Dr. Bartholomew I. C. Brai is the President, Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), and a consultant nutritionist at the Federal University Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State.
Dr. Brai has made recommendations on what local foods to eat to beat the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and other chronic diseases. Hippocrates was quoted as saying, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” This statement is used to emphasize the importance of nutrition to prevent or cure disease. Nutrition is the foundation for healthy living and this means that consumption of nutritious and healthy diets is key to staying healthy. Nigeria is blessed with diverse foods that, when consumed in appropriate quantities and quality, and with proper hygiene, can help individuals stay healthy.
A good diet is the bedrock of a good immune system needed to fight off infections and diseases. It must, however, be noted that no particular food or nutrient alone is sufficient to boost the immune system. Foods available in Nigeria that can contribute required nutrients for boosting immunity include: legumes like beans, soybeans, and lentils, which are all nutrient-dense and are known to contain a high amount of protein.
Proteins (amino acids) are essential in the production of antibodies that are needed to fight against infections. Tubers/roots – yam, cocoyam, potato, cassava; cereals – maize, millet, sorghum; legumes – beans, soybeans and cowpeas, ground nuts, cashew nuts and walnuts are all good for enhancing immunity. Fresh, dark, green leafy vegetables and fruits are rich in minerals and vitamins A, C, E, B6, B12, iron and zinc.
Other vegetables like fluted pumpkin leaves, African spinach, cabbages and spring onions are vital in assisting the regeneration of body cells. Vitamins and minerals aid in building and maintaining a healthy immune system. Eating seafoods regularly can strengthen the immune system. Seafoods like oysters, shrimps, periwinkle, and crabs and are all excellent sources of selenium, a mineral, and an antioxidant, that helps in boosting the immune system. Eggs, liver, dairy products especially low-fat yoghurt, are healthy and can help you maintain a good immune system as they contain protein, calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and vitamin B2 (riboflavin).
The body requires adequate levels of vitamin D and other nutrients for optimal immune functioning. Yoghurt is also rich in probiotics, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Lactobacillus casei. These probiotics boost immune function and may even help reduce both the duration and severity of colds as well as enhance immune function to fight diseases. Guardian