While the world is confronted with uncertainties brought about by the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), we should also remember to focus on revitalizing our immune system, which acts as our natural defense against this virus.
The Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) recommends following the principle of a balanced diet using the Pinggang Pinoy as a menu planning guide. It emphasizes various portions of go, glow, and grow food, complemented by fats and oils and high intake of water.
Melatonin revitalizes the immune system amid the pandemic. It regulates the human physiological rhythm, alleviates related disorders like insomnia, acts as an antioxidant, enhances the immune system, has antiaging and anti-inflammatory effects, and facilitates the control of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and obesity.
Enrich your diet with the following food sources of melatonin:
Cereals—Nonglutinous black rice contains twice the level of melatonin of regular rice, while the concentration is reduced to a third when rice is polished. For other cereals, melatonin is relatively high in wheat, barley and oats. Meanwhile, bread crumbs have higher levels than crust.
Fruits—These are the highest, in decreasing order: the skin of grapes, cherries and strawberries. Others include pineapple, kiwi, apple, pomegranate, mulberry and cranberry.
Nuts, vegetables Legumes and seeds—Legumes and seeds such as white and black mustard and sautéed mung bean sprout (togue) are good sources. Meanwhile, melatonin is also found in lentils, kidney beans, barley seed, alfalfa, coriander, green cardamom, fennel, anise, flax and almond.
Nuts—Pistachio and walnuts are the top sources from this group of food.
Vegetables—Tomatoes and peppers contain relatively high concentrations. Other vegetables with varying levels of melatonin content are onion, garlic, ginger, black olive, cabbage, cauliflower, turnip, cucumber, carrot, radish, beetroot, purslane, spinach, asparagus, chungitsu, taro, Indian spinach, Chinese cabbage, Japanese butterbur, ashitaba and radish.
Beverages—Coffee, roasted beans, orange and grape juice, cacao, and balsamic vinegars are all high in content.
Edible oils—Top contenders are refined linseed and virgin soybean oils. Others include refined olive, sunflower oils and extra-virgin olive oil.
Animal food—Eggs and fish have higher content than lamb, beef, pork and chicken.
Consumption of these melatonin-containing foods may have health impacts and revitalize one’s immune system by increasing circulating melatonin in the blood stream and increasing body antioxidant capacity, and where a domino of good health effects may be enhanced.—CONTRIBUTED INQ
The author is a registered nutritionist-dietitian, was a scholar of the DOST, and holds master’s degrees from the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde and University of the Philippines. He is an assistant professor at the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management of the DLS-CSB where he teaches Culinary Nutrition, Wellness, Food Safety, Sanitation and Security.