EXCLUSIVE: What food items help in preventing seasonal flu or virus, expert explains

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During winters, we usually witness a spike in seasonal flu, fever, cold and cough but it rings an alarm bell more so in the midst of the COVID outbreak. To maintain a healthy balance in diet, Celebrity Dietician and Nutritionist Swati Bathwal in an exclusive interview with Zee News Digital shared what works best in winters and food items that we must include in our daily diet:

(Celebrity Dietician and Nutritionist Swati Bathwal)

Q. What should people include in their daily diet to maintain rich nutrition levels?

A. We worry about macro-nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins and fats and ignore the micronutrients which are essential for our well being and they play an important role in the metabolic pathways of our bodies. Minerals, Vitamins and Hydration are often ignored by people. So, an overall balance is a necessity and we also need to know the right combination, what’s the point of consuming meals when it is not absorbed through our gut.

For example: we have tea with milk and then we have almonds or nuts. But nutrients in tea do not get absorbed in the presence of milk and iron from nuts do not get absorbed in the presence of tea due to a compound called tannins. So, a diet rich in fruits and nuts, vegetables, water, herbal teas along with balanced proteins, carbs and healthy fats is essential. If we add herbs like parsley, coriander, chives or spices like cloves, turmeric, cinnamon we increase the bioavailability of foods.

Q. How hard do sports personalities and film actors work on their diet plan?

A. I learn a lot from them. I believe they definitely have something in them that makes them where they are. They have the willpower, resilience, determination and they are mentally prepared to follow any regime. If I say I will give 100%, they put in 200% effort. Sometimes, travel, extra work hours interfere in following the plans but they have options and that’s the benefit of customised plans and being available on calls with them. Sometimes, we have to liaise with the chef, hotel staff, and managers. Sometimes, they are leaders in their field because of their hard work and they understand the role of food and how it impacts their performance on track and field or on screen.

Q. Which celebs have been trained with you?

A. I have worked with diverse clients from different ethnicities as I worked in Australia for a decade. I am lucky to have some clientele. I have worked with the under 19, Australian cricket, celebrity radio jockeys, actresses and beauty pageants winners like Simran Kaur Mundi. I have worked with diplomats from Indonesia, Australia, and some top bureaucrats of the country but I take pride in being the only dietitian who volunteered and worked in the President estate clinic.

Q. In COVID times, any special dietary tips which all can follow?

A. We are almost 3 years into COVID now and we have learnt the importance of a healthy lifestyle. A diet that is rich in plant foods will assist in weight loss, control diabetes, build immunity and reverse the ageing process. Pulses and lentils are rich in zinc, flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts have omega 3 which helps to reduce inflammation, citrus-like oranges, guava, amla have vitamin c and herbs and spices like turmeric, Ceylon cinnamon, ginger, tulsi benefits our lungs and jaggery and honey are excellent sugar substitutes in covid times. I urge people to use healthy oils like ghee, mustard oil, organic or cold-pressed groundnut oil and artisan oils for salads because eating the right fat is important for gut health and food absorption.

Q. Which food items are good to take during winters?

A. Winter produces such as citrus fruits and vegetables which have immunity-boosting properties. Oranges, pomelos, guava, amla have the richest vitamin c levels which help in boosting our immunity, along with this we have apples, strawberries, plums, pomegranate which have quercetin which repairs our cells. All green leafy vegetables are rich in iron, folate, calcium, vitamin b and fibre which have significant health benefits. Spices in particular Ceylon cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, tulsi, ginger, raw garlic keep our body warm and have health benefits. Nuts like walnuts, almonds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds should be consumed with jaggery.

Q. How to combat seasonal flu with Vitamin-C rich diet foods?

A. We have abundant Vitamin C. Rich foods like herbs and spices, fruits and vegetables to name a few. I suggest using amla, kokum, coriander, mint chutneys and garnish meals with coriander leaves, mint, dill, chives, and drink lemon water when waking up and in between meals. A fresh vegetable juice midday and snacking on 3 fresh fruits are also recommended.

(Celebrity Dietician and Nutritionist Swati Bathwal’s work focuses on preventative medicine. She is the only dietitian who volunteered and worked in the President estate clinic.)

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