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As at May 21, globally 5,209,860 were COVID-19 positive, 2,092,757 had recovered while 334,878 persons were pronounced dead. In Africa, there were 101,684 positive cases, 40,588people have recovered with 3,115 deaths. Nigeria has 7,016 positive cases, 1,907 had recovered while 211 people have died of the virus. One major precaution that is often repeated in campaigns against the virus is the need to be hygiene conscious, reason citizens were told to regularly wash or sanitise their hands aside maintaining social distance and wearing facemasks.

But is there a place for good diet and nutrition in the management of COVID-19 spread and treatment according to experts. They have argued that malnutrition severely weakens immunity, increasing people’s chances of getting ill, staying ill, and dying because of illness

President, Federation of African Nutrition Societies and the immediate past President, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Professor Ngozi Nnam stated that though diet is not a risk factor in contracting Coronavirus, diet can help in curbing it, as it plays a significant role in helping individual’s recovery process.

According to her, healthy diet is very important at this time, because consuming diet rich in food nutrients will boost the immunity. “COVID-19 is a virus, with no vaccine to treat it at present, so we are relying on body immunity to fight and kill it. Some people after testing positive will receive care and days after, they will test negative, it is because their body immunity is high. Yet, some people that went to the isolation centre with them will still be receiving treatment, ten days after they are still positive.

“The treatment they are getting is not for the virus, the treatment is to take care of the manifestations, as a result of the virus attacking the body system. So, the virus would be suppressed, if the individual’s immune system is high, because the individual has the ability to fight back the virus.

“The implication is that we should be taking adequate diet rich in nutrients that can help boost our immune system. And such nutrients are Vitamin A, B complex, D and E, because vitamins are good at boosting the immune system. And the foods that are rich in these vitamins are within reach. We have fruits and vegetable, which are often neglected in meals. So, at this time, we need to take a lot of fruits and vegetable, including avocado peer. Then, the normal legumes and cereals; all help us to grow well; rice, beans, yam very important with vegetable.”

The nutritionist, nonetheless, said Nigerians should not wrongly believe that with high immune system, they cannot contract Coronavirus, good nutrition only helps to weaken the virus when it enters the body, as the high immune system will suppress and not allow it to thrive.

The professor of nutrition noted that taking unhealthy diet would lead to malnutrition, which makes the body immunity to be very low, and if such a person gets infected with COVID-19, the virus will continue to thrive and multiply in the body system, with the system unable to fight and kill it.

“And the likelihood of recovery will be longer, and the person is likely to develop complications as a result of COVID-19. The numbers that are being announced is not the actual number of people that are infected with COVID-19, the number is much higher, because many people are infected without knowing, their immune system is suppressing it and there will be no manifestation of symptoms sometimes till they recover. Some may even have mild manifestation, but because they are not very sure they have it, they do not call the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) officials, yet they will recover, because their immune system has suppressed the virus, so that is the place of nutrition.

“Mind you, we have avenues for all these nutrients, like vitamin D, just coming out during the early morning sun, the skin will synthesize enough Vitamin D from the sunlight. You don’t need money for that, just stay in the sun during mid-day for 30 minutes.”

Nnam said as the country continues to battle the pandemic, it is important government and all stakeholders step up nutrition advice to get people informed about healthy eating.

She noted that some Nigerians do not feed well, not necessarily because they do not have money to buy food to feed well, but because they are not well informed. “They do not buy food that they can combined for adequate diet. Some will buy expensive food, thinking it will give adequate diet; it might not necessarily be, so people need to be informed.

“Some people say it might be difficult for the poor to eat adequate diet, no, because not all nutritious foods are expensive. The rains are here; vegetables are cheaper in the market now. And some of the foods are still within the reach of the poor because most of the locally available foods are rich in these nutrients; the protein foods- beans and crayfish are good components,” Nnam said.

Dr Patience Ikeme Ogbuli, a nutritionist, said “By healthy nutrition, we mean adequate consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, protein of high biological value, and reasonable daily calorie, less consumptions of sweet foods and beverages, and adequate intake of water daily.  Safe and healthy practices that will help build immune health include limited alcohol and tobacco consumption, possibly total cut off tobacco, daily exercises, adequate sleep and less stressful lifestyle.

“It is rather unfortunate that it took COVID-19 pandemic to expose the poor immune health of Nigerians. The majority of Nigerians due to insufficient finances, power failure, excessively long working hours, and lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables depend on vendor and street foods for daily subsistence. Indomie, bread, high carbohydrate foods and snack, and sugary beverages, and low protein foods are the mainstay nutrition in Nigeria. It cannot be a mistake that hunger, malnutrition and poor unhygienic environments will kill many Nigerians before COVID-19 may find them to finish the job.

“It behooves the stakeholders of our nation to consider the pandemic of hunger, starvation, and filthy environment and attack it more aggressively than the pandemic of COVID-19. The former has killed and will continue to kill more Nigerians than COVID-19.”

On availability of advice on nutrition advice, Ogbuli said advice would make sense if the people have good chance of adhering to the advice. Rather, she said government should improve food supply and make them affordable. “We have enough people in the nation to do the job of nutrition education. It takes job restoration, improvement in job creation, and improved wages to begin to heal the nation.” She said that it is the responsibility of all stakeholders to change the picture of the pathetic nutritional status of many Nigerians, not just that of government alone.

On her part, a Clinical Nutritionist, Funmilola Wunmi Ijiwola stated that healthy food doesn’t necessarily mean expensive, as the key point in achieving healthy diet is knowing the right quantity and quality of nutrients to be included in a meal. She advised Nigerians to eat seasonal foods, which are cheaper. “Beans with sweet potato and grated crayfish cooked with palm oil makes an adequate diet. Also, eating avocado pear with bread and vegetable, which is now in season, are rich in fatty acid and protein. Using fruits in season as snacks also contributes to healthy eating and good health status.”

She noted that malnutrition causes a general imbalance of nutrient composition in the body, it’s either low nutrient, which is deficiency or too much nutrient, which is excess. “If their is an imbalance, the body doesn’t function well and the malfunction will eventually lead to symptoms that can be corrected with adequate diet or lead to a permanent damage of some organs or system in the body.”

Ijiwola also implored government to step up advocacy for good nutrition, because food is the first ‘drugs’ to make the body function well and ensure good health. “If our food intake is taken care of, there won’t be need for treatment of disease conditions. Good nutrition is the perfect description of prevention is better than cure”

Dr Abimbola Odusote, also a nutritionist stated that a virus as COVID-19 attacks the body and the body fights back to overcome it, so if the body is not healthy and the immunity is not strong, the virus would overwhelm the person.

“A person can build his immune system through what he feeds his body. It cam also be through rest, reduction of stress, adequate exercise, sunlight and fresh air. This is the time to up our micronutrients, eat lots of fruits, vegetables and remove the junk foods. Those giving out palliatives should consider what are in the packs- are they packaged processed foods? Why not consider adding fresh fruits and vegetables to the packs? We have lots of fruits rotting away that can be put to good use.”

Odusote said it is important that people learn what foods to buy with little money, which is why nutrition advice at this time is important.

Asthma makes people’s airways hyperreactive, causing them to get smaller and often resulting in difficulty breathing. While it is not always possible to prevent asthma, people can try to avoid risk factors such as smoking, being overweight, and having prolonged exposure to air pollution.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)asthma is responsible for around 10 deaths per day in the United States.

Although asthma affects both children and adults, adults are four times as likely to die from asthma-related complications than young people.

So, preventing asthma symptoms whenever possible is vital. The following are some avoidable asthma risk factors.

1. Smoking

Exposure to firsthand cigarette smoke can irritate the airways and make it more likely that a person with asthma will have more frequent and severe symptoms.

This is also true for secondhand smoke. Even when people smoke outside the home or in a car, the lingering smoke and chemicals can expose others to secondhand smoke.

Children whose mothers smoke cigarettes during pregnancy are also at greater risk of asthma than children whose mothers do not, according to the American Lung Association.

2. Obesity

Doctors are not yet sure of the underlying cause, but obesity seems to be linked with asthma. Scientists have a theory that obesity can cause inflammation in the body, including in the airways, leading to asthma.

Obesity increases the amount of specific inflammatory factors that can increase the number of white blood cells in the body. This may cause inflammation and airway irritation.

3. Air pollution

People who live in urban areas, where there is more smoke and smog, are more likely to have asthma. Smog is darker air pollution that tends to be present in bigger cities with more vehicles and factories.

Ozone, which is a major component of smog, can trigger asthma symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath.

As well as ozone, smog contains sulfur dioxide, which can irritate the airways and trigger asthma attacks.

4. Occupational exposures

Scientists have linked exposure to irritants such as pesticides to a higher risk of asthma. This risk extends beyond those who work with pesticides, such as farmers.

In fact, other at-risk groups include:

  • children of pesticide workers who store equipment near the home or wear clothes that carry pesticide residue
  • people who live near pesticide-treated areas or factories
  • people who live in agricultural areas where it is likely that pesticide spraying occurs indoors or outdoors

Exposure to harsh chemicals such as cleaning products may also be a risk factor for asthma. This is especially true for spray cleaning products distributed into the air.

5. Allergies

Allergens such as pet dander and pollen can trigger asthma attacks. People who have allergy-related conditions such as eczema and allergic rhinitis are more likely to have asthma.

As a result, avoiding allergic triggers can help prevent asthma reactions.

Examples of allergens that may trigger asthma include:

  • pet dander
  • dust mites
  • mold
  • pollens

If certain allergens trigger asthma symptoms, avoiding these triggers whenever possible is vital.

6. Respiratory infections

Children with asthma who have upper respiratory infections are more likely to experience wheezing. During an upper respiratory infection, such as a cold, the airways may be more prone to the wheezing that can lead to asthma symptoms.

While it is not always possible to prevent upper respiratory infections, it is vital to take steps to prevent illness in children. A caregiver can achieve this by encouraging frequent handwashing and avoiding exposure to people with colds or other respiratory infections.

Family history

Scientists have found more than 100 genes potentially responsible for asthma, according to a study paper in the Italian Journal of Pediatrics. However, no single gene by itself causes asthma.

Some research suggests that 35–95 percent of people with a family history of asthma will get the condition, according to a study paper in the journal Pediatrics & Neonatology.

Although it is not possible to change family history, people can be aware that others in their family have asthma and seek treatment if they start to have asthma-like symptoms.

Such people can also avoid common asthma triggers if they know they have a genetic predisposition to the condition.

Treatment and prevention

Some strategies to help prevent asthma symptoms include:

  • stopping smoking and refraining from smoking around others, especially children
  • avoiding public places where cigarette smoking occurs
  • limiting outdoor exposure on days with heavy smog or smoke
  • encouraging a diet high in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein
  • encouraging childhood vaccinations that can prevent common respiratory infections that could lead to worsening asthma symptoms
  • avoiding allergens that trigger asthma attacks, such as pet dander, dust mites, mold, and pollen

A person should consider talking with their doctor if they think that allergens are triggering their asthma.

Recognizing asthma symptoms, such as wheezing, coughing that is worse at night, and shortness of breath, is vital because it can help people seek suitable treatments for the condition.

An estimated 75 percent of severe asthma attacks are preventable, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology.

Doctors can prescribe many different treatment types and combinations to help a person treat their asthma. This includes inhalers to open up the airways, steroid medications to reduce inflammation, and other oral medications that help reduce airway reactivity.

If a person takes them consistently, medications alongside preventive efforts can help prevent asthma attacks from occurring.


Asthma can affect a person’s quality of life and cause serious respiratory distress that can sometimes be life-threatening. Knowing risk factors and triggers for the condition can help a person engage in preventive efforts.

If a person has asthma or concerns about risk factors, it is important that they talk with their doctor about how to consistently and effectively manage their symptoms.

Assortment of fresh vegetables and fruit

The best way to lose weight is to create a calorie deficit. While you can reduce the amount, you eat to do that, you can also give your metabolism a boost. Your metabolism is what controls a number of calories your body burns throughout the day. Boosting your metabolism will help to burn more calories leading to a larger calorie deficit without trying too hard.

To boost your metabolism, you need to eat the right foods. Great news about this is that the best foods are those that are naturally lower in calories. They’re also foods that are filling and overall good for you.

Not only do you improve your metabolic rate, but you end up eating fewer calories throughout the day by focusing on these specific foods. You will create a calorie deficit while protecting your health.

What do you need to eat? Well, it’s all about certain fruits. There are 8 fruits that you want to start eating more of daily.


This is technically multiple fruits on one, so you do get more than nine individual fruits on this list. Whether you like blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries, you will find you get a metabolic helping hand through them.

Berries are full of fiber and water. That’s pretty much all you’ll find in most of them, although there are some natural sugars. The fiber and water (berries are almost 85% water) will help to keep you feeling much fuller for longer. Your body finds it harder to digest fiber, despite the fiber supporting your digestive system.

You can eat berries multiple ways to get the metabolic benefits. Eat them raw, put them on top of your porridge, or turn them into a smoothie. If you are going to blend, make sure you get the whole fruit rather than juice. With the juicing, you get rid of the fiber, so end up with more sugars.

You also support your overall health with berries due to some antioxidants in them. Blueberries and blackberries are among the best for antioxidants, but you can get so many health benefits from all.

Specifically, blueberries and blackberries are full of flavonoids, which help the body use up the leptin naturally produced properly. The leptin is used by the metabolism to burn fat.


Insulin levels can affect your metabolism. There’s a fruit for that!

It’s all about the grapefruit. Other citrus fruits are good, but grapefruit is the best. Studies have shown that grapefruits (despite being naturally sweet) help to lower the insulin levels within the body. When there is more insulin in the body, the metabolism can’t burn calories effectively. Everyone has higher insulin levels on a morning, so you want to start the day with grapefruit to help manage those levels and make it easier to kick start the metabolism.

There is also plenty of vitamin C in grapefruit, which helps to support the immune system. When the immune system is working effectively, the rest of the body does.

Of course, the fiber count in grapefruit is also important. It helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer, meaning you eat fewer calories throughout the day. Not only are you giving your metabolism a boost, but you’re also creating more of a calorie deficit through eating fewer calories.


Watermelons are the best, but you can also get the following benefits from any melon. Yes, there are more than nine fruits on this list when you consider some melons out there.

There’s this common misconception that melons are full of sugar. Sure, they have natural sugar, and they taste sweet, but the sugar in melon is not the same as sugar in a cookie or brownie. Melons, specifically watermelons, will help to boost the metabolism and handle the potential sugar rush.

Watermelons are full of an amino acid called arginine. This amino acid improves the metabolism directly, helping you to burn far more fat throughout the day. Yes, it’s another fruit that has proven metabolism benefits through studies. Arginine makes sure that the weight loss is through the fat, as it helps to increase the muscle mass. This gives you another benefit since more muscle means your body burns more calories naturally!

It’s also worth considering the amount of potassium in melons—a nutrient that is more commonly associated with bananas. Potassium helps the metabolism by giving the body the right energy. When the blood sugar levels drop, the liver will produce a substance called glycogen to help keep it running. The glycogen helps to burn more calories without you feeding the body more.

How does melon come into this? Well, the potassium in melon supports the body’s ability to create the glycogen needed to support the metabolism.


Technically strawberries can be added to other types of berries, but they deserve a special mention on their own. When you want a fruit that is sugary and sweet, there are high chances that you think about strawberries. These summer fruits are naturally sweet, but they can get a bad reputation for this.

It’s time to ignore the myths. They’re excellent for their metabolism-boosting abilities. They’re packed full of vitamin C—yes, strawberries have vitamin C! It’s not just citrus fruits that are good for this.

The vitamin C helps to support the body’s metabolism, by encouraging the body to burn more fat. This will help you get more energy throughout the day, without consuming a lot of calories. A cup of strawberries will only give you 50 calories!

You’ll also get all the antioxidant benefits that other berries offer, supporting your immune system. And you curb those sweet cravings. You’ll feel like you’re eating something naughty, even though you’ve eaten very few calories in your dessert!


How often do you see apricots in the store but then bypass them? Well if you want to improve your metabolism, you want to start eating them more. Apricots are one of the best fruits for iron.

Why does your body need iron? Well, the iron helps with the creation of red blood cells and supports the flow of oxygenated blood around the body. When the organs get the right amount of oxygen, they will function efficiently.

If your body doesn’t get enough iron, the metabolism will slow down. The body struggles to work harder, and you will start to feel fatigued. Your muscles can start to ache, and you’ll get a brain fog that affects your clarity and memory.

A serving of apricots will give you around 20% of your daily iron allowance. At the same time, you get a fruit that tastes sweet without the masses of calories.

Blood Oranges

These oranges are likely the least common in the supermarket, but you want to consider them. Blood oranges are packed with vitamin C, and will certainly satisfy those sweet cravings that you get daily.

Like with the strawberries, getting more vitamin C through blood oranges will support your metabolism. You’ll be able to burn fatter and store the muscle. By having more muscle mass, your body naturally has a stronger and faster metabolism. Your muscles need more energy than the fat cells.

You’ll also get more fiber through blood oranges, keeping your digestive system in check. It’s easier for your body to absorb the vitamin C that you’ve offered.

If you can’t find blood oranges, other citrus fruits are the next best thing. Oranges, tangerines, and satsumas are among the best to eat. Lemons can be good, but you may not want to eat the bitterness straight. Put some lemon slices in your water and start your day with a vitamin-packed treat.


Apples are one of the most common fruits in the home, but they are commonly overlooked for their benefits. Did you know that they are great for boosting your metabolism? This is just one of the reasons people say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. It doesn’t matter which type of apple you buy either. Choose one that you’re more likely to eat daily. If you can afford organic apples, you want to get them over others.

Eating apples will help to prevent metabolic syndrome. This is a disorder linked to diabetes, abdominal fat, and cardiovascular disease. Your metabolism slows down because of your illnesses, so you end up burning fewer calories throughout the day. Chances are you don’t notice this until you start to see the weight gain. It’s hard to recover the metabolism unless you eat the right foods, so you want to stock up on your apples.

You just need one small apple a day for the benefits. You can stock up on other protein-filled foods with the apples, and you’ll see an even better effect on your health. Studies have shown that eating an apple a day can reduce visceral fat (the dangerous fat around your middle) by 3.7% over the course of three years. You may not notice the difference initially, but you are putting your health first. Visceral fat surrounds your organs and prevents them working properly, affecting your metabolic health.

While preventing metabolic syndrome, apples will also help to fill you up. They are packed with water and fiber, helping to support your digestive system and making it easier for your intestines to soak up all the nutrients and absorb them for later use.

Your body finds it much harder to digest fiber out of all the other food groups. It will break the apple down over the course of the day, helping to increase your metabolism by 10%.

You also get plenty of vitamins B and K from apples, which also help to protect the health of your metabolism. The B vitamins support the adoption of carbs, fats, and protein into energy for your body to use throughout the day. Vitamin K helps to metabolize the protein in the body, as well as aiding with the blood flow.


The last fruit on the list is closely linked to apples. Pears have many of the same benefits, particularly the vitamins and fiber contents. You get all the vitamins B and K that your body will need for the metabolic support. Your body finds it easier to turn the food groups into energy throughout the day.

Of course, pears are also packed full of fiber, which will help to keep you feeling fuller for longer. You will only eat 96 calories in an average pear, making it the perfect snack. The juicer the better when it comes to pears, as the water content will help the fiber make you feel full sooner.

Make sure you eat the pear skin. This is where most of the fiber is. Rather than drinking pear juice, opt for a pear smoothie made from the whole fruit.


Before we start, it is essential to define body heat in order to be aware of this particular health condition. It is more commonly referred to as “heat stress”. A common cause of body heat is exposure to high temperatures that are not suitable for the body. The normal temperature of the body lies between the ranges of 36.5–37.5 degrees Celsius. Inability of the body to cool down and bounce back into the normal range refers to body heat. It is crucial to identify the symptoms that indicate this uneasy state of the body. These include sleeplessness, a sort of burning sensation in the eyes, uneasiness in the stomach, ulcers, digestion problems like acidity and gas. In some people, it can impact the heart rate, leading to rapid heartbeat among many other symptoms.

There are innumerable causes of body heat. Residing in places with extreme temperatures, exposure to heat wave is not uncommon.  When individuals do not take the required precautions to avoid suffering from dehydration, it can lead to a fatal condition known as a heat stroke. In this condition, people are unable to control their body temperature and fever rises uncontrollably. This could be life threatening if not diagnosed at an early stage.

Surprisingly, the clothes that we wear play a significant role in maintaining our body temperature. Clothes that are synthetic trap moisture and thus lead to high body temperature. A more serious problem is the thyroid gland that becomes more active and changes the temperature of the body. Prolonged fever or infections are also predominant causes of high body heat. Certain neurological disorders and medicines that are not prescribed by doctors can cause this condition as well.

Eating very hot and spicy food is a contributing factor that gives rise to heat. So people who insist on consuming oily and fried food must be careful. In the field of Ayurveda, they often distinguish between foods that are hot in nature and those that have a cooling effect. Thus nuts must be avoided. Diets that are rich in proteins, especially for people who are fitness enthusiasts, must be controlled. Protein rich foods are a storehouse of heat causing agents. Meat, eggs and cinnamon powder are all prime sources that can cause potential damage, leading to rise in body heat.

According to Dr Anju Sood, expert nutritionist, she suggests certain precautions and measures that must be undertaken to remain hydrated and within the bounds of normal body temperature. These are as follows:

1. Extraordinarily high consumption of room temperature or cold water

Water has the potential to cool down the body. One can consume or dip one’s feet in a bucket of cold water to keep body temperature under control.

drinking water

2. Tender coconut water

Having coconut water can be beneficial in two ways. Firstly it is a form of fluid and thus is a water-based drink. Secondly, it is very rich in minerals and vitamins which are crucial in cooling down the body.

coconut water

3. Peppermint and mint

As we are aware, mint or pudina leaves have a perennial cooling effect. It is a spice that can be added to any drink, such as a lemonade and produce the desired effect.

peppermint tea

4. Fruits and vegetables 

Almost all propagators of health food are insistent on consuming fruits and vegetables like bitter gourd, cucumber, tori, watermelon, etc. All these are extremely rich in water and have a nourishing effect. But watermelon must be consumed in the first half of the day as it is very rich in fiber. Consuming it in the latter half of the day might not be good for the stomach.

fruits and vegetables

5. Drinking milk along with honey

Add a tablespoon of honey in cold milk and it works wonders.

almond milk

6. Sandalwood

It is available in a number of forms such as soaps or powders. Applying this or rubbing it regularly on the body has a cooling effect. Ayurvedic beliefs use this as a constant source of cooling down the body.

sandalwood 625

7. Pomegranate Juice

It can be mixed with almond oil and had on a daily basis. It is an excellent remedy to control body temperature and can be consumed by all age groups.

pomegranate juice 620

8. Vitamin C rich foods

it is a good cure for internal and external heat. Oranges, lemons, grapefruits, etc should be consumed daily during the hot months. According to the experts, drinking high levels of caffeinated products must be avoided, along with alcoholic drinks. All these products are harmful and are capable of rising body heat. Being aware of the consequences of the food we eat should not be taken lightly. Sometimes, unknowingly we consume foods that are detrimental to our health and well-being.

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is important for good health. Find out why experts say Mother Nature’s bounty packs better nutrients than supplements.

If we are what we eat, then many of us must be tripping all over the place due to a lack of balance. That’s because the average American eats about three servings of fruits and vegetables per day — a stark contrast to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new guidelines stating that we should be eating 5 to 13 servings of nature’s best, depending on the number of calories you need.

So if we want to grow to be strong like Popeye, why can’t we just down some supplements instead of devouring a pile of spinach?

Nutrients in fresh fruits and vegetables work together. Kristine Wallerius Cuthrell, MPH, RD, a research nutritionist and senior project coordinator for Hawaii Foods at the Center on the Family at University of Hawaii at Manoa, says that in the past five to 10 years, many large research studies have found that vitamin supplements don’t provide the benefits that foods do. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, created jointly between HHS and USDA and reviewed every five years, say that foods are the best sources of nutrients because they contain naturally occurring ingredients, like carotenoids and flavonoids.

“In addition to the substances we are aware of, there are many present in fruits and vegetables that have yet to be discovered. Food and the nutrients they contain aren’t consumed singly, but with each other. As such, they may act in synergistic ways to promote health,” Cuthrell says. For instance, eating iron-rich plants, like spinach, with an iron-absorbing enhancer, like the vitamin C in orange juice, is great for people who don’t get enough iron (typically young women).

Fruits and vegetables may prevent many illnesses. Eating fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. The Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study examined nearly 110,000 people over the course of 14 years. Part of the study revealed that the more fruits and vegetables people ate daily, the less chance they would develop cardiovascular diseases.

The relationship between fruits and vegetables and cancer prevention has been more difficult to prove. However, recent studies show that some types of produce are associated with lower rates of some types of cancer. For example, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research suggest that mouth, stomach, and colorectal cancers are less likely with high intakes of non-starchy foods like leafy greens, broccoli, and cabbage. Though studies have been mixed, lycopene, a carotenoid that gives tomatoes their red color, may help stave off prostate cancer.

Fruits and vegetables are great for watching your weight. They’re low in fat and calories, and loaded with fiber and water, which create a feeling of fullness. This is particularly helpful for dieters who want more filling calories. Plus, that fiber helps keep you “regular.”

Fruits and Vegetables: Get Your Fill

When adding fruits and vegetables to your diet, remember that variety is the spice of life. It’s important to eat produce of various colors because each fruit or vegetable offers a different nutrient — think of it as nutritional cross-training. Trying new foods can be exciting, and be sure to sample every color in the produce rainbow.

The right number of servings of fruits and vegetables for you all depends on your daily caloric intake needs. A good way to find out how many servings you should be eating is by using the CDC’s online serving calculator. Or make things even simpler by eating a fruit or vegetable at every meal and snack.

Don’t let season, accessibility, or cost affect your fruit- and vegetable-friendly diet. If finding fresh produce is difficult, choose frozen, canned (low-sodium), or dried varieties. Also, 100 percent juice counts toward your servings, though it doesn’t offer the full fiber of whole fruit.

The power of prevention may lie in a salad bowl or a plate of fruit. When we take advantage of produce, our bodies return the favor by reducing our risk of developing various illnesses.

While the old adage “you are what you eat” is only partially true you are also what your genetics predisposes you to be what we put into our bodies clearly does have an impact on our health and overall well-being. And while some diets may promise a magic bullet to healthier aging, there are a few basic food rules that we really shouldn’t stray from.

Here are five super foods that you should be having every day:

1) Water.
Our bodies need water to live. Water flushes toxins out of our vital organs and carries nutrients to our cells. We lose water every day — literally through sweat and tears — and we must replenish it. But just how much water we need is a point of discussion. The old standard bearer of 8 eight-ounce glasses of water a day may not be today’s most popular wisdom. The Mayo Clinic says: For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water. An adequate intake for men is roughly three liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day; for women, it’s 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day. Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day — not necessarily water because all fluids count toward the daily total. But water, it’s still the purest, isn’t it?

2) Green vegetables.
Yes, kale is the new superfood on everyone’s table. But as one friend recently observed as he turned his nose up at the offer of a kale shake, “Wasn’t that the stuff that was the decoration on salad bars a few years ago?” One and the same, indeed. Kale is low in calories and high in calcium, vitamins A, C, and K. It’s also high in antioxidants, all of which makes it the current sweetheart veggie. For those who have tried it 100 different ways and still think it belongs as a salad bar decoration, we say there is always spinach, swiss chard, broccoli and asparagus. Don’t make excuses when it comes to eating your veggies.

3) Fresh, not highly processed.
There are processed foods and then there are processed foods. Minimally processed foods — like bagged spinach, cut vegetables and roasted nuts — are often just pre-prepped for convenience. At the other end of the processing spectrum are frozen and pre-made meals like microwaveable dinners and frozen pizza. Read the labels, and if you can’t pronounce some of the ingredients, think twice about eating them. Most canned vegetables, soups and sauces are preserved by adding sodium. And while we need some sodium each day, consuming more than the dietary guidelines can contribute to hypertension — high blood pressure. Best to stick with fresh, and read labels carefully.

4) Nuts.
As the joke goes, don’t go nuts with nuts. But in moderation (and assuming no allergies), nuts can be a healthy addition to any diet. They contain polyphenols, which keeps your heart healthy. Let’s face it, nuts need some good PR. For years they were seen as salty, high calorie and fatty and you were most likely to find them in the supermarket aisle with the chips and snack foods. Now, nutritionists say certain nuts deserve an honored spot in every healthy eater’s kitchen. They are loaded in protein, fiber, healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. Studies have shown that nuts have powerful cholesterol-lowering effects.

WebMD.com reports that the benefits of certain nuts were clear enough for the FDA in 2003 to issue a “qualified health claim” for peanuts and certain tree nuts — almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts. That status allows some nuts and foods made with them to carry this claim: “Eating a diet that includes one ounce of nuts daily can reduce your risk of heart disease.”

5) Flaxseed. 
Flaxseed is one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet, rich in plant-based Omega-3s. There’s some evidence it may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. In the 8th Century, King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it, says WebMD.com.

Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, the main ones are Omega-3 essential fatty acids, fiber, and lignans for their antioxidant qualities.