By CHESHIRE QUE
To date, over 20,000 reported cases of novel coronavirus infection have caused panic around the world. Necessary steps for management and prevention have been implemented globally. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following preventive actions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Perhaps you’ve done all these preventive steps and still have that nagging question on how a mere individual can further protect himself or herself?
“There is still no cure for coronaviruses. Nutritional Immunology offers hope in today’s global panic on coronaviruses. It is a science that teaches us about prevention. Every year there are around 650,000 deaths from the flu. Why do some recover from a simple illness while others do not? The answer simply lies in our immune system—the best doctor in the world that is within our body,” said registered nutritionist dietitian and plant-based nutrition advocate, Consuelo Domingo, RND. “Nothing comes close to a healthy immune system in preventing or overcoming infectious and chronic diseases. No amount of conventional medicine can replace the function of your immune system.”
Think of your immune system as a country’s military defense system against invaders. It is composed of a complex network of military units from the skin as the first line of defense to the lymphatic system, which is the second line of defense, the Peyer’s patches in the intestines, the bone marrow, which produces red and white blood cells that act as soldiers, the thymus that secretes immune-regulating hormones, the lymph nodes, which is the actual battleground with invaders (viruses, bacteria), the spleen that filters blood to remove dead invaders (dead blood cells and engulfed viruses or bacteria) and produces antibodies for future protection from infection, the tonsils which constantly guard against invasion of microorganisms from the mouth and nose.
Surprisingly, the appendix plays an important role in immunity. What we once thought as a useless body part is now known to assist in the B Cell maturation and production of the antibody IgA. The appendix signals the white blood cells when there are invaders in the digestive tract while promoting local immunity.
Adequate rest, regular exercise, stress management, and positivity contribute to a strong immune system. Just like soldiers, who need proper nourishment, the immune system substantially relies on fuel to function properly and win battles.
“Our eating habits have a profound effect on how our immune system behaves. There is a body of evidence stating that wholesome plant-based food offers the best nutrition that our body needs for health and longevity. Wholesome food can halt and even reverse diseases. There isn’t a single nutrient in animal-based products that isn’t better provided by plants,” said Domingo.
Immunologist Dr. Jau-Fei Chen, who specializes in immunology and biochemistry from Brigham University, US for more than 20 years, emphasizes the role of healthy nutrition from plant food that is natural and does not cause adverse effects.
She recommends consuming whole plant food rich in phytochemicals, which are vitality hidden within fruits and vegetables, antioxidants, which fight free radicals, and polysaccharides found in certain mushroom species that can activate immune cells to destroy viruses and inhibit tumor growth.
“For the body to function at its best it needs optimal nutrition. Focus on quantity and variety. You need at least 10 to 15 variety of fruits and vegetables each day,” said Domingo
It is truly challenging to consume a variety of fresh produce each day. We have to make them readily available in our pantry and be creative on how to prepare and consume in the form of dishes, snacks, and beverages.
For instance, you can make fruit and vegetable smoothies, juices, and also add shredded veggies like carrots to your sauces. There are fun and nutrition in creativity and variety.
Furthermore, functional food plays a major role in boosting immunity. These are food items that have potentially positive effects on health beyond basic nutrition. It could come in the form of whole, enriched, fortified food, and nutraceuticals in the form of powder, liquid, and capsules.
An example of conventional functional food is sardine, which contains omega-three fatty acids for heart health. An example of a modified functional food is yogurt, which contains live bacteria or probiotics for immunity and digestive health.
“Functional food contains disease-fighting nutrients like phytochemicals, antioxidants, and polysaccharides. A properly nourished immune system has all the ammunition needed to defend the body against bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that are harmful in your body. Everything in our body is interconnected,”she added.