As the world reels from the effects of the Coronavirus, now, more than ever is the time to make healthier life choices. From washing hands often to improving your diet, are all ways to support your immune system which is your first line of defence against any illness, physiologically.
So, we spoke to celebrity nutritionist Nmami Agarwal, founder of Nmami Life to learn how to do just that.
"A healthy lifestyle can help build the foundation of well-being and can help your body prepare for outbreaks like novel Coronavirus. The first and foremost step would always be preventive measures followed by a healthy lifestyle, she says.
One way to build your immunity is by including proteins in your diet. Namami says, "Proteins are one of those essential macronutrients that help to build a stronger immunity apart from contributing to muscle growth and development. So, one must ensure to fill at least 1/4th of your plate with protein-rich foods for every meal, as a general guideline to meeting our daily protein requirements, " she says.
So, here are her tips to get started on a protein-rich diet:
Track your intake
"In order to learn the various protein-rich sources of foods one you could simply look it through an online tool called Protein Index, that helps list out all the whole foods that are protein-rich. And in order to know how much protein you are already consuming daily, you can track the same by using the Protein-O-Meter, a freely available online protein calculator developed by Right To Protein Initiative to help Indians, across different age-groups track their daily protein
intake and help them make necessary improvements by providing relevant suggestions."
What you can eat
"A protein-rich diet can make it easier for your body to combat acute or chronic diseases. To obtain your daily dose of dietary protein, you can rely on the following food sources:
• Lean meat
• Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, trout
• Legumes, pulses such as lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, soybeans
• Dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt
• Nuts such as walnuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts
• Whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, millets, oats
• Veggies such as broccoli, yellow sweet corn, peas, edamame, kale, Brussels sprouts
How does protein help?
"Your immune system works through the usage of certain protein molecules called antibodies. These antibodies come into action as a response to harmful foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses. Vaccinations also work by stimulating the release of antibodies in the body, whenever required.
Cytokines are also a group of proteins that are specifically secreted by the immune system. These cytokines are used by your body to signal for regulation of immunity. A special kind of cytokine protein known as tumour necrosis factor (TNF) can signal the destruction of unhealthy cells including cancer cells. It also works against bacterial and viral infections.
The structural units of protein are called amino acids. Glutamine is a type of amino acid that helps in the production of cytokines and regulating the immune system when the body needs it.
There is specific type of cells for adaptive immunity called T- cells. The deficiency of an amino acid called arginine can lead to suppression of T cell functioning.
Your gut is packed with 60-70% of immune cells and these cells utilize branched-chain amino acids for fuelling themselves making consumption of dietary protein necessary to boost or build immunity.
A specialized type of protein known as ULBP6 is present on the surface of damaged cells and signals the immune system to destroy such cells. "