The Office of the Ministry of Health has already reminded the Indonesian people to eat healthy food, exercise regularly and get enough rest as soon as the news got out early January this year that people are getting sick in Wuhan, China of the newly-named corona virus, COVID-19.
Before we could get more information about this ConVid-N, its name before its true nature was ascertained, the best way to protect ourselves from being infected is to increase our antibodies so that we can build resistance to any viruses. Although not much was known about this new strain of corona virus as of late December, in just a few weeks a lot of information surfaced because of social media and technology. A two-day forum in February conducted by the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland which was participated in also through remote discussion by scientists and representatives of health institutions worldwide contributed to help us understand the virus and stop it from spreading.
And indeed, the Ministry of Health was spot on in focusing on building one’s stamina.
In Indonesia, Prof. C. A. Nidom of Airlangga University and the Head of Research Team of Corona and Vaccine Formulation has advised the public to take a concoction of ginger, lemon grass, and Java ginger (temulawak–curcuma) every morning and for homemakers to continue cooking meals with ingredients that include curcumin-rich spices, such as those mentioned above, as well as turmeric. These are the spices that are used in cooking Padang food and other popular Indonesian dishes.
There have been other postings re immune-boosters long before the Wuhan virus epidemic. In the Philippines, Dr. Albert Jo who runs an organic farm in Bacolod shared the following healthful concoction years back through his YouTube Channel: 1/3 cup fresh coconut meat, 7 leaves fresh oregano, 1/8 cup fresh moringa oleifera (malunggay in Filipino and kelor in Indonesian), pansit-pansitan, gotu kola (in Filipino) and add coconut water to make up the rest of 1 full cup.
Aside from spices and herbs, the regular intake of virgin coconut oil will also help strengthen our immune system. Filipino academician and scientist Dr. Fabian Antonio M. Dayrit has been on the news lately because of his long-running work on virgin coconut oil (VCO), first inspired by pathbreaking research on it by his father, Dr. Conrado S. Dayrit. Since the spread of COVID-19 has become a hot issue, Dr. Fabian Dayrit has been busy responding to TV and radio interviews regarding the study that he and Dr. Mary Newport are proposing on the use of VCO as treatment for patients who are tested positive with COVID-19. Although proving that VCO can cure patients infected by the virus might still take time, VCO’s efficacy in promoting good health and immunity has already proven by studies conducted in different countries, including Indonesia.
As early as 2010, Kompas.com has published an article about why coconut oil promotes good health. Prof. Walujo Soejodibroto, Sp.GK(K), MSc, full professor of Nutrition Science, Faculty of Medicine, University of Indonesia has mentioned that there is no historical proof that the regular consumption of coconut oil, coconut milk, and other coconut products will lead to ill health. On the other hand, consuming coconut oil every day according to one’s need proved to be useful in promoting good health, including the heart and regulating blood pressure.
With the recent announcement from President Joko Widodo that two Indonesians are already infected with COVID-19, some resorted to panic buying as if a pandemic has already occurred. If I have not experienced the 1998 crisis in Indonesia, I think, I would follow the crowd too. What stopped me from panic-buying in 1998 was when my husband asked me, “If you hoarded food stuffs and your neighbors don’t have any, are you not going to give them what you have?” This is Indonesia after all and in my grassroots community, even in the middle of a big city such as Jakarta, we share whatever we have. Further, panic buying would only worsen the economic condition of the less economically privileged city dwellers because it would drive prices higher as a result of an artificial shortage.
We are not powerless in facing COVID-19. Let’s continue doing our regular work and caring for our families. We can’t just drop everything. People need to eat every day. Business establishments must continue to operate.
The social media is already flooded with guidelines on what to do to prevent us from catching the virus. We can do all those at the same time boost our immune system by using local spices and virgin coconut oil in our diet; reducing intake of carbohydrates and sugar*; eating healthy food and being physically active; getting positive vibes from our loving family and friends; enjoying our work and getting enough sleep; and most of all being happy by worrying less.
*Note: This only refers to simple and (highly) processed carbohydrates and refined/added sugars. Continue to eat fruits and vegetables that are good sources of carbohydrates and sugars plus vitamins and minerals. (Thanks to my niece, Maria Isabela Aurellado, for pointing this out)
•Edited on 9 March 2020 to make this article more readable