The COVID19 pandemic as today has infected about 400,000 and has killed more than 20,000 people, with the numbers rapidly increasing with new cases being reported from different territories. According to the World Heart Federation, “non-communicable diseases (NCD), specifically chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes are major risk factors for developing severe symptoms of COVID-19.” This is corroborated by a recent study from China, which reports higher prevalence in patients with hypertension (30%), diabetes (19%), and coronary heart disease (8%).
To begin with, NCDs are today the world’s biggest killers, leading to 71% of all deaths in 2018 a total of 42 million deaths per year globally. NCD is a habitual/behavioural disease stemming from unhealthy lifestyle whereby physical inactivity is one of the biggest threat. Strong evidence shows that physical inactivity increases the risk of many adverse health conditions, including the world’s major non-communicable diseases (NCDs) of coronary heart disease (CHD), type 2 diabetes, and breast and colon cancers, and shortens life expectancy. Because much of the world’s population is inactive, this presents a major public health problem.
Physical activity (PA) is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure. According to the WHO guidelines (2010), an adult aged 18 to 64 years should perform at least 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity aerobic PA, or 75 min/week of vigorous-intensity aerobic PA, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity PA. In Malaysia there are 36.9% physically inactive adults. The level of inactivity was higher in females compared to males (50.0% vs 24.7%).
COVID-19 is highly infectious, unlike the seasonal flu (which some are prone to compare it to). The virus affects persons with a compromised/weakened immune system. An unhealthy lifestyle has been a risk factor to the development of NCDs and associated comorbidities, and calorie deficits are known to weaken the immune system. A viral disease like COVID- 19 can spread fast, undetected and kill already immunocompromised populations – like the elderly, and those with chronic non-communicable disease.
Another important factor to note is that coronavirus does not affect all ages equally. A study by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention concludes that older people with pre-existing health conditions are more prone to getting affected by coronavirus. In Malaysia, more than 70% of the overall deaths by COVID19 has co-morbidities of NCDs. The risk to COVID-19 is higher in people with weak immune defences and can further be compromised in chronic conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes. Adding to the burden can be emotional stress, lack of sleep and physical exhaustion, which can further make one prone to diseases by weakening immunity.
Maintaining a healthy diet with food that boost immunity can help fight infections. Physical activity and nutrition have known to boost the immune system. Foods rich in Vitamin C, D, and E improve the immune system by increasing the infection-fighting cells. The antioxidant in Vitamin C & E plays an important role in controlling infections and functioning of the immune system. Increasing the consumption of citrus fruits, bell peppers, garlic, ginger, spinach, yogurt, almond, turmeric, papaya in one’s daily diet can help strengthen immunity to fight infections. Also keeping the body hydrated and adequate sleep to increase protein associated with infection and inflammation can help in curtailing the disease.
Source: Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, February 2020
It is important to keep in mind, however, that what works in combating COVID-19 itself is yet unknown. “Your immune system is (the) best weapon against coronavirus,” as said by a Turkish scholar. Strengthening the immune system with healthy nutrition and exercising with a low to moderate intensity may help equip people with a defense mechanism against viruses.
根据世界心脏联合会（World Heart Federation）的说法，非传染性疾病（NCD），特别是慢性阻塞性肺疾病，心脏病，高血压和糖尿病是产生COVID-19严重症状的主要危险因素。
用能增强免疫力的食物维持健康的饮食可以帮助抵抗感染。 众所周知，运动和营养可以增强免疫系统。 富含维生素C、D和E的食物可通过增加抵抗感染的细胞来改善免疫系统
维生素C和E中的抗氧化剂在控制感染和免疫系统功能中起着重要作用， 在日常饮食中增加柑橘类水果、甜椒、大蒜、生姜、菠菜、酸奶、杏仁、姜黄和木瓜的摄入量可以帮助增强抵抗感染的免疫力。 同样，保持身体水分充足、充足的睡眠可以增加蛋白质，以帮助减少疾病。