By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao 

Health has become a pressing issue over the past few months due to surge in COVID-19 cases. The public has been doing what they can to keep from contracting the virus such as wearing face masks, face shields, drinking vitamins, as well as eating healthily to boost their immune systems.

According to Arleen Joy Vallejo, a medical doctor at the Antique Medical Center and a Diplomate of the Philippine College of Lifestyle Medicine, boosting one’s immune system is ideal especially for those who have non-communicable diseases (NCDs), like diabetes, since they are more prone to the virus. 

“We have to strengthen our immune systems to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. This way, we have a chance against the disease and we won’t just be sitting around waiting for a vaccine which we have yet to acquire and discover its effects,” she said during the livestream of AgriTalk 2020 aired by Agricultural Training Institute-Region VI in partnership with Agriculture magazine and Manila Bulletin.

She said that to lower the chances of contracting COVID-19 is by eating non-inflammatory food. A non-inflammatory diet helps reduce chronic inflammation  which is a key risk factor in health problems and several major diseases because it impedes the body’s ability to restore itself. 

Non-inflammatory food includes tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, and fruits among others.

In order to keep better track of this diet, the doctor suggests eating a rainbow everyday. This means consuming a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables. The colors have their specific functions and nutrients that strengthen the body. 

Red colored food like tomatoes, watermelon, or apples is a good source of lycopene and can help lower the risk of prostate cancer among men. 

Carrots, yams, and pumpkins, on the other hand, possess beta-carotene which is evident in their orange hue. In the body, this converts into vitamin A for good eye health, and a strong immune system. 

Yellow or yellow-orange food like oranges, lemons, bananas, papayas, and peaches can also improve the immune system since these are a good source of vitamin C. 

The superior food to eat for a healthy lifestyle are the ones that are green. This includes broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, kale, and most of the green leafy vegetables. These help build healthy cells and genetic material. Garlic and onion also provide the same health benefits. 

Lastly, blue to purple colored food like eggplants and grapes can help destroy free radicals, (by-products of ongoing biochemical reactions in the body) and lower estrogen levels which could cause fatigue, blood clots, and stroke. 

“Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily to get more nutrients to help strengthen your body and boost the immune system. Let us depend on the real and healthy options when it comes to our body,” Vallejo said. 

Other ways to live healthily can be done by avoiding substances such as alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes, getting an optimum amount of sleep, de-stressing to avoid anxiety, and, of course, eating the right food. 

The doctor also said that it’s important to steer clear of processed foods, meat, sugar, and high-cholesterol food which could produce more free radicals in the body and produce negative effects as well. 

“If you’re worried about the protein content, there are vegetables that contain more protein than meat. Examples of these are broccoli and spinach. So even without meat, you can get protein along with other nutrients from a plant-based diet,” she said. 

Vallejo added that if the steps are properly adhered to, COVID-19 won’t be the only disease that could be combatted since the approach also applies to NCDs.  

Watch the full video of the AgriTalk 2020 webinar here