COVID-19, a disease caused by a novel corona virus, became a major global human threat that has turned in to pandemic. Corona virus is one of the major pathogens that mainly target the human respiratory system. It is mandatory to attain and maintain good nutritional status to fight against virus. Nutritional status of individual is affected by several factors such as age, sex, health status, lifestyle and medication. Challenges arise concerning how to optimally support the immune system in general population, especially under self confinement. An optimal immune response depends on an adequate diet & nutrition in order to keep infection at bay. Poor nutrient status is associated with inflammation & oxidative stress. So, Nutrition plays a vital role in preventing the symptoms like diarrhoea, dry cough etc. and also helps in boosting immunity.
Nutrition recommendation during COVID -19 pandemic:-
- Try to eat well- balanced meals, as it will guarantee a strong immune system that can help withstand any assault by the virus.
- Avoid irregular snacking
- Choose foods rich in vitamins A,C,E,B6 and B12, zinc & iron such as citrus fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts & dairy products
- Vitamin C is one of the major constituents of water soluble vitamin which tends to make a strong immune system, daily dietary allowance for Vitamin C is 90mg/d for men & 75mg/d for women.
- Eat fruits daily (guava, apple, banana, strawberry, cantaloupe melon, grapefruit, pineapple, papaya, orange etc) with the serving size of two cups
- Eat fresh vegetables
- Add varieties of cereal & grains like barley, oats, wheat millets, brown rice and legumes or lentils in diet
- Use nuts like almonds, coconut, walnuts
- Red meat can be eaten once or twice per week & poultry 2-3 times per week
- Do not overcook vegetables as it leads to loss of important nutrients such as vitamins and minerals
- Make sure the food is prepared and served at acceptable temperatures
- Limit the salt intake
- Consume unsaturated fats which is found in avocado, fish, nuts, soy, olive oil, canola, corn oil and sunflower) rather than saturated fats (found in butter, fatty meat, ghee & cheese)
- Avoid all fizzy, carbonated, concentrated juices and all drinks which contains sugar
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle of exercise, meditation and regular sleep. Adequate sleep will help to support immune functioning.
- Eat at home to avoid contact with other people and try to reduce the chance of being exposed to COVID-19.
- Dietary constituents with especially high anti inflammatory and antioxidant capacity include vitamin C, vitamin E and phytochemicals such as caretenoids and polyphenols.
- Maintain healthy lifestyle of exercise (Home exercise), regular sleep & meditation
- Avoid smoking, alcohol & drugs
- Refrain from spreading misinformation related to nutrition and dietary intake & the COVID -19
Good nutrition is vital for maintain good health status, particularly at this point of time when your immune system has taken a set back and is in a weaker state after being infected with the deadly corona virus. When the body is combating an infection, it naturally needs more energy fluids, hence it is pivotal to fuel the system with the right amount of nutrients than you usually needs.
Even if you have recently recuperated from COVID -19, you must adhere to strict diet and healthy lifestyle.
Nutrition recommendation to post COVID -19 Patients:-
- Add calorie-dense foods to get energy levels back to form. Include whole grains cereals like wheat, millets, oats, brown rice and starchy roots such as potato, sweet potato, yam and tapioca in your daily meal plan
- Proteins containing essential amino acids help in faster recovery. Consumes high protein diet about 75-100gm of proteins is needed per day. Take as much lentils, legumes, milk & milk products, soy, nuts and seeds as you can in the diet regimen.
- Animal sources such as lean meats, chicken, fish and eggs can be included for non- vegetarians
- Natural fruits and vegetables boast a dense nutritional punch such dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
- Right from fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices have impressive immune boosting properties as they are loaded with antioxidants and a host of bioactive compounds which helps to boost immunity
- Incorporate herbs on you regular diet such as herbal drinks like kadha, turmeric milk, ginger tea, green tea or herbal teas to uplift your energy levels and strengthen the immune response
- Water is an important element for life. Infections can dehydrate the body, so its vital to hydrate yourself when you are recuperating. Consume hydrating foods like soups, herbal tea.
- Restrict too much of caffeine and avoid consuming sweetened fruit juices, syrups, fruit juice concentrates and carbonated beverages
- Consume healthy fats such as unsaturated fatty acids like nuts, olive, sunflower, gingelly, soy, canola and corn oil
- Avoid all saturated fats like fatty meat, processed meats butter, cream & ghee
- Avoid consuming all trans fats found in processed food, fast food and deep fried snacks, cookies and bakery foods
- It is recommended to limit the salt intake to less than 5 gm per day.
- Avoid snacks that are high is sugar like cookies, cakes and chocolates instead choose fruits and nuts
Good food practices are always recommended by following them to minimize the risk of contamination which is as follows:-
- Wash vegetables and fruits before eating
- Wash, rinse and disinfect objects and surfaces every time before and after use
- Keep cooked and raw foods to separate, as it would prevent the harmful microbes from raw foods to prevent cross – contamination
- Foods services workers should use gloves while preparing a meal
- Try not to display or sell unwrapped food from the self service counter
- Frequently disinfects surfaces which came in contact with the customers or workers such as door knobs, counters, grocery carts
- High standards of personal hygiene should be maintained during food preparation.
A proper and healthy diet can ensure a robust immune system that can resist any onslaught by the virus. A certain amount of particular nutrients saturates into cells and prevents any kind of nutritional deficiency. Individuals consuming well-balanced diet appear to be safer with a better immune system and lower incidence of chronic diseases and infections. The main objective of this article is to induce healthy dietary habits that help to maintain the physical and mental health of individuals.
Senior Dietician & Head
Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana