Highlighting the need for inclusion of vitamins and minerals in our diet, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), an apex trade association of India, in its second edition of the ‘Illness to Wellness’ series stated that boosting one’s immunity using local, traditional food is the first course of action to beat coronavirus, if contracted.
“There are several foods which are rich in natural minerals and nutrients but we destroy their nutritional value in the course of our cooking and consumption practices. An example is wheat which in its original form is dalia. It has important minerals like phosphorus but in our strange wisdom we powder it into a refined maida which is nothing but starch and increases weight and risk of diabetes,” said Dr Shikha Sharma, founder and managing director of Dr Shikha’s NutriHealth, and one of the speakers at the event.
Listing food items like barley, chana, sattu, seeds — pumpkin, sunflower, chia and flax along with others, she said that these can be included in diet for a nutrition boost across all age groups.
Anil Rajput, chairman, ASSOCHAM CSR Council, weighing in on the economic and personal effect of coronavirus, said, “COVID-19 has had de-stabilising effect on almost all walks of life for almost five months now. Right now, from nations to societies to economies to health of individuals, it has been an extremely stressful period for all. It has forced on us an unprecedented situation. One has taken quite a bit of time for us to understand the magnitude and painful reality of how slow the recovery is likely to be. It is the individual who has been at the centre of all-round anxiety and insecurity be at economic or personal health front level.”
The event themed ‘Building immunity through nutritious food during COVID-19’ saw experts speak on healthy living with focus on wellness and preventive health through healthy habits, diet, exercise, and holistic health.
Dr Sharma also enlisted several Ayurvedic herbs that can be used to boost immunity and create an all-rounded diet. “Ashwagandha is a very powerful herb that can be given to both seniors and children. It builds the body’s immunity and reduces stress. Giloy purifies the blood and keeps the pH intact,” she said. She further added tulsi and turmeric to the list.
Dismissing the need for a protein or carbohydrate rich diet, Dr Sharma stressed on the importance of a balanced diet with ample supply of essential fatty acids, protein and carbs found through local traditional grains, millets, pulses, dairy products and greens. She said, “The beauty of Indian traditions during COVID times is that we need the support of this amazing knowledge of Indian Ayurveda and traditions to beat it.”
Nutrition educator and wellness consultant Sangeeta Narayan commented on mental health and importance of a proper diet. She said, “Stress plays a very important part in mental health considering the current times. With everything changing, we have to be adaptive. The first and foremost thing is to have a proper six-eight hour sleep, plan your day in advance, doing all the chores can be overwhelming so allocate tasks for each day whether living with a family or alone. Add fruits or food items rich in vitamin C, they act as a stress buster and immunity booster. Having proper meals is important especially a nutritious and nourishing breakfast. Exercising plays a very important role in managing stress and keeping the mind clear.”