

8. Benefits of Mediterranean diet may extend to family members

People living with someone who follows a Mediterranean diet weight loss program may also find themselves losing weight. That was one encouraging finding of new research covered by MNT this week.

This halo effect increases over time, with relatives of participants losing nearly 3 pounds (lb) more during the first year of the program and another 9 lb in the second year compared with the control group.

“The effect was contagious,” says the study’s principal investigator. The researchers believed this improvement was due to the Mediterranean diet, as they did not see an increase in physical activity among the other family members.

Learn more here.

9. The latest in endometriosis research: Ways forward

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, and in this Special Feature, our editors outline the latest research on the condition. Up to 6.5 million women in the U.S. may have endometriosis, but it often goes undiagnosed. As many as 40% of women with infertility have the condition.

In this article, our editors focus on studies looking for possible causes and potential treatments, including dichloroacetate, cannabis and cannabinoids, and peptide medications.

However, endometriosis research continues to be underfunded, despite its impact on millions of people. This is why Endometriosis Awareness Month remains important, and why MNT support this campaign with this in-depth Special Feature.

Learn more here.

10. Maintaining health while working from home: 8 tips

In our final pick this week, we examine the challenges of working from home. How might a homeworker adapt to maintain good physical, social, and psychological health?

Eating healthily, drinking plenty of water, and regular exercise are vital, of course. In addition, learning how to balance work and home life, even when your workplace is your home, should not be neglected, nor should personal connections.

We don’t know how long working from home will continue, but this article will help anyone in this position remain healthy and well. Indeed, some people may come out of lockdown strengthened by the experience.

Learn more here.

We hope that this week’s Recovery Room offers a taste of the stories that we cover at MNT. We’ll be back with a new selection next week.

Coming soon: A sneak preview of what’s in our drafts folder

We publish hundreds of new stories and features every month. Here are some upcoming articles that may pique our readers’ interest:

  • Medical Myths: All about tuberculosis
  • 4 women whose work won the Nobel prize for their male supervisors
  • Revenge bedtime procrastination: A plight of our times

Pandemic induced research frenzy increases backing for some legacy ingredients

Pandemic induced research frenzy increases backing for some legacy ingredients

  • March 18, 2021

While no new ‘silver bullet’ for immune health has come on the scene since the start of the pandemic, many trusted ingredients have seen increased interest and sales. In some cases this interest has been aroused by data coming out of the treatment of COVID-19 suffers, while in other cases it is based on research dating back some years.

The big winners in the immune support game have been elderberry products, which are addressed in a separate article.  But other longstanding ingredients have seen sharply rising sales and interest in their scientific backing, which in some cases has extended even to calls for official recognition of health effects.

Vitamin D

One outstanding example is the story of vitamin D.  This prohormone substance has long been studied for its many health benefits that extend far beyond the old ‘strong bones and teeth’ story. After a method to measure 25(OH)D levels in the blood became available, researchers started to find wide ranging health effects for the vitamin.

For example, a study published in the journal Nutrition​ in 2017 found an association with low vitamin D levels and lower levels of HDL-cholesterol and a higher ration of total cholesterol to HDL​, both markers of higher cardiovascular disease risk. A large scale population study published in the next year presaged the current fevered interest in the vitamin when it found insufficiency linked to respiratory health problems​. 

But it was the start of the pandemic in the West in 2020 that saw research interest in the vitamin truly soar.  As researchers around the world started to sort through the mountains of data coming out of the pandemic, some stunning associations started to become clear.

man holding coronavirus vaccine

Some With Long-Haul COVID See Relief After Vaccination

  • March 17, 2021

March 17, 2021 — Aaron Goyang thinks his long bout with COVID-19 has finally come to an end, several weeks after getting his second dose of a vaccine.

Goyang, who is 33 and is a radiology technician in Austin, Texas, thinks he got COVID-19 from some of the coughing, gasping patients he treated last spring.

At the time, testing was scarce, and by the time he was tested — several weeks into his illness — it came back negative. He fought off the initial symptoms but experienced relapse a week later.

Goyang says that for the next 8 or 9 months, he was on a roller coaster with extreme shortness of breath and chest tightness that could be so severe it would send him to the emergency room. He had to use an inhaler to get through his workdays.

“Even if I was just sitting around, it would come and take me,” he says. “It almost felt like someone was bear-hugging me constantly, and I just couldn’t get in a good enough breath.”

On his best days, he would walk around his neighborhood, being careful not to overdo it. He tried running once, and it nearly sent him to the hospital.

“Very honestly, I didn’t know if I would ever be able to do it again,” he says.

But Goyang says that several weeks after getting the Pfizer vaccine, he was able to run a mile again with no problems. “I was very thankful for that,” he says.

Goyang is hardly alone. Some social media groups are dedicated to patients who are living with a condition that’s been known as long-haul COVID-19 and that was recently named termed post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC).

On social media, patients with long-haul COVID-19 are eagerly and anxiously quizzing each other about the vaccines and their effects. Some report that they’ve finally seen their symptoms resolve, giving hope that long-haul COVID-19 might not be a lifelong condition.

Survivor Corps, which has a public Facebook group with 159,000 members, recently took a poll to see whether there was any substance to rumors that these patients were feeling better after being vaccinated.

“Out of 400 people, 36% showed an improvement in symptoms, anywhere between a mild improvement to complete resolution of symptoms,” said Diana Berrent, a long-haul COVID-19 patient who founded the group. Survivor Corps has become active in patient advocacy and is a resource for researchers studying the new condition.

Some With Long COVID See Relief After Vaccination

Some With Long COVID See Relief After Vaccination

  • March 17, 2021

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

Several weeks after getting his second dose of an mRNA vaccine, Aaron Goyang thinks his long bout with COVID-19 has finally come to an end.

Aaron Goyang

Goyang, who is 33 and is a radiology technician in Austin, Texas, thinks he got COVID-19 from some of the coughing, gasping patients he treated last spring.

At the time, testing was scarce, and by the time he was tested — several weeks into his illness — it came back negative. He fought off the initial symptoms but experienced relapse a week later.

Goyang says that for the next 8 or 9 months, he was on a roller coaster with extreme shortness of breath and chest tightness that could be so severe it would send him to the emergency department. He had to use an inhaler to get through his workdays.

“Even if I was just sitting around, it would come and take me,” he says. “It almost felt like someone was bear-hugging me constantly, and I just couldn’t get in a good enough breath.”

On his best days, he would walk around his neighborhood, being careful not to overdo it. He tried running once, and it nearly sent him to the hospital.

“Very honestly, I didn’t know if I would ever be able to do it again,” he says.

But Goyang says that several weeks after getting the Pfizer vaccine, he was able to run a mile again with no problems. “I was very thankful for that,” he says.

Goyang is not alone. Some social media groups are dedicated to patients who are living with a condition that’s been known as long COVID and that was recently termed post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC). These patients are sometimes referred to as long haulers.

On social media, patients with PASC are eagerly and anxiously quizzing each other about the vaccines and their effects. Some report that they’ve finally seen their symptoms resolve, giving hope that long COVID might not be a lifelong condition.

Survivor Corps, which has a public Facebook group with 159,000 members, recently took a poll to see whether there was any substance to rumors that those with long COVID were feeling better after being vaccinated.

“Out of 400 people, 36% showed an improvement in symptoms, anywhere between a mild improvement to complete resolution of symptoms,” said Diana Berrent, a long-COVID patient who founded the group. Survivor Corps has become active in patient advocacy and is a resource for researchers studying the new condition.

The implications are huge.
Diana Berrent

Berrent has become such a trusted voice during the pandemic. She interviewed Anthony Fauci, MD, head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, last October.

“The implications are huge,” she says.

“Some of this damage is permanent damage. It’s not going to cure the scarring of your heart tissue, it’s not going to cure the irreparable damage to your lungs, but if it’s making people feel better, then that’s an indication there’s viral persistence going on,” says Berrent.

“I’ve been saying for months and months, we shouldn’t be calling this post-acute anything,” she adds.

Patients Report Improvement

Daniel Griffin, MD, PhD, is equally excited. He’s an infectious disease specialist at Columbia University, New York City. He says about 1 in 5 patients he treated for COVID-19 last year never got better. Many of them, such as Goyang, were healthcare workers.

“I don’t know if people actually catch this, but a lot of our co-workers are either permanently disabled or died,” Griffin says.

Healthcare workers were also among the first to be vaccinated. Griffin says many of his patients began reaching out to him about a week or two after being vaccinated “and saying, ‘You know, I actually feel better.’ And some of them were saying, ‘I feel all better,’ after being sick — a lot of them — for a year.”

Then he was getting calls and texts from other doctors, asking, “Hey, are you seeing this?”

The benefits of vaccination for some long-haulers came as a surprise. Griffin says that before the vaccines came out, many of his patients were worried that getting vaccinated might overstimulate their immune systems and cause symptoms to get worse.

Indeed, a small percentage of people ― about 3% to 5%, based on informal polls on social media ― report that they do experience worsening of symptoms after getting the shot. It’s not clear why.

Griffin estimates that between 30% and 50% of patients’ symptoms improve after they receive the mRNA vaccines. “I’m seeing this chunk of people, they tell me their brain fog has improved, their fatigue is gone, the fevers that wouldn’t resolve have now gone,” he says. “I’m seeing that personally, and I’m hearing it from my colleagues.”

Griffin says the observation has launched several studies and that there are several theories about how the vaccines might be affecting long COVID.

An Immune System Boost?

One possibility is that the virus continues to stimulate the immune system, which continues to fight the virus for months. If that is the case, Griffin says, the vaccine may be giving the immune system the boost it needs to finally clear the virus away.

Donna Farber, PhD, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University, has heard the stories, too.

“It is possible that the persisting virus in long COVID-19 may be at a low level — not enough to stimulate a potent immune response to clear the virus, but enough to cause symptoms. Activating the immune response therefore is therapeutic in directing viral clearance,” she says.

Farber explains that long COVID may be a bit like Lyme disease. Some patients with Lyme disease must take antibiotics for months before their symptoms disappear.

Griffin says there’s another possibility. Several studies have now shown that people with lingering COVID-19 symptoms develop autoantibodies. There’s a theory that SARS-CoV-2 may create an autoimmune condition that leads to long-term symptoms.

If that is the case, Griffin says, the vaccine may be helping the body to reset its tolerance to itself, “so maybe now you’re getting a healthy immune response.”

More studies are needed to know for sure.

Either way, the vaccines are a much-needed bit of hope for the long-COVID community, and Griffin tells his patients who are still worried that at the very least, they’ll be protected from another SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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Consumers shift to immunity boosting foods as the pandemic rages unabated

Consumers shift to immunity boosting foods as the pandemic rages unabated

  • March 17, 2021

Over the last few months, consumers across the world have changed in massive proportions and are continually developing newer habits. Amongst them all, the most pronounced has been the massive shift in consumer perspective towards health and wellness. The last few months have seen consumers taking a more proactive approach to healthier eating and exercising more – for maintaining health and immune resiliency. They are now, more than ever, inclined towards wholesome and healthy food products that promise vitamins, minerals and other healthy immunity boosting ingredients.

While the proclivity for healthy products, especially immunity-boosting food and drink is not new, the pandemic has accelerated the trend manifold.

“We can see it in conversations we’re having with our customers and colleagues, and the kind of invitations we’re getting from suppliers to webinars and events, and it’s backed by our own research. We knew that interest was already high in functional products – with consumers searching for terms such as ‘digestive health’ and ‘brain health’ – but recently we have seen a significant shift towards searches on products and ingredients that can boost people’s immune systems. There’s no doubt this has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” states Giancarlos La Rocca, Global Category Manager, Tetra Pak.

According to a research by London-based market research firm , the COVID-19 outbreak has prompted 45 percent of consumers in Europe to add more nutrients into their diet, while 29 percent reported being more interested in foods that can support your immune system since the start of the pandemic.

Google Trends data also shows an approximate 500 percent increase in searches for immunity in food and drink worldwide by week, following the onset of COVID-19.

La Rocca further adds that immunity boosting food products fall into two basic categories – the first focuses on nutrition and ingredients and the second category encompasses products that can boost overall wellbeing.

“The first is focused on nutrition and ingredients. Here, we are talking about nutrients such as vitamins and probiotics that can have a direct positive impact on the immune system. The second category is more holistic – products that can boost overall wellbeing, for example by helping you to sleep, or supporting you while you exercise,” he says.

The Indian Immunity Boosting Product Market

According to a paper by titled India Immunity Boosting Packaged Products Market, by Product Category (Supplements, Beverages, Food and Others), by Distribution Channel (Convenience Stores, Specialty Stores, Others), by Region, Competition, Forecast & Opportunities, FY2026, the future holds immense opportunities for the segment in India.

The research outlines that the Indian Immunity Boosting Packaged Products Market is projected to reach $ 347 million by FY 2026 owing to increasing consciousness and focus among Indian consumers towards preventive health. Further, rising per capita income and expanding middle-class and urban population are some of the key factors fueling the growth of immunity boosting packaged products market. An increasingly busy lifestyle is resulting in lack of nutrition and fitness among people, which is creating a huge demand for immunity boosting packaged products across the country.’

The research further states that the Indian immunity boosting products market can be categorized based on product category, distribution channel and region wise. In the product segment, the bestselling immunity boosters include Instant Food, Seeds, Beverages, Juice, Tea-Coffee and Probiotic Shots, followed by Syrups, Supplements, Mixes, Capsules, Powders, etc.

The entire market in India has traditionally been dominated by the supplements segment, till FY 2020 owing to easy product availability of trusted manufactures and proven health claims. Post the pandemic, the food segment has come to the fore and is expected to register a healthy CAGR till 2026 propelled by focus on preventive healthcare in the country and broad range of products offered by the manufactures.

Based on distribution channels, the immunity boosting market in India can be further categorized into convenience stores, specialty stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets, medical stores and online. Convenient stores are the forerunner of the segment with most sales coming from this segment. While this trend is expected to continue, online channels are rapidly gaining momentum, especially during the pandemic.

Opportunity for Retailers

This growing trend has further bolstered the already growing market for natural ingredients and immune boosting wellness products. An increasing number of brands and retailers, both new and established, are making a beeline to capitalize on the rising health awareness triggered by the pandemic.

“Wellness is a $4 million market in India and has been an ongoing trend for the last four to five years. However, because of the pandemic people are looking for more natural ingredients and immune boosting wellness products,” explains Sushant Dash, President – Packaged Beverages (India, Bangladesh and Middle East) at Tata Consumer Products Limited (TCPL). TCPL has recently launched a range of new teas with immunity boosting ingredients like tulsi, ginger, cardamom and brahmi.

Kwality Foods, another prominent name from the FMCG segment has launched a range of Muesli with Turmeric, Ginger and Honey. Benefits of the ingredients include turmeric which contains curcumin, a flavonoid that supports a healthy immune response, thereby promoting general well-being. Ginger has been used for thousands of years for the treatment of numerous ailments, such as colds, nausea, arthritis, migraines, and hypertension. Honey is also a good source of antioxidant, with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.

Orika, a brand by Paras Spices Pvt. Ltd., launched its range of immunity boosting Turmeric Immunity Mix that has 100 times more bio availability of curcumin as compared to regular turmeric drinks.

What the Future Holds

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a new consumer trends in health and wellness. Over the last few months, immunity has become one of the most important part of human lives. As such, consumer interest in immunity-enhancing food and drinks has skyrocketed ushering in untold opportunities for brands and retailers.

According to Mintel, the number of patents for immunity-improving food and drinks continues to increase by the day. Recent patent filings also focus on specialised nutrition or supplements to improve immune function among the elderly and individuals suffering from chronic diseases.

Also, although the immunity boosting food market segment is hitherto dominated by big brands, Mintel states that ‘recent scientific developments in the field of botanicals to improve immune health have created an opportunity for major brands as well as start-ups to launch products containing these ingredients’.