Food is very important for a healthy immune system to fight all types of infections, including the novel Coronavirus or COVID-19. What are the nutrients needed to keep us nourished? A balance of the Macro nutrients such as Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats plus the Micronutrients such as Minerals and Vitamins are important to include in our daily meals. Water is also important.
The Pinggang Pinoy developed by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute under the Department of Science and Technology will help us visualize the appearance of a healthy diet.
In addition, we have specific immune boosters that are found in various food items especially in our fruits, vegetables, and protein-rich foods such as meats, chickens, fish and other seafoods and milk.
Two glasses of milk each day, one for breakfast and the other glass before bedtime, are essential. To make the milk more exciting for your children to drink, add fruits to the milk or make a fruit milk shake. Fruits such as strawberries, melons, papayas, apple, pineapple, oranges, watermelon, kiwi and mangoes may be added alternately.
With fruits added to the milk, one will get Vitamins A, C, folate, potassium, fiber and water. Fibrous fruits eaten in slices rather than taken in juice form will benefit children who are constipated, in addition to being an immune booster. Examples of these fruits include ripe pineapple, oranges, pomelos, grapefruit, ripe mangoes, papayas and even ripe or semi-ripe guavas.
Button mushrooms also boost the immune system. These are rich in Selenium, and the B vitamins like Riboflavin and Niacin. Green leafy vegetables like malunggay, kangkong, broccoli, camote tops, lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes and green peppers are good sources of Vitamins A and C.
If your children do not like to eat vegetables, prepare the vegetables in a more appetizing way. One example is vegetable lumpia. For lumpia shanghai and spaghetti meat sauce, add grated carrots, and shredded cabbage, add also shredded veggies to macaroni chicken sopas, embotido, meat loaf and burgers.
So to promote immunity, follow an eating plan that is varied and healthy in accordance with sanitation and food safety standards with Pinggang Pinoy as our reference for a healthy immune system. Eat snacks in addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Before eating, always remember to wash hands properly with soap and water.
About The Expert
NIEVES C. SERRA, Nutritionist-Dietitian
Ms. Nieves Serra, a registered Dietitian, took up AB major in Nutrition and minor in Home Culture in St. Scholastica’s College (SSC) Manila in 1960. After her graduation in 1964, she took up the ten months Dietetic Internship program at FEU Hospital. She was the only one in her batch at SSC who took the Board Exam, passed it and practiced in the country. She took up M.S. Foods and Nutrition and MBA without thesis from Philippine Women’s University, Manila.
Her career has been devoted to hospital work in the Dietary department of private and government hospitals for a span of 46 years, and 41 years teaching nursing, HRM and nutrition students. She was also a cafeteria concessionaire for 6 years in various industrial companies, a lecturer/speaker in seminars and conventions and a member of various associations such as PASOO, and PHILSPEN.
In 1992, she was awarded the Outstanding Nutritionist-Dietitian of the year by Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC), and was a past president of Nutritionist-Dietitians’ Association of the Philippines or NDAP (1988), NDAP Life member (2007 to 2011), and held various positions from 1966 to the present. She is married to her profession, a devout Catholic, and follows the Benedictine motto of her school, St. Scholastica’s College, “Ora et Labora, which means work and pray being a loyal Scholastican and a loyal NDAP member.