‘Nobody fully understands the illness yet,’ is a phrase we often heard during the Covid-19 pandemic. And it’s no wonder. With so many various symptoms and the different faces of the virus, ranging from something mild and harmless to something horrifying and deadly, most experts and citizens alike are often baffled about the real risk of infection, or whether or not the virus is as mild or as fatal as it seems.
Although the virus, in its entirety, may seem like a mystery, one thing remains certain: a strong immune system is key to not only fight the virus, but also to hamper the severity of the symptoms that can beat down your body.
It’s no secret that people with stronger immune systems are better able to fight viruses and recover more easily.
That is why the Kaizer Motaung Jr. Foundation focused many of their Covid-19 initiatives on healthy living, which included eating a healthier diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, as well as regular exercise.
‘During level 5 of lockdown, we partnered with various organisations to organise a big food drive to rural areas in order to help starving communities. The Kaizer Motaung Jr. Foundation partnered with Green Urban Food, to provide, in addition to staple foods, a 20kg fruit and vegetables pack that could provide much needed nutrients to a family for a month,’ explains Kaizer Motaung Jr, the founder of the fund.
Fruit and vegetables are known for being rich in important vitamins and minerals that our body need to function optimally, while the nutrients that are responsible for colour and flavour, like phytonutrients, antioxidants, fibres and oils, are credited with many health and healing benefits as well as immune-modulating properties that can help combat infections.
‘But, we don’t want to stop there,’ says Motaung, ‘with the help of Green Urban Food, our future plans include teaching and helping communities to grow their own fruit and vegetable gardens in their own backyards. This will not only help alleviate hunger and boost health in the long run, but it can even help people start up their own businesses by selling their self-produced goods.’
In addition to promoting a healthier diet, Motaung says that it is also important to highlight the importance of exercise and sport as a health-boosting and virus-fighting ally.
A study in the Journal of Sport and Health Science found that exercise can help boost germ-fighting immune system cells and lower your risk for illnesses.
‘On Nelson Mandela Day, we partnered with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and other organisations to host a #Ride4Hope campaign, which entailed participants to peddle exercise bikes for 67 minutes in order to raise funds. Sport legends like the retired soccer players, Brian Baloyi and Marks Maponyane added charm and excitement to the day. Together with our various partners, we managed to raise R2.6million which will go to various Covid-19 relief programmes.’
Although this event was aimed at raising funds, Motaung, who comes from a family of sport stars, and who himself played soccer for Kaizer Chiefs, says that the emphasis that was placed on exercise during this event, should not be underestimated.
‘Sports play a more important role in building human potential than many people realise. It is now more important than ever to expose our youth to sport,’ says Motaung. ‘Sport teaches essential life skills, like self-discipline and self-management. It teaches people how to interact, how to be a team player, and how to work together towards a goal.’
‘Sport can play a role in getting the youth off the streets and away from drugs. It gives people hope, and unifies races and genders.’
‘Are these not the values we will need to rebuild our country after Covid-19?’