Updated: Jun 24, 2021
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New strains of COVID-19 continue to surface as the virus mutates to adapt to its environment. As we continue to expediate mass vaccination across the nation, many Filipinos are asking about ways and means to protect themselves against this dreaded virus apart from the mandatory health protocols that are already in place.
According to Amar Chandnani, who took Nutrition Science in Stanford University in the USA, nutrient-dense food and supplementation of certain vitamins, minerals and herbs are critical to support our bodies' natural defenses against pathogens such as viruses and bacteria.
"As we navigate through this pandemic ang go about our daily routine, Filipinos that have a stronger immune system can ward off diseases better than others," says Chandnani. "When we go out, we expose ourselves to pathogens around us but if our immune system is at its peak, infection is highly unlikely.
Since 2019, Amar and his wife, Cherisse Chandnani, have been conducting weekly live streams under their company Herbs of the Earth, via Facebook, YouTube and through merchant sites such as Lazada. They have been giving hacks, tips and recommendations on health, wellness and wellbeing.
In the middle of the surge in infections last year, Herbs of the Earth donated food supplements, vitamins and minerals to doctors, nurses and other front liners in hospitals and government institutions to help them ward off Covid-19. These food supplements from Herbs of the Earth are Philippine FDA registered.
During the Herb of the Earth live streams, the Chandnanis shared some recommendations that are applicable to all Filipinos.
"Food is the primary source of macronutrients that our bodies need to function optimally and so it's imperative to consider food groups that contribute to boosting our immune system and our overall health." they say.
Let food become "whole" again.
"Rice is life" and it's true. However, the quality and processes used with commercial rice nowadays strip the grains of the much-needed fiber we used to get generations ago. So choose whole grains such as red rice, black or brown rice. Avoid white rice as this has been refined to extend its expiration date. Red rice is full of fiber and antioxidants that fight free radicals. If you love pasta and bread, go for the whole-wheat grain pasta and whole-wheat bread as well. The nutrition industry is in one accord when it comes to choosing whole foods because this type of food is definitely nutrient dense.
Eat more veggies; French Fries don't count.
The portion size of vegetables should be at least 1/3 of the plate. Filipinos have been very creative when it comes to vegetable dishes especially because of this pandemic and let's hope it stays that way.
Eat fruits that are in season.
Whatever fruit is in season should be consumed because it contains the nutrients our bodies need for that particular season or time of the year. take for example mangoes. Mangoes are touted as the king of all fruits because it has tons of health benefits and they are in season during the summer months, so it helps in preventing heat stroke. The enzymes in mangoes also help us lose weight.
Go for a better protein source.
One of the most common reasons why Filipinos love red meat such as pork and beef is because we grew up being told that red meat is the best source of protein and protein gives us energy. But the truth is, we also get protein from vegetables and lean meat such as chicken or fish. In terms of nutritional value, vegetables, particularly legumes, pulses and lentils actually contain all the essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein.
Choose the right cooking oil.
Being on extended lockdown has taught Filipinos to adapt and adjust. The type of food we intake should also be part of the paradigm shift starting with the oil we use for cooking. Canola oil is a much better alternative as well as grapeseed oil.
House Chores = Exercise.
Doing household chores burns up to 190 calories per hour.
Shutdown for at least eight hours.
Sleeping for at least eight hours is the ultimate energy and immune booster.
Fuel-up with water.
Water is a vital nutrient needed by every cell in our body. Up to 60 percent of our body is water and so replenishing with at least 10 glasses of water daily is critical.
Supplement with vitamins, minerals and herbs.
Food supplements have always been a convenient source for micronutrients that are critical to the optimal functioning of our organs. Apart from the common vitamin C, these nutrients help boost our immune system: zinc, vitamin D, vitamin B complex, quercetin, selenium and probiotics are among the most studied vitamins and minerals that support our immune system.
Published at The Philippine Star newspaper, Lifestyle - Health & Family section on June 22, 2021.