Updated: Aug 15
The whole world today is reeling under the #coronavirus and more specifically the #covid19 pandemic. Thousands of people have been exposed to the Covid19 virus, however, hundreds tested positive, many of them recovered but some unfortunately succumbed to the virus.
What then differentiates the people who were exposed but did not test positive or those who successfully recovered from the virus from those who succumb to it. It’s the body’s ability to fight the virus which, essentially comprises of the person’s immunity. Reduced immunity largely depends on four factors., low calorie diets with low protein-energy ratio, low protein consumption, micro-nutrient deficiency, oxidative stress. These four factors, not only makes a person more susceptible to contacting the virus but also increases the chances of making the infection more severe or virulent.
For an individual leading sedentary life, WHO recommends a minimum protein-energy ratio of 15 for ensuring base level of immunity. To achieve this ratio with normal Indian Diet supplemented with a liter of milk, one has to consume a minimum of 2400 calories or a 2000 calorie diet fortified with protein supplements. Most of us are not able to consume as much calories and hence our immunity levels go down.
Indians are largely deficient in protein. Most Indians, consume dhals and legumes as preferred protein sources. As, per WHO, all dhals and legumes (except for soy) are incomplete proteins and calorie dense. Milk protein supplemented traditional Indian diet, along with other complete and protein dense sources like soy, eggs, chicken, fish and / or vegan protein like hemp, pea protein, Wheat Gluten, rice protein go a long way in ensuring consistent protein intake, which builds immunity.
As many of us Indians, consume less than required wholesome calories in a day., we invariably are mal-nourished with a lot of nutritional deficiencies. Having balanced nutrition comprising of whole foods, complete protein, diversity of vegetables, fruits, and good fats in the form of nuts, seeds and seed oils builds our immunity considerably. Our hectic lifestyle, does not allow us to have balanced nutrition on most days and hence balanced food fortified with good quality supplements is the key to long term good health.
Oxidative stress occurs when body produces more Free Radicals than can be neutralized by Antioxidants supplied by the Diet. Excess free radicals damage the tissues. If this happens during infection, body will have problem bearing the brunt of dual damages i.e. from infection as well as free radicals.
Deepika Chalasani is a Clinical Nutritionist, Mind and Body Transformation Coach and co-founder of Fit4Life India, an integrated nutrition and wellness organisation for Indians that provides complete solutions, addressing health and wellness challenges of individuals by working on their overall well being. Deepika, Dietician & Nutritionist is based in Hyderabad, India and can be contacted via email firstname.lastname@example.org or Mobile +91 94910 11202.