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Table of Contents
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 58-59

Potential of millet as an immune booster to fight against COVID-19

Department of Nutrition Biology, School of Interdisciplinary and Applied Sciences, Central University of Haryana, Mahendragarh, Haryana, India

Date of Submission25-Aug-2020
Date of Decision21-Sep-2020
Date of Acceptance28-Jan-2021
Date of Web Publication09-Apr-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Tejpal Dhewa
Department of Nutrition Biology, School of Interdisciplinary and Applied Sciences, Central University of Haryana, Mahendragarh - 123 031, Haryana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJFNS.IJFNS_25_20

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How to cite this article:
Samtiya M, Dhewa T. Potential of millet as an immune booster to fight against COVID-19. Int J Food Nutr Sci 2020;9:58-9

How to cite this URL:
Samtiya M, Dhewa T. Potential of millet as an immune booster to fight against COVID-19. Int J Food Nutr Sci [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jun 16];9:58-9. Available from: https://www.ijfans.org/text.asp?2020/9/4/58/313381

Millet is a type of cereals that are consumed worldwide due to its immense nutritional content. It has gained the researcher's utmost focus due to its significant functional roles in combating several ailments. It has already been established that millet is a rich source of bioactive content, micronutrients, fibers, vitamins that make it suitable for overall nutritional needs. Due to its constituent's pharmacological activities, it can be used for health management.[1]

At present, the world is facing a considerable health risk due to one of the most deadly strains of the virus that caused the COVID-19 disease. This ongoing COVID-19 situation has been confirmed as a global public health emergency by the World Health Organization.[2] It generally affect humans and targeting the respiratory system severely. In December 2019, a novel strain of coronavirus detected, which is mainly instigating severe pneumonia and finally mortality, reports concluded that it's genetically the same as earlier SARS-CoV, which had caused severe acute respiratory distress syndrome in 2002, so it named to be SARS-CoV-2. However, humans do not have immunity against this strain due to its novelty, and it cannot be eliminated naturally by the human immune system. It can generally affect older persons, who already have been facing concerns such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disorder, and hypertension; they don't have the immunity to cope with this as a suppressed immune system.[3] Diet and nutrition may be suggested for the mitigation of infections caused by the virus, including COVID-19. It has been stated that particular nutrients or their cocktails may improve the immune functions via stimulations of cells, signaling pathways modulations, and expression of the gene.[2] Millets have been reported for their immense source of zinc and iron compared to the other cereals crops. However, they contain the utmost concentration of proteins and vitamins.[4],[5] Zinc is considered an essential micronutrient that is required to maintain the immune functions in the body. Previous reports have been confirmed that zinc supplementation may improve the rigorousness of bronchiolitis and pneumonia cases. Moreover, a systematic review has been validated that zinc supplementation considerably linked with reducing rates of pneumonia.[6],[7] Peoples are more at risk of COVID-19 infections who have low immunity than those with better immunity.[8] Immunity or immune functions can be strengthened by taking an adequate amount of micronutrients such as iron, zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin E.[2],[3] The virus commonly forms proteins molecules that have harmful actions on the host body. It has been stated that flavonoids are attached to these proteins' active sites and hinder protein molecule activity to neutralize the virus actions.[9] Moreover, millets comprise numerous flavonoids that have been reported as active anti-viral agents. In a computational study, the main protease (MPro) of SARS-CoV-2 was docked with millet-derived flavonoids (eleven), i.e., myricetin, tricin, isovitexin, orientin, luteolin, daidzein, catechin, isoorientin, meletin, apigenin, and vitexin, besides two reference drugs. The present study confirmed that apigenin may be recommended as a possible inhibitor of (Mpro) SARS-CoV-2, based on the result of high binding affinities and positive absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, and toxicity properties. Hence, millets consumption may be suggested as an immune system booster that can be eventually effective to COVID-19.[10]

Millets are the most important and highly consumed food in the world. It is proven by the previous studies that essential vitamins and trace components such as zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), and selenium can support immunity.[3],[11] The latest blog reported that in COVID-19 situations, again millet appears to be in demand due to its constituents' immune booster biological activities. It can perform several body functions that can improve the immune system against contagions.[12]

The scientists and doctors are also endorsing that taking a reasonable quantity of millet, people would improve their immune functioning, helping them to fight with the novel coronavirus infection. However, several foods are also known to be enhancers of immune responses. Besides, millet is a staple cereal and may be useful in such kind of pandemic situation (COVID-19) due to the nutritional properties that make it “Nutri-cereals.”[13]


Authors are thankful to SERB-DST (file no.ECR/2016/001893) for financial support.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Nithiyanantham S, Kalaiselvi P, Mahomoodally MF, Zengin G, Abirami A, Srinivasan G. Nutritional and functional roles of millets – A review. J Food Biochem 2019;43:e12859.  Back to cited text no. 1
Naja F, Hamadeh R. Nutrition amid the COVID-19 pandemic: A multi-level framework for action. Eur J Clin Nutr 2020;74:1117-21.  Back to cited text no. 2
Calder PC. Nutrition, immunity and COVID-19. BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health. 2020;3:74, e000085. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/ bmjnph-2020-000085. [Last accessed on 2020 Aug 24].  Back to cited text no. 3
Sripad AM. Coronavirus Makes People Turn to Millets, Farmers Increase Sowing Area. September 4, 2020. Available from: https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2020/sep/04/coronavirus-makes-people-turn-to-millets-farmers-increase-sowing-area-2192252.html. [Last accessed on 2020 Oct 05].  Back to cited text no. 4
Vinoth A, Ravindhran R. Biofortification in millets: A sustainable approach for nutritional security. Front Plant Sci 2017;8:29.  Back to cited text no. 5
Aggarwal R, Sentz J, Miller MA. Role of zinc administration in prevention of childhood diarrhea and respiratory illnesses: A meta-analysis. Pediatrics 2007;119:1120-30.  Back to cited text no. 6
Lassi ZS, Moin A, Bhutta ZA. Zinc supplementation for the prevention of pneumonia in children aged 2 months to 59 months. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2016;12. Art. No: CD005978. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1002 /14651858.CD005978.pub3. [Last accessed on 2020 Oct 05].  Back to cited text no. 7
Nizami, NS, Uddin, CS. Strong immunity – A major weapon to fight against COVID-19. J Pharm Biol Sci 2020;15:22-9.  Back to cited text no. 8
Sawikowska A. Meta-analysis of flavonoids with antiviral potential against coronavirus. Biom lett 2020;57:13-22.  Back to cited text no. 9
Mishra A, Rath SC, Baitharu I, Bag BP. Millet derived flavonoids as potential SARS-CoV-2 main protease inhibitors: A computational approach. 2020; Preprint. https://doi.org/10.26434/chemrxiv.12733622.v2. [Last accessed on 2020 Oct 05].  Back to cited text no. 10
Anitha S, Govindaraj M, Kane-Potaka J. Balanced amino acid and higher micronutrients in millets complements legumes for improved human dietary nutrition. Cereal Chem 2020;97:74-84.  Back to cited text no. 11
Express News Service. Back to Millets for Better Immunity. April 30, 2020. Available from: https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/hyderabad/2020/apr/30/back-to-millets-for-better-immunity-2137105.html. [Last accessed on 2020 Aug 24].  Back to cited text no. 12
Kurmanath KV. Strong Immunity is a Key Weapon in the Fight against COVID-19. April 28, 2020. Available from: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/agri-business/strong-immunity-is-a-key-weapon-in-the-fight-against-covid-19/article31453126.ece. [Last accessed on 2020 Aug 25].  Back to cited text no. 13


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