Celebrity wellness expert, Dr. Vishakha Shivdasani on do’s and don’ts of immunity boosting in times of quarantine

by Drishti Mistry

A Bombay-based medical doctor and an award-winning nutritionist, Dr. Vishakha Shivdasani specializes in weight management and chronic lifestyle diseases. Popularly recognized by her insta handle @doctorvee, Shivdasani’s enviable client roster boasts of celebrity names both yesteryear and millennial along with a long list of international clients to add to her repertoire. She is known to blend medicine and lifestyle practices to achieve unique health solutions to everything from weight reduction to the reversal of type 2 diabetes. Considering the current outbreak of COVID-19, we thought of reaching out to her and finding out the etiquettes of immunity boosting in times of quarantine. Here’s what she had to share…

According to you, what are the contents of an immunity boosting diet plan?

A good amount of quality protein is a must to fight any pathogen, be it a bacteria or a virus. We need antibodies to fight an infection and it’s important to remember that antibodies are nothing but protein. So, inadequate protein is equal to inadequate formation of antibodies – it is as simple as that. Also make sure to include all the good fats such as nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, coconut, ghee etc in your diet. My constant advice to my clients has been ‘Don’t fear your fats’. They are essential for increasing cell permeability and flexibility which means not only do they aid the immune cells to gobble up pathogens like bacteria and virus but they also help in absorbing essential fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E and K. Consume a hearty portion of eggs and legumes to include Zinc in your diet which is essential in fighting viruses and bacteria. Lastly, add a decadent dose of lemons and gooseberries (amla) into your diet for that extra vitamin C.

What does an ideal indoors fitness routine look like?

In addition to releasing happy hormones and endorphins, exercise contributes largely towards building immunity. However going overboard with it may actually backfire and lower your immunity, so striking the right balance is the key. That said, there is no such thing as an ideal fitness routine, because everyone has different needs based on the fitness level and age but the point I would like to make is, just make sure you are moving and doing both a bit of cardio and a bit of functional (u can use your own body weight) on the daily. More importantly, in times like these, I strongly recommend everyone at least ten minutes of yoga specifically to enhance lung functioning through breathing practices like prananayama.

What are some of the additional measures one can take to boost one’s immunity?

Ensure to add supplements to your diet. For instance, vitamin C is important for phagocytosis, ie engulfing the viruses and bacteria. However since it must compete with glucose to enter into white cells, it is advisable to minimize your sugar intake. The recommended dose of vitamin C is 1000 mg to be split into two doses, one for the day and other for the night. You could also look at Zinc supplements for added protection. Omega-3 is yet another powerful anti inflammatory vitamin that should be taken in a supplement form. Lastly, as difficult as it may seem, get some sun to get vitamin D! Although it is called a vitamin, it’s actually a hormone and an immune modulator. Unfortunately most of us Indians are very low in Vitamin D, so a necessary dose of this supplement is recommended to correct the deficiency.

What are some practices and foods to steer clear of for better immunity?

Stay away from refined foods and sugars as far as possible – anything that comes out of a tin, can and bottle must be avoided. Remember that sugar is the single
most inflammatory food group and the need of the hour is to keep inflammation as low as possible because it adversely affects the immunity. Avoid juices, candies, white bread and mindless eating of processed chips and biscuits that cause sugar spikes. Stick with complex carbohydrates like whole fruits, whole grains and vegetables which are natural sources of fibres and nutrients needed to maintain a healthy body.

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