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Maintaining proper nutrition during the COVID-19 pandemic

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By Hannah Mallorca
Features Writer, The Philippine STAR

According to the Department of Health (DoH), maintaining proper nutrition is crucial to protect the body from COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). The department released guidelines on how to care for the nutrition and boost the immunity of Filipino families, especially during the quarantine period.

Proper nutrition amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Observe the three principles of nutrition in preparing food for your family.

Balance, Variety and Moderation

Maintain a balanced diet.

–      Eat Go, Grow and Glow food.

–      Drink eight glasses of water.

Observe health measures when shopping for groceries.

Prioritize buying vegetables, fruits, meat, fish and eggs.

Plan your family meals.

–      Make a food inventory.

–      Observe First In, First Out when deciding what meals to serve your family.

Double-check the food you buy and observe proper preparation methods.

–      Ensure that your drinking water is clean.

–      Wash and clean food properly before cooking and preparation.

–      Wash your hands for 20 seconds before cooking.

–      Wash dishes and cooking utensils.

Observe proper exercise

Do it three times a week.

Eating the right food

For National Nutrition Council – Nutrition Information and Education division chief Jovie Raval, good nutrition is crucial during the pandemic as it helps build immunity against diseases.

“Nutrition should be part of a healthy lifestyle. If you have a balanced diet, there is no need to take vitamin and mineral supplements unless prescribed by your health professional,” she said.

According to Ms. Raval, nutritious food include vegetables, fruits, lean meat, eggs, chicken, tofu or tokwa, legumes, brown rice, corn and root crops. She also recommends avoiding alcohol since it reduces immunity.

For Nutritionist Dietitians Association of the Philippines national president Zenaida Velasco, staying hydrated is important to maintain proper nutrition. However, drinking water every 15 minutes is a myth since it doesn’t guarantee full protection against the virus.

“Drinking water flushes toxins from your body. They do not neutralize the toxins, but our kidneys use water to get rid of certain waste products. An accumulation of toxins weakens the immune system,” clarified Ms. Velasco.

Boosting immunity through medicine

According to Ms. Velasco, relying on supplements to treat or prevent COVID-19 may do more harm than good. Maintaining nutrition by eating food rich with vitamins A, C, D, E and zinc is still recommended.

“There is not enough research to support the use of high dose of vitamin C (1000 milligrams or more) with lung inflammation. Taking too much vitamin C supplements can cause side effects like diarrhea, heartburn, abdominal cramps, headache, even insomnia,” added Ms. Velasco.

For Ms. Raval, there is limited evidence supporting the claim that taking high doses of vitamin C can boost the immune system.

“Any excess vitamin C intake is excreted in the urine. Thus, there is really no need to take vitamin C supplements if the diet is adequate,” said Ms. Raval.

WHAT IF YOU’RE MORE AT RISK?

If you’re more prone in catching the virus, Ms. Raval recommended these tips in taking care of your health during the pandemic.

Follow the recommendations of DoH such as frequent proper handwashing, social distancing, staying at home, and eating healthy food.
Older people should be supported by their families to make sure they eat healthy and drink enough water.
Babies should be breastfed exclusively in the first six months and be given appropriate complementary feeding while continuing to breastfeed.

 

At present, there is no antiviral medication to treat COVID-19. However, the pandemic is a call for the world to take care of their health and for various sectors to ensure the safety of mankind.





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