An expert panel of nutritionists recently noted that obesity needs to be taken seriously and managed on priority basis in the wake of the sedentary lifestyles people have started following owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on right food and exercise. Ishi Khosla, clinical nutritionist, Centre For Dietary Counselling stated that obese people have 70 per cent higher chances of contracting viral diseases and suffering from severe symptoms. She also elaborated on lifestyle diseases that are being triggered by COVID-19 like insomnia, adverse eating habits caused due to ungainly work hours and excessive screen time.
Speaking on the importance of consuming magnesium for people with insomnia, Khosla said, “People who are generally healthy are complaining of not being able to sleep due to anxiety and the fear of uncertainty. There are two parts to tackling it, one is diet and the other is lifestyle interventions. Eat foods that is easy to digest. When your digestion is good, your body begins to relax and can focus on other functions. To calm your nervous system, specific vitamins and minerals, like magnesium can help people with anxiety and sleep disorders. It can also help in controlling cholesterol, diabetes and sleep management.”
The discussion part of the sixth edition of the ‘Illness to Wellness’ series themed ‘Lifestyle Behaviour During COVID-19’ organised by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), one of the apex trade associations of India.
Highlighting how diabetes is no longer just a cosmetic issue, Ritika Samaddar RD, regional head, Department of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, Max Super Speciality Hospital said: “We have noticed that people who are obese, are the ones who are getting severe COVID-19. The mortality rate is high in such people. It is very important to understand that no longer can obesity be restricted to a cosmetic problem, but also as a medical issue. If you are healthy, your immunity is high so your incidence of any kind of infection would be much less. The public should consider obesity as a disease and take all precautions like dietary, lifestyle or medical management to control it,” she said.
Equating healthy living to better immunity, Samaddar shed light on the need to exercise regularly. She added that people need to get back to physical activities like walking, jogging, cycling and running even if gyms continue to remain shut as this is going to be the “new normal”.
Sharing a few quick tips on breaking the sedentary nature of working at home, Khosla emphasised the need to balance screen time and chair time. “We need to keep moving so there should not be more than an hour of constant sitting. This should be followed by 10-15 minutes of walking or strolling. We need to take that break to get up and stretch. Sitting can lead to inflammation. Same goes for screen times. There has to be a pause button.” She added that to battle obesity, focus should be laid on the consumption of functional and fermented foods. For non-vegetarians, she suggested, balancing meat consumption with an anti-inflammatory diet to keep the digestive and gut systems healthy.
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