- WHO has issued nutrition advice for adults during the COVID-19 outbreak
- It has advised to avoid overcooking food as it destroys vital nutrients
- Choose fresh fruits instead of sweet snacks such as cookies, says WHO
New Delhi: As people across the world wade through these unprecedented times, there are concerns emerging about what one should eat and how to prepare food to maximize the intake of vital vitamins, proteins, anti-oxidants and other micro-nutrients in order to boost one’s immunity. In the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently released a document on nutrition advice for adults during these times. The advisory highlights the importance of a balanced diet and personal hygiene will cooking and having food and also provides tips on increasing daily nutrient intake.
COVID-19 Outbreak: WHO’s Nutrition Advice For Adults
According to WHO, a balanced diet and hydration are vital. It advises eating fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, unsaturated fats found in fish, avocado, coconut oils, and whole grains like unprocessed wheat, maize, millet, oats, brown rice and foods from animal sources like meat, fish, eggs and milk. It recommends eating two cups of fruits, 2.5 cups of vegetable, 180 grams of grains and 160 grams of meat and beans. It further says that red meat can be eaten 1-2 times per week and poultry meat can be consumed 2-3 times per week. It recommends choosing white meat (like poultry) and fish, which are generally, low in fat, rather than red meat. It also asks people to consume low-fat milk and dairy products.
WHO advises people not to overcook vegetables and fruit as this can lead to the loss of important vitamins. It recommends using only those canned or dried vegetables and fruits that do not have salt and sugar added to it. It further recommends avoiding industrially produced foods as those are high in transfats. When cooking and preparing food, limit the amount of salt and high-sodium condiments and limit daily salt intake to less than 5 grams and use only iodized salt, says WHO.
In its advisory, WHO highlighted that water helps in transporting nutrients in the blood, regulates body temperature, gets rid of waste and lubricates joints. Therefore it recommends at least 8-10 cups of water every day.
According to Dr. Jagmeet Madan, National President Of Indian Dietetic Association, there is a lack of concrete evidence regarding specific dietary factors that can reduce risk of COVID-19, but it is a known fact that a healthy immune system plays a vital role in defending our body against diseases. She recommends taking a food-based approach for prevention from COVID-19 along with measures like social distancing and following public health advisories.
Appreciating the tips provided in WHO’s advice document, Dr. Madan said that one can ensure optimal intake of vitamins and minerals if one follows the recent advisory of WHO on nutrition. She added,
For fighting any kind of infection, it is important to build immunity. Micronutrients- vitamins and minerals are essential for optimal health and well-being. Micronutrients, particularly vitamins A, C, D, E, B2, B6, B12 and folic acid and minerals such as iron, selenium, zinc, magnesium and copper play an important role in ensuring the immune system can function properly.
Dr. Madan asserted that while there is no evidence as of now of contracting COVID-19 from touching food or food packaging that may have been exposed to the virus through an infected person, but the coronavirus causing COVID-19 can survive on surfaces and objects for a certain amount of time. Therefore, WHO strongly recommends cooking at home.
WHO says that washing hands regularly is extremely important, especially after touching frequently handled objects such as doorknobs or handles. It says that the food must be touched with absolutely clean hands.