The nutritional status of people is closely associated with food consumption, its digestibility, and the reoccurrence of the infection.
Long COVID, rising COVID cases, new COVID symptoms, new COVID strain, etc etc, all day everyday COVID news does the round. While it becomes slightly monotonous, it is also important to know what is happening and what we must do to shield ourselves bets from coronavirus infection. This virus is known to affect different organs, and still new studies bring out new findings with regard to the virus. While we know what we must consume to stay fit and healthy with rising COVID cases, we should also focus on gut health. The current literature worldwide discusses the close relationship between nutrition and the widespread COVID-19 infection. The nutritional status of people is closely associated with food consumption, its digestibility, and the reoccurrence of the infection.
Nutritional status can impact our immunity in several ways, including sensitivity to infection, severity of disease, and recovery time. However, it can also impact digestive function, which can further affect nutritional status, immunity, and disease severity.
Micronutrients to take for Gut Immunity
Our gut microbial composition is influenced by a diet rich in vitamins D, B, and C, along with certain trace minerals like zinc, magnesium, selenium, iron and, most importantly, fibre. This composition helps to promote immune responses in the body. Vitamin D deficiency is likely to be associated with common GI disorders like IBS, Crohn’s, and a few uncommon infections.
Gut Immunity and Stress
The relationship between gut microbes and the brain has become one of the most controversial topics. Stomach problems are likely to be associated with stress and anxiety. Like the brain, your gut is full of nerves called the enteric nervous system, or ENS, also called the “second brain.” The enteric nervous system has the same type of neurons and neurotransmitters found in your central nervous system. This connection between the brain and gut affects your digestion, mood, and the way you think. The ENS lines your entire digestive system with more than 100 million nerve cells forming two layers. It runs from the oesophagus to the rectum.
How to Improve Your Gut Health Amid COVID
1.Include Prebiotics and Probiotics
Prebiotics are foods that contain fibres and starches that only the good kinds of bacteria in your gut can digest. Examples include pistachios, barley, onions, legumes, artichokes, sweet corn, cold potato, and raw banana. On the other hand, probiotics can be purchased over the counter, as these foods include large numbers of healthy bacteria. Probiotic foods are unpasteurised, allowing them to contain live cultures of bacteria. Examples include kombucha, pickles, yoghurt, canned vegetables, and kimchi.
2. Include Colourful Vegetables
Eating colourful vegetables on a daily basis keeps your gut bacteria active. This will help them grow and develop an ideal gut microbiome. Ideally, purple cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, and leafy greens, such as spinach or kale, are excellent sources of fibre, as well as nutrients like folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin A. Research shows that leafy greens also contain a specific type of sugar that helps fuel the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
3. Drink Plenty of Water
To maintain good health, it is important to stay hydrated. Drinking water helps maintain electrolyte balance and blood pressure while also boosting the digestive process. Aim to drink between eight to ten glasses of water every day.
4. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise also plays a crucial role in digestion. Walking after a meal stimulates the digestive tract to contract, allowing for the passage of food and waste through the intestines. This results in more regular bowel movements and less gas and bloating throughout the GI tract.
5. Have a good night’s sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is equally important. Studies suggest that a lack of sleep can lead to a reduction in healthy gut microbes. An unhealthy gut microbiome can also negatively affect sleep. Many people with stomach problems report poor sleep quality or not getting enough sleep. By regulating the dietary changes mentioned above, a healthy gut system can be built.
It is always advisable to consult a doctor or nutritionist before making any changes to your diet or starting a new dietary supplement. This is particularly important during an infection period. It is crucial to prioritise nutrient-dense foods loaded with good calories and antioxidants for optimal health.
(inputs from By Sonali Kulkarni, Chief Dietician at Even Healthcare)