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Our body's immune system is responsible for protecting us from diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, and toxins. A well-functioning immune system help removes foreign bodies and malignant cells from the system. It helps regulate the immune responses against harmless external triggers such as food or the bodies' tissue.
Individuals who have pre-existing illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory issues are at a higher risk of having COVID-19 complications because these conditions affect the immune system by making it weak and increasing the chances of contracting diseases .
Recently, the government has listed some food items on its mygovindia Twitter handle, which it recommends you consume to boost your natural immunity amid the Covid crisis. So, let's check the foods and measures shared by the handle and assess whether those guidelines are, in fact, beneficial in the fight against COVID-19.
Diet To Boost Immunity, According To MoHFW
1. 5 servings of coloured fruits and vegetables to get adequate vitamins and minerals are recommended.
2. Small amounts of dark chocolate with at least 70 per cent cocoa to get rid of anxiety.
3. Take turmeric milk once a day to boost immunity .
4. Eat soft foods at small intervals and add amchoor in the food.
5. The main focus for COVID patients should be to consume foods that would help rebuild muscles immunity and energy levels .
6. They should eat whole grains like ragi, oats, and amaranth.
7. Good sources of protein such as chicken, fish, eggs, paneer, soy, nuts, and seeds are highly recommended .
8. Healthy fats like walnuts, almonds, olive oil, and mustard oil are recommended.
9. Regular physical activity (yoga) and breathing exercise advised as per tolerance .
Where's The Proof For Dark Chocolate, Ask Experts
The above-mentioned 'guidelines' can be effective for a healthy individual or even an individual with mild symptoms of COVID-19; however, experts are questioning the authenticity of one of the guidelines for a COVID positive person.
Public health researchers have asked Health Minister Harsh Vardhan to present evidence after asking people to have dark chocolate with 70 per cent cocoa content to beat COVID-19 related stress .
Anant Bhan, a bioethics researcher who works out of Pune and Bhopal, asked the minister, "Where is the evidence in Covid context?" .
Is Dark Chocolate Beneficial For Stress?
Consuming certain types of food can help fix the imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your gut and manage stress levels. When you are in a state of anxiety, your body is in a fight-or-flight mode, causing the stress hormone cortisol levels to spike . Eating stress-reducing foods can help boost feel-good hormones and decrease cortisol levels.
Researchers say eating dark chocolate can change your brain wave frequency, providing stress reduction . Packed with fibre and antioxidants, dark chocolate made from 70 per cent cocoa beans can help manage stress.
Consumption of antioxidants has the capability to change your brain frequency (gamma), which is associated with the highest level for cognitive processing, memory, recall, as well as stress management .
Another study had found that eating the equivalent of one average-sized dark chocolate candy bar (1.4 ounces) each day for two weeks reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the fight-or-flight hormones (known as catecholamines) in highly stressed people . It was also found that dark chocolate has beneficial effects on metabolism and microbial activity in the gut, which in turn can ease stress.
Additionally, the higher the cocoa content, the better it is for your health, so aim for a bar of dark chocolate with 80 per cent cocoa or higher.
But whether dark chocolate could help deal with COVID-stress is something that has to be studied further.
On A Final Note...
Dark chocolate can help manage stress; studies have shown. But whether it could help deal with COVID-stress is something that needs further clarification and definitely, more studies to assess whether eating dark chocolate can, in fact, help with severe stress.