HEALTHY EATING DURING COVID

By Nutritionist Mary Muthoni

EMAIL; marymuthoni28@gmail.com

The government of Kenya in collaboration with FAO have recommended  that  people to continue to

  1. Regularly and thoroughly wash  hands either with soap and water or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
  2. Maintain a distance of at least 1-1.5 meters between yourself and others.
  3. Stay at home as much as possible.
  4. Practice good respiratory hygiene  by covering your mouth while sneezing or coughing with a tissue or flexed elbow.
  5. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms such as fevers  , fatigue, difficulty in breathing 
  6. If going to public places such as the supermarket or travelling in public service vehicles put on a face mask and if possible avoid any cash exchange  or clean hands after handling the moneys
  7.  Eat healthy and get proper nourishment to keep your immunity strong and remain healthy.

Proper nutrition is important for proper immunity. All nutrients are important at this time. Since no specific diet has been identified to be  protective against Covid 19, it is important to ensure your health is optimized and that your immune system is boosted enough to defend you against illnesses.

A healthy diet has to be adequate in quantity and quality. This ensures  optimal growth and development of all individuals. It also supports proper body functioning physically, mentally and socially.

Below is a food pyramid that is properly expounded. Keeping a healthy dietary habit is life saving.

POINTS FROM THE FOOD PYRAMID

  • Grains  include whole grain cereals , breads , crackers and breakfast cereals. Make half of your servings to be whole grains. Eat at least 6 SERVINGS of whole grains IN A DAY . choose as follows ; 1 serving can be 1 slice of bread or 1 cup of breakfast cereal ( when i talk about a cup it is the normal 250 ml cup) or 1/2 cup of cooked rice ,cereal or pasta.
  • Eat vegetables generously.This means without limit.
  • Eat a variety of foods as each contains different minerals and vitamins.
  • Eat more dark green veggies like broccoli, spinach and other dark leafy greens.
  • Eat more orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes.
  • Focus on fruits eat two cups of fruits daily .Choose a variety and  eat one fruit at a time.
  • Go low fat when choosing milk and its products including yogurts.
  • If you do not consume milk choose lactose free products or other calcium sources such as fortified foods and beverages.
  • Go lean with protein which means eat them moderately.
  • Choose low fat or lean meats.Boil them or grill them.
  • Vary your protein routine. Choose more fish, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds.
  • Know limits with fats ,sugars and salt (sodium)
  • Make most of your fat sources from fish nuts and vegetable oils.
  • Limit solid fats like butter, margarine, as well as foods that contain these.
  • Check the nutrition facts label to keep saturated fats, trans fats and sodium low.

GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR HEALTHY EATING

  1. Eat a variety of food. To achieve this, stock adequate non-perishable foods and improve the shelf life of perishable foods. Examples of non-perishable foods include;
  • Dry grains and grain flour E.G Sorghum,Millet,Maize,Rice,Amaranth seeds and Wheat.
  • Dry legumes and pulses E.G dolicos (Njahi),Beans,Lentils,Green grams, Pigeon peas,Cow-peas,Soya beans and split peas. 
  • Nuts and seeds E.G Ground nuts, Cashew nuts , Peanuts, Pumpkin seeds,Macadamia, coconut
  • Eggs.
  • Sour milks like yogurts.
  • Long life milk.
  • Dried fruits and vegetables.
  • Dried fish like Omena and Obambla.
  • Dried meat.
NOTE; extend the shelf life of fresh foods through cooling and proper storage.
  1. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and dark green vegetables are popular and tasty. They are rich in minerals and vitamins such as beta carotene , vitamin c, vitamin D , folate , iron , vitamin B6, vitamin B12, copper , selenium and zinc.All are good for great immunity.
NOTE; Cool fresh fruits and vegetables to extend shelf life.
  1. Consume a diet rich in whole grains, nuts and other foods that are rich in healthy oils. Eat foods that are rich in healthy oils such fish, avocado, nuts and seeds. Such foods will support your immune system and help reduce illnesses. FOR THOSE WITH ALLERGIES OF FISH AND NUTS, AVOID THEM AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
ENSURE YOU STORE THE LEGUMES, GRAINS AND NUTS AWAY FROM A WARM AND MOISTURIZED ENVIRONMENT TO AVOID AFLATOXIN GROWTH. STORE IN A DRY COOL PLACE.
  1. Eat lots of pulses such as Green grams,Cow peas,Pigeon peas, Dolicos (njahi) and beans.They are a great source of plant protein, are high in fiber, low in fats and cholesterol. They are  also rich in minerals such as potassium and iron. Having a good stock of pulses  during  this time will ensure a constant source of protein.
NOTE THAT TO ENHANCE THE ABSORPTION OF IRON EAT PULSES WITH VITAMIN C RICH FOODS SUCH AS ORANGES OR LEMON.
  1. Watch your intake of Fats. Sugar, Salt, high calorie foods and processed foods. Excessive intake of these foods can lead to excessive weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure and high ‘bad’ cholesterol in our blood.
  2. Continue to practice good hygiene. Keep clean foods by washing well with clean water. Separate raw and cooked foods. Cook meats and animal products thoroughly. If you are to preheat food PLEASE let it reach its boiling point, not just warming it. Store food at appropriate temperatures to prevent growth of microorganisms. Use clean drinking water either boiled or treated with chlorine.
NOTE; STORE FOODS IN SMALL CONTAINERS TO AVOID DEFROSTING AND THAWING TOO MUCH FOOD THUS PREVENT WASTAGE OF FOOD.
  1. Drink water regularly. Limit your alcohol intake. Stay well hydrated.Drink 6-8 glasses of water per day for adults. Avoid sugar sweetened beverages or drinks such as commercially prepared juices, carbonated drinks and energy drinks. Alcoholic drinks have little nutritional value and are often high in calories. Excess consumption is linked to numerous health problems.
  2. In addition to a healthy diet, other lifestyle factors are critical part of maintaining well being and a healthy immune system. This include
  3. NO SMOKING.
  4. Exercise regularly.
  5. Getting adequate sleep.
  6. Minimizing and coping with stress appropriately.
HEALTHY EATING HABITS ARE LIFE SAVING

REFERENCES

  1. The ESPEN guidelines on parenteral nutrition ; adult renal failure
  2. Kraus ; food and nutrition therapy 12th edition
  3. U.S department of agriculture center for nutrition policy and promotion

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