A healthy diet can prevent cell damage to help the body to fight diseases. 

Having a balanced diet is important for everyone as it supports cells and the immune system. Remaining healthy and being less susceptible to disease is something to prioritise during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Dr Michael Madziva, who works in the Endocrinology & Metabolism Research Laboratory at  the Wits School of Physiology, told Wits Vuvuzela that, “Our immune system makes cells and antibodies that fight off infections. Proteins and energy are required to make these cells and antibodies, and as such elicit and maintain the immunological responses required to suppress infections.”

In order to support our immune systems, Dr Madziva suggested  that “A lot of diseases are caused by a dietary deficiency of nutrients that the body requires. Thus ingesting a balanced diet will prevent many of these nutritional disorders. That is, a diet with sufficient protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, minerals and water. Unprocessed foods of course!” 

In an American online health publication called Healthline, dietician, Kaitlyn Berkheiser, suggests the following diet to support the maintenance of  Glutathione, an antioxidant that reduces the risk of medical conditions including stroke and heart disease:

  • Sulfur rich foods – Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, poultry, beef and fish. 
  • Vitamin C rich foods – strawberries, citrus, papaya, kiwi and bell peppers. 
  • Allium vegetables – onions and garlic. 
  • Selenium rich foods – brown rice, organ meats, cottage cheese, eggs, Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds. 
  • Dietary glutathione – Avocado and spinach.
  • Curcumin – An active substance found in Turmeric which has an antioxidant property.

Although Dr Madziva cautions that his suggestions are only guidelines in reference to a regular healthy adult, “People are unique and generally speaking, there is no such thing as the “best” nutrition.”

He further added that when oxygen in biological solutions binds to electrons this may cause cellular damage and toxicity, “Antioxidants neutralise these reactive oxygen species to make the reactive oxygen species less harmful to the body.”

“Glutathione is a water-soluble antioxidant that is present in the body’s aqueous (water) compartments. Its function is to donate hydrogen atoms to reactive oxygen species such that the reactive oxygen species are converted from the toxic molecule, to harmless water (H20). The H would come from glutathione, whilst the O comes from the detoxified reactive oxygen species” Dr Madziva said. 

Berkheiser further suggested that, “The small airways of the lungs require glutathione to function properly. In fact, healthy lungs have up to 1,000 times more glutathione than other parts of the body”. This is important to note considering that Covid-19 affects the respiratory system. 

FEATURED IMAGE: A healthy meal prepared using broccoli, cottage cheese, baby spinach and bell peppers. Photo: Leah Wilson.