Amid fear of contracting swine flu rising across the country, nutritionists have noted that a little more attention to your diet can help fight the disease that has reportedly killed over 1,100 people so far.
“Diet plays a major role in preventing swine flu as it affects mostly the people with low immunity level,” said New Delhi-based nutritionist Shikha Sharma of Nutri-Health Systems that works in the field of weight management and lifestyle related disorders.
“Taking food rich in antioxidants boost up the immunity level. Fresh fruits and vegetables contains lot of antioxidants,” she told IANS.
Sharma recommended vitamin C-rich food to boost immunity level.
Those who are immunocompromised should, however, also include protein-rich food like chicken, fish and soya products in their diets, Sharma, who is also a qualified doctor, noted.
Juices made from fresh carrot, amla and spinach can also help people prevent the disease caused by H1N1 virus.
Ishi Khosla, clinical nutritionist and founder of Whole Foods India, a chain of cafe cum retail outlets, said herbs such as tulsi, garlic and turmeric can also help boost immunity.
“The antioxidant property of garlic also helps boost the immune system by increasing natural killer cells,” she noted.
“Turmeric’s ability to modulate the immune system has been shown and it is known to have antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal activity,” Khosla, who is also the founder of theweightmonitor.com, a weight loss solution provider, noted.
Shikha Sharma added ginger to the list of immunity-boosting herbs. While sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds can also be included in the diet, herbs like garlic and ginger also give immunity a boost according to her. She noted that loss of appetite is one of the symptoms of swine flu.
When asked for an ideal diet for those who have already been affected by the virus, she advised, “Do not force yourself to eat. Take small and frequent meals. Include more of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet and take plenty of fluids including vegetable soups.”
They should avoid sharing food and drink and avoid tea and coffee, cautioned the nutritionist who has been actively working in the field of preventive medicine for the past 15 years.
“In fruits have more of apple, orange, pear and grapes and in vegetables, have more of spinach, cabbage, and other colourful vegetables,” Sharma noted.
According to health ministry officials, over 21,000 cases of swine flu have been reported so far this year, making the number of affected people highest since 2009 when over 27,236 cases were reported. With over 5,262 reported cases and 251 deaths between Jan 1 and Feb 26, Rajasthan is so far the worst affected state this year.
Health Minister J.P. Nadda recently announced that there was no shortage of drugs to treat swine flu, adding that swine flu vaccine may not offer foolproof protection against the virus and that personal protection measures like a wearing a mask and maintaining cleanliness can go a long way in preventing the spread of the disease.
(Gokul Bhagabati can be contacted at [email protected])