In the past 17 odd months, time and again we have been emphasizing the significance of a strong immune system. And for building the right kind of immunity, your diet and nutrition play an important role. So, eating a balanced diet is even more important given the Covid-19 pandemic. Whatever we eat and drink can directly affect our body’s ability to prevent, fight & recover from infections.

While no single food or dietary supplement can prevent Covid-19 infection, the inclusion of five food groups such as cereals, pulses & legumes, milk & milk products, fruits & veggies, and fats & oils in your regular diet is important for supporting the immune system. Good nutrition can also help to reduce the risk of developing other health problems, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer.

Now, a nutritious and healthy diet is important for all age groups. For new-borns, a healthy diet means exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months, with the introduction of nutritious and safe foods to complement breast milk from age 6 months to 2 years & beyond. For young children, a balanced diet is essential for rapid growth and development. For older people, it can help to ensure healthier and more active lives.


• Eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as it is high in fiber. Vegetables and fruits that are deeply coloured are especially recommended as they have the highest micronutrient content.

• Choose whole-grain, high-fiber foods. These include fruits, vegetables, and legumes (beans). Good whole grain choices include whole Wheat, Oats/ Oatmeal, Rye, Barley, Brown Rice, Millets, etc.

•Consume good amount of protein like skim milk & its products, cow’s milk, legumes, pulses, whole grains, egg whites, poultry, and fish

•Eat foods rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids like fish, especially oily fish (Sardine, Mackerel, Tuna, Salmon, Herring, Trout), Almonds, Walnuts, Flaxseeds – this helps in lowering bad cholesterol

•Limit the intake of saturated fat and transfat food such as bakery products, cakes, pastries, packaged foods, fried items, red meat, Ghee, Butter, Dalda and margarine. Also restrict intake of egg yolk, shellfish which are high in cholesterol

•Limit the intake of oil to half kg per person per month. Prefer using blends of oil in weekly rotation as the content of PUFA, MUFA and SAFA varies in each oil

•Prefer cooking methods like broiling, boiling, stewing, grilling, baking, roasting rather than frying your food

•Reduce intake of salt in your foods as it may increase blood pressure which is a risk factor for heart disease. Restricting intake of foods like pickles, papad, canned & preserved vegetables/ fruits, dry fish, namkeen, readymade chutneys, tomato ketchup, ready to eat and ready to cook products is important

•Cut down on carbonated beverages and foods that contain added sugars (Corn Syrups, Sucrose, Glucose, Fructose, Maltrose, Dextrose, concentrated fruit juice, honey)

•Consume alcohol in moderation

•Check your portion size and have small and frequent meals; avoid feasting and fasting

•Exercise regularly for at least 30-40 minutes, 5 days a week. It is advisable to do Yoga, brisk walking, aerobics, swimming, and bicycling

Finally, a healthy diet without regular exercise and activeness will not really help. Therefore, maintaining a balance between diet, exercise, work, play, and good sleep is paramount. Remember, your over well-being is critical to build a strong immune system.

The writer is Clinical Dietitian, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan

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