A Varied Natural Diet is the Key to Strengthening Our Defenses

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    “Strengthen your defenses with fresh, natural, varied and colorful food” is the motto of this year’s National Nutrition Week, which is celebrated in the country within the framework of Farmers Day.

    The Intersectoral Commission of Dietary Guidelines for Costa Rica (CIGA) coordinated by the Ministry of Health, is responsible for defining the theme, who also indicated that the key to strengthening defenses is in a varied, hygienic and natural diet.

    “A natural and varied diet  is the key to strengthen immunity and prevent diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and obesity, which are risk factors for increased morbidity and mortality from Covid-19,” explained CIGA in a document on the subject.

    It also indicated that adequate food and nutrition play a special role in the current Pandemic, especially in terms of preservation and strengthening of the immune system.

    Role of nutrition in our Body`s defenses

    The immune system is our natural defense that keeps us safe from viruses, bacteria, fungi and even altered cells in the body. Its functions include stopping or eliminating infectious organisms or foreign bodies that enter the body.

    According to the CIGA it has long been known that nutrition is closely associated with the functioning of our organic systems. “Nutritional deficiency can affect immunity, leading to decreased resistance to infection and, as a consequence, an increased burden of the disease,” says the document.

    Although there is no specific nutrient or food that helps prevent Coronavirus infection, poorly nourished people are at greater risk for viral and bacterial infections.

    How to maintain a good diet

    The first advice given by CIGA to maintain a healthy diet is to include varied, natural, fresh and nutritious foods from the different food groups, such as: fruits and vegetables; beans, lentils, chickpeas, cereals, dairy, eggs, low-fat meats, and white meats like chicken and fish.

    It then recommends consuming at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables of all colors: three of vegetables and two of fruits. “The more color and variety, the more benefits,” they noted.

    Consuming legumes daily also helps you stay healthy. Beans, chickpeas and lentils should be included in the daily menu, as well as cereals: rice, pasta, tortillas and bread, preferably whole. “A good combination of legume with cereal is rice and beans, which can be added sweet potato, yucca, potato, banana, among others,” said CIGA.

    Three servings a day of dairy is ideal, it can be a glass of milk, one of yogurt and a serving of cheese. Eating a moderate amount of meat and avoiding cold cuts will also help.

    As for salt, it is advisable to add only one teaspoon for every meal that is ingested per day. As well as it is recommended to avoid the consumption of products high in calories, fats, sodium and sugars, and to maintain adequate hydration, that is, six to eight glasses per day.

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