Food for immunity: Two experts from Hyderabad weigh in about the do’s and don’ts of your diet during COVID-19 recovery

This week we will be exploring the story in our print edition in greater detail, but here are a few pointers that can help.

author_img Paulami Sen and Suchitra Behara Published :  19th May 2021 12:17 PM   |   Published :   |  19th May 2021 12:17 PM
Dietician Sridevi Jasti

Dietician Sridevi Jasti

Post-vaccination and after one’s body is recuperating post a bout of COVID-19 infection, there are several ways food can be used as fuel to heal better. This week we will be exploring the story in our print edition in greater detail. However, here are a few pointers about how one can aid your body’s recovery as we spoke to two Hyderabad-based dietary exponents to understand this in greater detail. From ordering-in right to vegan ways to keep your gut health in check, here are a few tips:

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Sridevi Jasti, Chief Nutritionist at Vibrant Living, Hyderabad
The founder and chief nutritionist of  Vibrant Living, Sridevi Jasti is and is known for being a well-known force behind popularising holistic practices. When we asked her about the dos and don’ts of our diets during the rise of the number of COVID-19 cases, she tells us that ginger, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, and herbs like tulsi and mint are the powerful ingredients that we must incorporate in our everyday intake. She also shares the right ways to cook the food. “You must not fry or roast vegetables, instead try steaming. When we speak of seeds and nuts, they must be soaked according to their size. When you cook legumes, they must be soaked before cooking,” Sridevi informs.

She talks about Indian cooking and adds, “We must revisit the ancient methods of cooking. Like, Saddi Annam - fermented rice with curd. At Vibrant Living, we use millets instead of rice and substitute the dairy curd with coconut curd, for we practice veganism. Inclusion of javas, majjiga pulusu, and other traditional foods are fantastic for your gut health.”

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The wellness coach also shares tips to prevent and combat coronavirus. “For Covid prevention, one must include probiotic-rich foods, high immunity foods. Good sleep and exercise serve as an added advantage. If you are diagnosed with the virus, the first thing to do is to not panic and stay calm. You ought to take your vitamin supplements, seeds, and nuts, prescribed medicines. Once you are recovered, concentrate on your digestion and go gentle on it,” Sridevi informs.

Nikhil Chaudhury

Nikhil Chaudhary, Nutritionist, Hyderabad
Hyderabad-based nutritionist Nikhil Chaudhary, also gives us useful dietary insights from his experience of working with COVID-19 patients in the last one-and-a-half years. He stresses on liquid consumption, as in his opinion it is one of the strongest ammunition against viral infections. “Most of my patients resorted to consuming five to eight litres of liquids every day including mineral water, buttermilk, herbal teas, green juices, lemon juice, golden water (water + turmeric), and so on,” says Nikhil, adding that he does not recommend are fruit juices and milk.

Nikhil highlights a research work from a team from Russia’s Vector State Research Centre Of Virology and Biotechnology in Novosibirsk, Siberia that has discovered that drinking normal temperature water can restrict the growth of coronavirus. He elaborates, “Water makes up more than 60% of our body and it is the best armour we have to fight Corona and other viral infections. Avoid demineralised and low TDS RO water. Stick to drinking mineral water or mineralising the RO water by adding minerals/ fruits and vegetable slices before drinking.”

Meanwhile, he suggests that  Post COVID recovery and post-vaccination, a relatively similar dietary approach can be followed. “Consuming fermented foods especially after consuming antibiotics during infection is important to maintain a healthy population of gut bacteria. Foods like curd, kanji water, kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, barley raab are good options especially for the summer season,” confirms the nutritionist. He shares that fermented dishes are best consumed cold as heating kills the helpful bacteria. Nikhil also suggests whole-grain lentils, legumes, pulses and sprouts of these grains are a rich source of protein and fibre that one can try. “All our antibodies are mostly proteins and it is important to maintain a good supply of proteins from healthy natural sources. If consuming eggs, meat or fish ensure that it is organic, not fried and accompanied with vegetables while eating,” shares the Hyderabad-based nutritionist, adding that to get maximum benefits, one must consume red rice instead of white rice, consume whole pulses instead of polished yellow pulses - for instance, green mung is better than yellow mung, red chana is better than yellow chana dal.

One must exercise some caution while ordering out he says, he highlights, adding that one is better off ordering from a busier restaurant as the chances of finding fresh food there is relatively higher and one must eat hot, he says. Avoid high sugar, high fat, high carbohydrate foods like sandwiches, pasta, pizza, naan, white rice items, ice cream, colas, fruit juices, smoothies, breads, fries, says Nikhil,  as they make one vulnerable to infections. Lastly, Nikhil points out that one must not skip your meal to compensate for outside food indulgence. “Many people tend to skip food after they have eaten something unhealthy. It is not a good practice and instead, we must eat a high quantity of salads and drink lemon juice to eliminate such foods faster from the body.”

Look out for our cover story, Wellness On A Plate, slated to release this Friday.