From The Expert: Coronavirus, Precautions and Immunity

01 Mar 2020

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The year 2020 started with hope and excitement. However, with the outbreak of coronavirus the world is down to its knees. Just three months into it and we are in a critical situation, quarantined. This is not only terrifying but difficult for many of us to deal with.

Everybody is trying their best to stay safe, but there are a few things that we as normal citizens are unable to understand about the virus. To know how to deal with these stressful times, we had a conversation with Dr Hetal Pal who has a Ph.D in Foods, Nutrition & Dietetics and has has been a nutritionist for more than 9 years. Here’s what she said.

1. Coronavirus has been announced as a pandemic. Should we be worried?

By labeling the spread of a pandemic, WHO (World Health Organization) was indicating that the virus was now a worldwide phenomenon. Calling COVID-19 a pandemic does not mean that it has become more deadly, it is an acknowledgment of its global spread. It is important to focus on prevention and preparedness rather than getting stressed about it.

2. All the major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, etc. have some confirmed cases. How does one deal with the anxiety about it?

Do not panic, but focus on taking precautions. Stay away from rumors. Keep yourself informed, check for factual updates on the virus from trusted sources. Stick with sources of credible medical information, so you can avoid misinformation about the virus and the illness it causes. 

3. The fear and anticipation for this can be quite bad. How do we keep ourselves calm?

  • Connect with friends and loved ones through video chats, phone calls, texting, and email.
  • We live in a tech age that allows us to connect with work colleagues too.
  • Focus on the activities that can help calm your mind, try meditation or do some breathing exercises.
  • Pick up any of your hobbies reading, painting, and play board games. Keep yourself busy at home.

4. In a community space or public places like offices, etc. how do we maintain our health in general? 

  • Make sure you wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Maintain at least a 3-meter distance from anyone coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid physical contact when greeting.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; cover the mouth and nose with a bent elbow or disposable tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Use an alcohol-based sanitizer regularly.

5. What is the best way to fight/prevent it?

Best way to prevent is by building up your immunity

  • Get your dose of probiotics (yogurt/kombucha or kefir drink) to boost your immunity.
  • Also add vitamin C in your diet through amla, citrus fruits.
  • Check your vitamin D levels. If they are low take supplements after consulting your doctor.
  • Add garlic and ginger and turmeric to boost your immunity.
  • Get your phytochemicals and antioxidants from fresh fruits and veggies as they will boost your immunity levels.
  • Include Omega 3 fatty acids rich foods such as walnuts, flaxseeds if necessary take supplements.
  • Add zinc and selenium in the diet – including beans and lentils, whole grain cereals, nuts and seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, and flaxseeds to boost your immunity.
  • Get sufficient sleep and try adding exercise as it strengthens your body’s immune response.
  • Do pranayama daily as it reduces stress levels and fights against anxiety to boost the immune system.
  • Make sure to hydrate yourself well.

6. What are the activities or foods that weaken our immunity?

Excessive intake of sugar or processed foods will weaken your immune system. Avoid sodas, alcohol, junk food, excessive caffeine. Not getting enough sleep can also weaken your immune system.

7. How does a strong immunity help us otherwise also?

The immune system is your body’s natural defence system. It helps to defend our body against any infections and keeps us healthy.

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