‘Drink plenty of fluids and protein’ for strong immunity in Ramadan

Prof. Dr. Günnur Deniz, Director of Istanbul University (IU) Aziz Sancar Experimental Medicine Research Institute (DETAE) and Head of the Department of Immunology, evaluated the nutritional recommendations to be considered during iftar and sahur in order to protect the strong immune system, which has become increasingly important during the epidemic process to protect against the new type of coronavirus (Covid-19), in Ramadan.

Explaining that the factors that disrupt the immune system can be summarized as irregular and malnutrition, stress, insomnia, radiation, air pollution, smoking or tobacco use, some drugs and genetic factors, Deniz said that different diseases occur as a result of excessive, deficient or faulty functioning of the immune system.

Prof. Dr. Deniz emphasized that it is of great importance to have a strong immune system in order to protect against viral diseases or to overcome the course of the disease in the mildest way and said:

“There are many factors that positively affect the immune system, which acts as a protective shield against viruses. One of the most important factors that strengthen the immune system is a balanced diet. Inadequate nutrition impairs the immune system, suppresses its functions and increases the risk of infection. Excessive nutrition, such as a limited or one-sided diet, also negatively affects the immune system. Continuous limited nutrition has been shown to increase the severity of influenza infection in humans and the incidence of infection in obese individuals.”

“Eating 8 hours apart and not eating for 16 hours positively affects immunity”

Reminding that Ramadan has started, Deniz said, “Although there is no study showing that fasting strengthens immunity, some changes in diet have been shown to strengthen the immunity of intermittent nutrition. For example, eating only 8 hours during the day and not eating for 16 hours has been shown to have positive effects on the immune system as it ensures the correct functioning of intracellular sensors called ‘mTOR’, and intermittent fasting practices have been shown to reduce inflammation and especially the negative effects on the vascular system.”

Stating that nutrition is the most important factor to be considered, Deniz stated that the body needs different nutrients grouped as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water.

“Eat a balanced and correct diet at iftar and sahur”

Prof. Dr. Deniz pointed out that while fasting, it is necessary to avoid eating too much at iftar and fasting without getting up for sahur and made the following suggestions:

“It is of great importance to eat a balanced and correct diet and consume plenty of fluids and liquid foods during iftar and sahur. Proteins are one of the nutrients necessary for the body to maintain its basic functions. For this reason, protein should be taken but carbohydrates, fatty and sugary foods, refined foods with additives should be avoided. Eating fresh and seasonal vegetables, protein foods and fruits at iftar has a positive effect on the immune system. In general, for a healthy diet, plenty of water should be consumed, fermented foods such as fiber-rich yogurt should be consumed, and home-made ones should be preferred if possible. Intestinal flora is another way to strengthen immunity. Probiotics (fermented foods) are known to make the intestinal flora healthier.”

“Pay attention to your sleep patterns while fasting”

Stressing the importance of paying attention to sleep patterns while fasting and not creating stress on the body in terms of immunity, Deniz continued as follows:

“Regular sleep is one of the main ways to keep the immune system strong. It is important to sleep at night when melatonin levels secreted during sleep are the highest. Melatonin is reported to positively affect the immune system against cancer, reduce depression and stress, increase life expectancy and reduce signs of aging. It has been shown that people who sleep less than 6 hours a day are 4.2 times more likely to catch a cold than people who sleep more than 7 hours a day, and this risk increases in people who sleep less than 5 hours a day.”

Prof. Dr. Deniz stated that in addition to all these, the effects of being positive, loving nature, people and animals on the immune system should not be forgotten.

“People with chronic diseases should not disrupt their vaccination and medication regimen”

Stating that fasting is obligatory for healthy people, Deniz said, “Those with chronic diseases (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart, immune deficiency, cancer), those who are too old to fast, pregnant or breastfeeding women, health workers who are concerned about the disruption of both their health and health services if they fast, those who work in heavy labor, those who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and are deemed unfavorable by their doctor should not fast. In addition, cancer patients, those who constantly use medication (steroids) due to chronic diseases or immunodeficient individuals should not disrupt their vaccination and medication regimens.”

Prof. Dr. Deniz underlined that it is important to avoid collective iftar meals during Ramadan to maintain social distance, not to give iftar invitations at home and not to go to invitations to protect against the coronavirus epidemic.

Source: https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/ramazan-2020/ramazanda-guclu-bir-bagisiklik-icin-bol-sivi-ve-protein-tuketin-onerisi/1819664

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