Omicron BF.7 scare: Tips to boost immunity amid global rise in Covid cases
Omicron BF.7, which is behind surge in Covid cases in China, has a high transmission rate which means it can infect other people very quickly. Here are tips to boost immunity to prevent infection.
Covid infections driven by latest Omicron subvariant BF.7 is wreaking havoc in China and has been detected in many countries including India. So far, 4 cases of the subvariant are found in states like Gujarat and Odisha and with things going from bad to worse in China, the preparedness to deal with this new Covid scare is now going on in full swing. Experts says people should bring the face masks back to their life, maintain social distancing, wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water at regular intervals, getting this booster doses if due, and follow all the Covid-appropriate measures. The symptoms of the new highly infectious subvariant are not very different from the previous Omicron strains but has a high transmission rate which means it can infect other people very quickly and has a shorter incubation period. (Also read: Omicron BF.7: Cases of highly infectious strain rise in India; experts on symptoms, precautions and fresh wave)
Apart from that, working on your immunity can always help people avoid getting infected with Covid. Eating well, staying physically active, avoiding dehydration and improving sleep hygiene can help our immune system cope better with the disease.
"In wake of past two three waves of Covid, people have become aware about the importance of immunity to fight infection. In past as a nutritionist, I have seen people trying everything and anything to fight Covid, some even had a myth that eating nutraceuticals/having kadas, having herbs, drinking coconut water daily etc will cure them faster if they have Covid. There were and are plenty of supplements and products available in market claiming to help boost immunity. But supporting a healthy immune system is more complicated than taking a mix of vitamins and minerals packaged into a pill/powder or a kada," says Dr. Charu Dua, Chief Clinical Nutritionist, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad.
HOW TO BOOST IMMUNITY AMID OMICRON BF.7 SCARE
"Your immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues and organs that work together to protect your body from infections and diseases. Immunity in itself is not a single entity; your immune system operates in a very delicate balance. It must be strong and sophisticated enough to fight off a variety of illnesses and infections, but not so strong that it overreacts unnecessarily. To achieve this, it's very tightly controlled by many inputs and in response to what's happening inside of your body. Like we said, complex. The immunity of a person is attributed to his/her age, sex, levels of physical activity, ability to cope with stress, lifestyle, and diet, among others, says Dr Dua.
Here are tips by Dr Dua to build and maintain a strong, healthy immune system. Immunity will not build in a day or month, and it is an ongoing consistent effort. Here are things to keep in mind.
Your immune system is smart, but vaccines train it to be even smarter — helping it learn how to recognise and fight off certain disease-causing illnesses. It's much safer for your immune system to learn via vaccination than through infection with these harmful germs.
Eat a healthy diet
Avoid intake of too much salt, processed foods, junk foods. Take 3 vegetables and 2 fruits every day. One half of your plate should comprise fruits and vegetables, leafy vegetables, roots and tubers and other vegetables. A quarter plate should be cereals/millets and the remaining quarter plate should consist of protein-rich foods such as pulses, legumes, eggs, flesh foods and nuts; followed by moderate amounts of varieties of vegetable oils/fats. A glass of milk or milk products such as curd, paneer etc. should accompany the plate.
All the minerals and vitamins is advised instead of using human-made supplements to fill the gap. For an excellent immune system, studies have shown that the body should have minimum levels of Vitamin A, B, C, D and E along with minerals like iron, zinc, selenium, copper etc and phytonutrients, amino acids, fatty acids are necessary for optimal immune function. All should be taken from natural sources rather than pills. These nutrients are critical for the function of T cells, B cells, killer cells, macrophages, neutrophils/granulocytes that are involved in the killing and elimination of infectious microbes.
Regular physical activity
Physical activity not only builds muscles but produces positive hormones which helps you de stress. It's also an important part of being healthy and supporting a healthy immune system. It also contributes to keeping the blood sugar levels in control, improving the functionality and lung capacity of a person, keeping cardiovascular conditions at bay and strengthening bones.
Ensure that you drink enough water every day. Easy way to check you are not dehydrated is to monitor the colour of your urine. If it is transparent or pale yellow then the body is getting an adequate amount of water, if it is dark yellow in colour then you are dehydrated and need more water in your system. Water does not boost your immunity and it also helps flush out toxins from your body and prevent diseases that may result due to a build-up of these toxins.
Improve sleep hygiene
Sleep is important for immune function and the immune system’s homeostasis, set a schedule and routine for sleep and practice good sleep hygiene.
De-stress or manage your stress
Long-term stress leads to inflammation, which can alter your immune system. Stress can potentially have a secondary impact on how well your immune system functions if it leads to sleep disturbances, a tendency to eat less healthy food, reduced water intake, less frequent exercise and more. Get familiar with deep breathing, mediation, prayer, yoga or exercise - these activities will help reduce stress.
Do not go overboard with supplements or kadas
Beware of the claims that say supplements/pills boost your immunity and listen to your doctor's advice instead. For people with existing gastritis, gastric ulcer, duodenal ulcer peptic ulcer, spices may cause undesirable effects. Patients with renal/liver disease/cancer or any other chronic disease should not be consuming extra herbs and spices in name of Covid without taking a proper prescription of a dietician.
Keep washing your hands
Covid-19 pandemic has drawn a lot of attention to the importance of handwashing. One of the best ways to stop the spread of infectious diseases is through frequent, thorough hand washing with soap and water. It also serves as a crucial line of defence against Covid-19.
Follow Covid-appropriate behaviour
Wear masks when outside or at crowded places and always cover your nose and mouth with it properly, maintain social distance of 6 feet, wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds.
Follow more stories on Facebook & Twitter