The year that was worth forgetting but with resolutions to remember the lessons learnt, what the  COVID pandemic has taught us. While all of us, if rewind events like a cassette film, we would shiver and sometimes even laugh at moments we lived in like complete lockdown, the plate saucer banging, lighting diyas, year of  Bollywood drugs shemozzle, Mahabharata & Ramayana rescreening, corona warriors fighting every days war, Rishi Kapoor, Sushant Singh & Irrfan Khan leaving the portals forever, Ads of Dream Eleven Team, Kamala & Biden taking over the world order, Ladakh crisis for the armed forces & the nation, Mirzapur, Delhi Crime & other OTR shows, Lucky Ali’s rejuvenating songs and many such flickers etc. & etc. But the most negative word of 2020 remained ‘POSITIVE’, COVID Positive.

Most importantly, this year has taken a toll on all those who had some health issues or comorbidities and they left us for the heavenly abode like Pranab Mukherjee, Tarun Gogoi, Amar Singh,  Ram Vilas Paswan, Diego Maradona, S P Balasubramanian, Sean Connery, Saroj Khan, Pt Jasraj, Wajid Khan, Basu Chatterjee, Bejan Daruwala, Alison Lurie, John le Carre, Jagdeep and many more. The prima facie revelations emerge with one thing that year 2020 taught us to revive, rebuild & reinvigorate our IMMUNITY.

So, let’s take a dive into the immunity zest ,What is immunity???  Immunity is our body’s ability to fight the unwanted foreign elements disrupting its living system by utilizing three distinct layers, depending on the nature of the threat: Physical (e.g. skin, epithelial lining of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts); Biochemical barriers (e.g. secretions, mucus and gastric acid) numerous different immune cells (e.g. granulocytes, CD4 or CD8, T & B cells) and Antibodies (i.e. immunoglobins). 

 Immunity can either be ‘Innate ‘ or ‘Adaptive’. Innate Immunity is something which we are born with  and combine with physical and biochemical barriers with a non-specific, leukocyte-mediated cellular response to fight against pathogens; they kill the germs & forget without transferring the information to other parts/ system.

The other one is ‘Adaptive’, If the pathogens manage to avoid these innate defences, a more complex, adaptive, antigen-specific response is triggered, mediated by T & B lymphocytes, which produce antibodies to target and destroy the pathogens. Our body remembers this foreign hostile antigen…tries to fight with it ( generally takes 14 days) and makes antibodies. Then memorises the antigen’s characteristics and fights with it relentlessly. In the world of Nutrition, Healthcare & Medical Sciences, we have to work hard on this Adaptive Immunity. This can be acquired with Good Nutrition, Stressless Life Style and  Preventive prophylactic Care.

Even during this pandemic, a person infected with COVID, unless with severe complexities was advised to take rest, quarantine himself and improve immunity through vitamining and other prescribed supplements. Those who were aloof from the infections tried hard to do every bit to surge their immunity factor.

With the vaccine for the COVID in light &  almost ready to be injected soon; many of us have even reservation towards being injected. Still the forum of uncertainty is there and we will not be able to completely eliminate the risk of getting infected. But the positive aspect is that even researches have shown that improving immunity with nutrition will make a difference. 

We must include micro nutrients (vitamins & minerals) which support the immune system of our body such as Vit A, B, C, D, E & other minerals like Selenium, Iron and Zinc. How these support structures will help reviving our immunity, let’s discuss.

Vit A – It helps in making antibodies which neutralises the pathogens that cause infection. These antibodies fight with the infections as a team. Various respiratory infections like COVID can be fought by maintaining the cell structure of skin, respiratory tract and the gut. Foods like dairy products, egg yolk, liver, nuts, whole grains, fatty fishes, fruits like mango, papaya and even vegetables like carrot, broccoli, pumpkin etc (contain B-carotene which our body converts to vitamin A) help in taking Vit A . 

Vit B – It acts like sentries and conduct the activities of natural killer cells and implode the infected cells in the body. Vit B responds once our body has recognised any pathogen. The important immunity booster Vit B are B6, B9(folate) & B12. We can find plenty of B6 in wheat germ, Green leafy vegetable, peanut, soyabean, pork oat, banana, fish & meat, also B9 or folate in whole grain, liver, sea food, liver, sunflower seeds, beans, peanut, green leafy vegetables and legumes & B12 in meat, fish, milk, poultry, eggs and cheese.

Vit C – This is one of the most important immunity boosters as it stops the inflammation caused by the oxidative stress leading to infection carrying free radicals. It mounts up the immune response. It cleans the infected body system. Citrus fruits (oranges, lime, lemons, kiwi, guava), Tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, broccoli are some of the great sources of Vit C. Even Vit C supplements are there in plenty in the market.

Vit D – Our body immune cells carve for Vit D  to destroy pathogens that causes infections. Outdoor exposure (sun) is one of its important sources; Other food sources are milk variants, egg yolk, fatty fish ( salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel), liver and red meat. Even Vit D supplements are there in the market; It is a must for a person who is Vit D deficient. A person with such deficiency has trouble fighting against acute respiratory infections.

Vit E – It works something akin to Vit C as it also protects the cell walls from the pathogens. Important source of Vit E are wheat germ oil, Green Leafy Vegetables, vegetable Oils ( sunflower, safflower, soyabean), peanuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, pumpkin and red bell pepper.

Zinc – The immunity cell grows with Zinc and is instrumental in killing the pathogens. It also helps regulating our enzymes to recognise the pathogens. Zinc supplements are generally antioxidants, they clean the damage caused by the pathogens. It is found in whole grains, legumes, shellfish, seeds, nuts, dairy products, eggs and meat.

Iron  – It plays crucial role in immune cells proliferation and maturation, particularly lymphocytes, associated with the generation of a specific response to infection. It is found in liver (but avoid during pregnancy), red meat, beans, dried fruits (apricot, dates) and soyabean.

Selenium –  It is a nutrient that the body needs to stay healthy. It protects the body from damage caused by free radicals and infections. It is found in Brazil nut, meat, ham, pork, beef, turkey, seeds, nuts, dairy products and eggs.

There are ways and means, far too many;  to reinvigorate our immune system. These micronutrients help in building strong bunker type defences to fight the foreign elements and these defences are never complete; it’s an ongoing process which requires continuous effort with our age. Let’s our herd make a resolve to be adaptive to the world of antigens, and boost our immunity ; as  this Corona may go….but are we sure that other symmetrical or more dangerous strains will not evolve?