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# Pooja Makhija

Amidst all the chaos caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, there seems to be hope with the recently improved recovery rates and the developments on the vaccine being prepared to tackle coronavirus. Although there are precautions in place, Nepal continues to battle with a spike in the coronavirus cases each day.

This pandemic has only heightened the awareness of being prepared to tackle the health risks associated with contracting the virus, which is important especially when certain reports have presented the possibility of several deadly bacteria being released due to climate change (Source: Weforum). What’s more alarming is that these reports claimed that humans no longer have the immunity or the antibiotics to fight the ancient bacteria.

So, the real question to ask today is, how prepared are we to tackle such health scares?

A strong immune system defines the body’s capability to fight against foreign organisms/abnormal cells/substances that have the power to cause detriment to us. The immune system is an entire network of cells and tissues that together function in order to protect us from any damage caused by external bacteria or viruses. When our body is exposed to a substance or antigen the immune system releases antibodies to prevent any ill effect caused by the antigen. Without these antibodies which are also known as immunoglobulins, our body cannot fight an invasion by these so-called intruders. And as complicated all these scientific terms would sound, it isn’t.

Protein is the key factor in the formation of antibodies. All of you may have heard that amino acids are the building blocks of proteins but, the essential amino acids cannot be synthesized in the body therefore, have to be supplied by our diet. If our diets lack the adequate amounts of dietary proteins the amino acids required for producing antibodies will also be less. Immune system cannot be strengthened in a day, it is an ongoing process. And protein is a major contributor towards building and boosting immune system.

Only few take in to account the role that a strong immunity plays during such times. This is important for a country like Nepal where protein deficiency is estimated to be nearly 43% as per a 2005 survey (source).  The very first immediate cause of nutritional deficiency is inadequate dietary intake in terms of quality and quantity. The Nepalese diet usually consists of chiefly carbohydrates but not enough protein and other micronutrients.

The good news is that no one would need to scour around to hunt for high protein sources, since they are easily available, come in variety for all kinds of food preferences, vegetarian and non-vegetarian, and are affordable. Pulses such as mung beans, kidney beans, soyabeans, chickpeas and black beans contain high amounts of protein. Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, peanuts, etc. also are good sources of protein. Meat and seafood such as chicken, mutton, pomfret, mackerel, etc. all of these foods are rich in protein. Coupled with several other nutritious foods, one must remember to consume adequate protein, at least 25% of the plate in every meal. Here is a publicly available protein-rich food guide that can assist people to include protein rich foods in their daily diets.

The immune system keeps our bodies healthy and safe against health risks and proper nutrition is a crucial factor of a good immunity response system. If the body does not have enough building blocks, there is likely to be a significant impairment of immunity. Protein is a determinant of an individual’s nutrition and immune response, so in times like these, eating protein-rich food has become the utmost priority, boosting immune system and giving people the people of Nepal the best chance to fight deadly viruses like Covid-19.

Who is Pooja Makhija?

Nutritionist to Bollywood celebrities, Pooja Makhija in her fifteen years of practice, transformed the bodies – and the lives – of over twenty-five thousand people and made planet earth more than a 125,000 kilos lighter. Her clientele includes people from all walks of life – models, actors, socialites, CEOs, ace yoga instructors, personal trainers, producers, directors, singers, pilots, architects, builders, media professionals and housewives.

Apart from being a celebrity nutritionist, Pooja is also a bestselling author, a television star, an entrepreneur and, above all, a devoted mother of two. She works from her clinic Nourish in Mumbai and has both an MSc in Food Science and Nutrition and a BSc in Dietetics from Mumbai. A vocal and passionate believer in the power of food, Pooja’s mission is to help you fall in love with food. To that end, she is on a journey to ‘fooducate’ the world and help rebuild people’s faith in the power of nutrition.

Pooja Makhija offers solutions for metabolic disorders such as diabetes, thyroid, hypertension and heart disease.

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