With the deadly coronavirus sweeping across continents and affecting many millions, health authorities, experts, researchers around the world are racing to invent ways to contain the further spread of the virus. Considering the unique history of the coronavirus, it is still believed that our food choices may hold critical importance, as the world population increases to record levels in the next few years.
The coronavirus does present many uncertainties, while none of us can eliminate the greater risks of ending up being infected with it. But what we can definitely stick by is to eat as healthily as possible. The Bridge caught up with one of the country’s most celebrated sports nutritionists, Pooja Udeshi to reflect upon the importance of nutrition and athletic performance amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Effective diet and nutrition are an important part of an athlete’s training. A sportsman’s valued qualities like strength, agility, endurance, and vigilance are the result of his nutrition-rich diet regimen most often recommended.
Vinesh Phogat during a bout | Source: WeForum.org
The virus’s highly infectious nature suggests there is a pressing need to find corresponding solutions, but could nutrition help the immune system fight off coronavirus? I ask Pooja. “Not everyone detected with the virus is dying. So, immunity is somewhere playing a major role. We’ve to ensure that the immunity of athletes is strong because high performance will affect it. Citrus fruits, anti-inflammatory fruits, and food with anti-oxidant and anti-infection properties will be included in their diet,” she explains.
A healthy life demands proper nutrition as well as regular exercise. Both are key to the prevention of diseases and also help improve overall mental and physical health. Exercise is the physical exertion of the body, while proper nutrition is one that contains all food values in the right amount.
Without exercise and the right nutrition, it is believed that one’s body becomes more prone to disease, infection, fatigue, and poor performance. But with outdoor training clearly taking a toll on athletes’ physical health, could nutrition alone help keep them fit? “Athletes are staying at home, with their outdoor physical activities being compromised. Most importantly, they should ensure there is proper hygiene. The food should be rich in protein, with a moderate amount of carbohydrate and fibre. They should stay away from any kind of junk food."
P V Sindhu after winning World Championship gold | Source: The Quint
The coronavirus knows no boundaries. With such a rapidly developing situation, some of us have met the challenges right from the beginning of the outbreak while a lot more are presently joining to address the issues. But immunity cannot alone fight off the virus, says Pooja. Staying hydrated and maintaining proper hygiene is important to help protect one against the infection.
Energy drinks can be most effective when an athlete is training hard and needs an extra boost for a tough session. When used in the right context, consuming energy drinks, as Pooja says, in moderation as part of a balanced diet can have advantages. As an athlete or someone focussed on increasing fitness levels and endurance, one can gain benefits from the carb content of energy drinks.
“There are a lot of options available in the market, some come with zero calories, and significantly, the caffeine consumption is also mentioned. Caffeine is going to help athletes stimulate and improve their concentration and create alertness. One such example of this would be the Red Bull energy drinks that come with various options,” she signs off.
But having said that, athletes must not forget the heightened significance of what they are consuming or how their food is being processed, regardless of what impact might have been caused since the outbreak of the virus. It is a firm belief that by upholding our core values of being active in the search of new knowledge, we can certainly tackle this global challenge together.