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Personal Hygiene, balanced diet key to lines of defence to increase immunity and avoid infections

Today India along with the world is fighting the pandemic of corona virus which has affected both the developed and the developing countries. More than 227 countries across the globe have been affected. Everyone irrespective of their age, caste, creed, sex, poor or rich all are at the risk of being infected. The most common symptoms of this disease are fever, dry cough, shortness of breath additionally some people may experience body ache, nasal congestion or a running nose, sore throat and diarrhoea. If not taken care in the primary stage it can need hospitalisation or it can prove fatal if proper treatment is not given. Individuals with any prior disease are more prone for complications. It is considered to be a respiratory disease in its acute phase and can further lead to pneumonia. 

Now with the monsoon in India especially in Mumbai on the verge of starting as pre monsoon showers have already proved its attendance all of us need to be extra careful. Monsoon does bring happiness in our lives and it makes our environment clear after a hot and scorching summer. There are many fun things and activities that one can think of doing. 

But today with the presence of Covid 19 in the Spence of the monsoon the humidity settles and that allows infections, viruses to spread faster than ever. The common illnesses caused by monsoon like malaria, dengue, typhoid, cholera, gastroenteritis, Hepatitis 'A', viral fever and influenza are usually caused by multiple virus and bacteria which can be present in air, water, food or even contaminated surfaces. The slightest contact of unclean hands with the mouth can transfer to your body and get you infected. These illnesses also exhibit the same symptoms as Covid 19 and therefore to avoid them the best way is to stop these infections from reaching you by avoiding the rains and staying safe and dry at home. 

Vaccination is the first line of defence as one shot can provide protection for at least half a year. Maintaining personal hygiene is next by taking a clean bath everyday also washing hands with soap and water after using the washroom and before and after meals. Hand hygiene is of paramount importance to be followed at all times by the use of soap, water and sanitizers. Opting for drinking clean , boiled and cool water to help keep you well hydrated and to keep your system clean. Avoiding outside food which can be exposed for a longer duration with more fats, spices and sugar. 

In case of a sore throat and pain, gargling with salt water helps, trying to consume home fresh cooked meals is always preferred. Use of herbal tea is preferred so as to help maintain the body temperature. One of the major problems suffered by people during monsoon is reduction of humidity. Having a strong immune system is the only way of letting the virus take over your health.

However, arresting sickness isn't when people around you may be sniffing or sneezing. It depends on how strong your immune system is. Nutrition is a critical determinant of immunity and immune malnutrition. The most common cause of immune deficiency worldwide. Deficiency of a single nutrient results in altered immune response which is observed even when deficiency is relatively mild. Maintaining a good diet by consuming foods rich in Vitamin C, D, folic acid, B6, B12, Proteins with micronutrients, zinc, selenium, iron, copper have an important influence on the immune system 

As over nutrition and obesity also reduce immunity. Daily 20-40 minutes light exercise helps in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and strong immunity. Excess consumption of red meats, fat and sugar is a major factor which affects immune system as this leads to the inflammation in the body causing several health issues. Also, maintaining gut health is very important as gut is one barrier of our body which is exposed to new and different foreign material in the form of food. Intestinal immune system encounters more antigens than any other part of our body. 

So as a robust gut is a sign of good health. In the recent concept of prebiotics and probiotics as gut modifies do help maintain immune system. It is important to know that no single food is super food a balanced macro and micro nutrients is necessary for optimal functions of the immune system. In short, to boost up your immunity you at least have to have good sleep, good nutrition and vegetables, making your plate colourful with the use of berries, citrus fruits, apples, spinach, sweet potatoes and carrots. Including foods rich in Vitamin C, D, E, Zinc, Selenium, Iron, copper and protein. Fresh garlic may help fight viruses and bacteria. A normal decoction of Indian spices and herbs do help . 

Mixed fruits, vegetable juices and bitter gourd, methi also helps in increasing your immunity. Proper exercise or 40 minutes walk with proper hygiene and safety precautions help. Maintaining good hygiene and keeping ourselves hydrated helps in decreasing the infections and helping in a strong immune system. Monsoon diseases come in all shapes and forms. Elderly and children are the vulnerable population. Prevention is the best cure. Spending the entire season in bed. Having regular vaccinations and shots and having nutritional meals with proper macro and micro antioxidants pre and probiotics with good hydration. Mental health, meditation, positive thoughts will help to improve our immunity and keep illnesses at bay. 

Dr. Anjali Nair, Head dietician, EON

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