By: Dr. Riza Abilgos-Ramos, nutritionist of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice)

In fighting illnesses, it’s the immune system that shields us. For this system to function well, we need more colorful and natural food on our plates.

Food diversity is key in helping fight viruses, common colds, and other usual sickness. To boost our immune system, we need a combination of different foods to get the recommended amount of each essential nutrient our body needs. Always remember, there’s no single food that can provide enough of all the nutrients.  

A diversified and well-balanced diet entails us to eat enough of fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes and beans; consume more whole grains than simple sugars; and drink 2-3 liters of water per day. It also means we prefer brown and colored rice over white rice and we take in green leafy vegetables. This healthy diet easily boosts our immune system with minerals, antioxidants and vitamins, which include B-vitamins, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C.

How do we ensure that we’re eating healthy? Let’s just follow recommendations from nutritionists.

A normal adult like you and me should consume at least 3 tablespoons (48g) of whole grain per day. Whole grains, including brown, black, and red rice, are packed with protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals.

The average 19-59 Filipino adult should also eat 1-2 cups of cooked vegetables per meal. Let’s also include 1-2 cups of fruits per day and double this intake as much as possible when sick. For children and teenagers, 1-3 cups of fruits and vegetables per day is recommended.

How do you like eating green leafy vegetables? You know, green is associated with health. So it’s cool to include our local greens such as malunggay, saluyot, kangkong, mustasa, pechay, and kamote leaves in cooking our viands/dishes with fish as these are good sources of disease-fighting nutrients.

Snacks are also good in between meals if we eat healthy. Limit snacking on sweets; instead, munch on nuts like peanuts, nutritious beans, and squash and sunflower seeds.

Staying healthy through diversified and balanced diet can also be made fun and inexpensive by growing our own food. For easier access to supply, grow tomatoes, eggplants, and other green leafy vegetables in your backyard or in pots.

As we try to be conscious of our health, PhilRice researchers are also developing non-dairy substitutes like rice-malt with soy, sesame, and peanut milks.

Sometimes, we think good health is quite difficult to achieve. We can do it simply: just think of colors and natural food. When we give our body the goodness it needs, it will reward us by protecting us against illnesses and diseases. So, from today onwards, let’s have a diversified, balanced diet!

Should you have questions about nutrition and on staying healthy, email me at raramos@philrice.gov.ph.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute