Now more than ever you should make sure your body has the best fighting chance possible, and that means you should pay especially close attention to what you put into it and focus on your health during the COVID-19 crisis. Your body needs the right fuel to stay healthy, including a well-balanced diet and drinking plenty of fluids.
The World Health Organization recommends that you eat a variety of fresh and unprocessed foods every day to get the vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, protein and antioxidants your body needs. Drink enough water. Avoid sugar, fat and salt to significantly lower your risk of gaining weight, obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain types of cancer.
To keep your body in good health and best able to fend off disease, the WHO recommends that you:
Eat fresh and unprocessed foods daily
Eat fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans and lentils), nuts and whole grains (oats, wheat, brown rice or potato, sweet potatoes, taro or cassava), and animal protein (meat, fish, eggs and milk).
For snacks, skip the chips or ice cream and opt for raw vegetables and fresh fruit.
When cooking with vegetables, don’t overcook them as it depletes their vitamins. Choose steaming over boiling as it retains vitamins as well. When you are done preparing them, they should still have some crunch to them.
Water is essential for life. It transports nutrients and compounds in blood, regulates your body temperature, gets rid of waste, and lubricates and cushions joints.
Drink eight to 10 cups of water every day.
Try to stick with water rather than sodas, coffee or alcohol. Fruit juice is okay, but can also be high in sugar. Tea, coffee or alcohol are all diuretics, which make the body loose fluids by making you go to the toilet more.
Sodas are usually high in simple sugars with zero nutritional value. And they often have caffeine in them, like tea or coffee.
Water is best as it has no calories.
Eat moderate amounts of fat and oil
Consume unsaturated fats (fish, avocado, nuts, olive oil, soy, canola, sunflower and corn oils) rather than saturated fats (from fatty meats, butter, palm and coconut oils, cream and cheese).
When eating meat, choose white meat, like chicken, turkey or fish, which are generally lower in fat than red meat.
Avoid processed meats because they are high in fat and salt.
Choose low-fat or reduced-fat milk and dairy products.
Stay away from industrially produced trans fats. These are common in processed food, fast food, chips, fried foods, frozen pizzas, pies, cookies, margarines and spreads.
Consume less salt and sugar
When cooking, limit the amount of salt, soy sauce or other high-salt condiments.
Limit your daily salt intake to less than 5 grams (approximately one teaspoon) and use iodized salt. Avoid foods (e.g. snacks) that are high in salt and sugar.
Also limit your intake of soft drinks or sodas and other drinks that are high in sugar, including fruit juices, fruit-juice concentrates and smoothies.
Eat fresh fruit rather than sugary snacks like cookies, cakes, muffins, candy or chocolate.
Eat home-cooked meals
Eating at home reduces your rate of contact with other people and lowers your chance of being exposed to COVID-19. Home-cooked meals can also be much more wholesome than ready-cooked food.
If you do order delivery food, many services are moving to contactless drop-offs or encouraging customers to take advantage of drop-off instructions to minimize the chance of spreading the virus.
Seek out counseling if needed
While proper nutrition and hydration improve health and immunity, we also need to focus on our mental and emotional health.
People living with chronic illnesses who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 may need support with their mental health and diet to ensure they keep in good health. Also, if you are worried about bills and finances, taking care of the family or any other stresses, you are not alone and there is help available.
Seek counseling and psychosocial support from appropriately trained health care professionals, or from community-based lay and peer counselors.