The pandemic COVID-19 has brought a lot of changes in the lives of people all around the world. However, we can do many things to maintain a healthy lifestyle during this difficult time. As a first step, to protect ourselves from the COVID-19 infection and transmission, we must follow the advice of the government and the WHO (World Health Organization). The best protection against COVID-19 is to maintain good hygiene and physical distancing. Refer to the WHO guidelines here.
Follow healthy nutrition
Healthy nutrition has to be maintained before and after an infection. Our body becomes weak when we have a fever due to infection. So, our body needs extra nutrients and energy. Hence, during the COVID-19 period, it is very important to maintain a healthy diet. Any particular food or dietary supplements can’t prevent COVID-19 infection. But, a healthy diet can help in developing immunity.
Even in those countries that have implemented lockdown and physical distancing, there has not been any shortage in food supplies. The government has kept the food supply stable with the aid of the United Nations (UN) agencies and The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). To know about what every country is doing in this regard, refer to this video link.
Even in these difficult times, people can try and consume a healthy diet. Based on the factors like culture and eating habits, diet varies from place to place. But, wherever we live, we know how to select the proper healthy diet.
Nutritional advice from FAO
Here is the list of recommendations from FAO to maintain a healthy diet:
- Consume varied foods in a single food group and among all the food groups. This will give a person the required amount of nutrients. FAO has given some guidelines about what makes an organized, healthy diet. To know your country advice, refer to this link.
- Consume lots of fruits and vegetables. We can find plenty of minerals, fibres, and vitamins in fresh fruits and vegetables to make a completely healthy diet. To avoid frequent trips to the market, you can add canned or frozen vegetables and fruits to your fresh vegetables and fruits. You can find the required vitamins and minerals in these also. However, processed and canned products contain some other ingredients also like sugar, salt, and preservatives. Check and try to get things that contain fewer amounts of these ingredients.
- Make sure to have a rich diet in unsaturated fatty acids, nuts, whole grains, and healthy fats like peanuts, olive oil and sesame. Diets of this sort help in reducing inflammation, and they boost your immune system.
- Keep track of your intake of salt, sugar and fats. Many people use overconsumption of food as a form of stress relief. Furthermore, these foods are always more delicious as they are high in fat, salt, calories and sugar. It is advisable to avoid or limit such foods in your diet. For a healthy diet, the present amount of these ingredients should be less.
- Maintain good food hygiene habit. At a time of a pandemic like COVID-19, you might be concerned about the safety of the food. But, COVID-19 is not a food-borne disease. It is a respiratory disease. Hence, there is no proof to show that the disease can spread through contact with the purchased food. But by following 5 tips we can support food safety:
- Cook thoroughly
- Make use of safe raw materials and water
- Separate the cooked and raw food
- Maintain cleanliness
- Maintain the food at a safe temperature
- Consume plenty of water. People should keep themselves hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Mostly, adults can consume 6-8 glasses of water every day. This, in turn, will help your immune system. But, don’t consume sugar syrup mixed beverages and drink plain water to avoid consuming too many calories and to keep a check on your weight gain.
- Control alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol is another way in which people try to cope with stress. Alcohol is often high in calories and rarely has any nutritional value. It is advisable to limit the consumption of alcohol as excess consumption leads to many health hazards.
Availability of food products
People get worried seeing empty shelves in the supermarket. But, it doesn’t mean that there is a shortage of food. However, there may be a block in bringing some products to the consumers. But around the world and countries, many retailers are trying to make these products available by hiring extra workers. Many workers from other tasks are organized to help with restocking. So store hours are being minimized to continue with the restock work. For more details on food supply, refer to this link.
Food can be bought online and made to be delivered at home. This is possible through big retailers and supermarkets. Community aided agriculture system is another option. Here small farmers sell their goods directly to the consumers, and it is delivered at home with the help of food boxes. This way, you can help the small farmers during this pandemic time of COVID-19.
It is always recommended not to hoard food products and waste food unnecessarily. FAO recommends some nine steps to control wastage of food in household-level:
- Smart shopping
- Keep a check on the expiry date of the food
- Share your food and help
- Ask for smaller portions
- Check the food items in the fridge
- Love your leftovers
- Change your waste into compost
- Follow the method of first-in, first-out (FIFO)
- Make a habit of buying “ugly” fruits and vegetables
Time of togetherness
During this pandemic time, many people are at home with their families and children. So, try to use of this time to develop a good diet habit that will support your health. You can download and learn about nutrition and healthy diets in the Nutrition Challenge Badge. Here is the link for more details on challenge badges.
However, in addition to a healthy diet, other critical lifestyle factors count for your healthy immune system and wellbeing. These factors are:
- Maintaining adequate sleep
- Handling stress
- Giving up smoking
- Doing regular exercise
You can fight and overcome this COVID-19 pandemic to some extent by maintaining social distance, a healthy diet, and by following a good lifestyle method.