Stop the spread of fake newsTurmeric won’t help, and neither will garlic, against the spread of the Covid-19 disease.
With over 180,000 confirmed cases worldwide, the World Health Organisation has already declared the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak as a pandemic. The virus has been rapidly spreading in 129 countries, causing a global crisis.
Person to person transmission of the novel coronavirus occurs when we are in close contact with an infected person (within three feet distance, according to the WHO). The virus enters our body through respiratory droplets produced while coughing or sneezing. The virus may also remain on various surfaces and enter our body through our eyes, nose and mouth as we touch them with our contaminated hands. This is why public health experts have been emphasising the power of handwashing. At least twenty seconds of proper handwashing with soap and water can significantly minimise the risk of infection. Besides this, maintaining social distance and following good respiratory and personal hygiene are also necessary steps to protect yourself and others from getting infected.
Our body's immune system is the shield that fights back against any infection and disease. When a pathogen enters our body, the immune system mobilises to combat the viral infection and produces antibodies. These antibodies are ultimately what provide immunity against various viruses. Prof Akiko Iwasaki, a virologist at Yale University, tweeted, 'Coronavirus is thirty times more deadly and almost two times more contagious than the flu and we do not have existing immunity to the coronavirus'. This is a unique virus with distinctive characteristics and it must be taken seriously.
As the conversation about ways to prevent and treat coronavirus is ongoing, there are several myths and misconceptions making the rounds on the internet and propagated by self-proclaimed experts or trolls. A few days ago, there was a post on social media that spread misleading information that spicy noodles can prevent coronavirus. Another post claimed that drinking alcohol, and eating foods such as garlic, onion, and turmeric would prevent the viral infection. Hundreds of other social media users re-shared this information without validating if the information was coming from a reliable source.
Eating certain foods cannot prevent us from contracting Covid-19, but making simple diet and lifestyle modifications can certainly boost the immune system that helps us fight back against disease-causing pathogens.
Consuming a home-made and well-cooked nutritious balanced diet that includes a variety of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamin, minerals and fibre in your diet helps. So does drinking plenty of water. Similarly, loading up on fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, amala, and broccoli helps boost the immune system. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and it is not produced or stored in the body, so it must be consumed regularly. This vitamin has numerous other benefits, like in iron absorption, healing of wounds, etc.
Other foods such as spinach, garlic, ginger, turmeric, nuts and seeds, and yoghurt must also be included in the diet as they are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Although the virus can affect any age group, the severity of infection is greater among the elderly population and people with other chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung diseases. So, their dietary needs must be highly prioritised and fulfilled to strengthen immunity. Regular exercise improves the body's overall physical and mental fitness, which helps in strengthening immunity. When a body does not get enough sleep, the production of antibodies and cells that fight infection is reduced. It is essential to get adequate rest every day.
Smoking and consuming alcohol may reduce or disrupt normal immune system function, making one susceptible to several infections and diseases. Chronic smokers may also remain sick for a longer time than non-smokers. Therefore, it is best to avoid cigarette smoking and alcohol.
One misinformation could be life-threating, while a single fact can be lifesaving. So, one must always ensure they are sharing evidence-based information and not hopping on the fake news bandwagon. Stay safe, hygienic, nutritious and healthy. Together we can protect each other and fight back against the spread of Covid-19.
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