COVID-19: Food that boosts immunity

-By SDNonline reporter-

As the scourge of the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the world, and scientists are working to produce vaccines and drugs, experts have advised that people should focus on food that would boost their immune system to withstand the infection.

At a webinar organized  by Ovie Brume Foundation, Youth Empowerment Foundation and Aliko Dangote Foundation, the nutritionists explained that balanced diet at this period would aid in reducing the malnutrition level in the country, especially among children. The webinar entitled, ‘Building Immunity through Nutrition: A Larger Picture for Preventing COVID-19 Infections’ was moderated by the Executive Director, Ovie Brume Foundation, Adeola Awogbemi.

According to Dr. F.T. Aminu, Director, Nutrition and Health, Aliko Dangote Foundation, immune system is the best medicine for now to combat the pandemic saying, “we must build our immunity through food.”

He declared that people need nutrients such as Vitamin C, E, A, D, B6, B12, zinc to keep healthy at this period. He noted that while there are supplements for the nutrients, he however maintained that they could also be gotten from food sources.

“We can get vitamin A from egg, carrot; vitamin C from orange; vitamin D from sardine, fortified milk, sunshine; vitamin E from almonds, sunflower oil, alvocado; vitamin B12/from beef, mackerel, tuber (boil tuber with the back and after cooking then peel); folic acid from lettuce, spinach, fortified bread; zinc from oyster, yoghurt, beef; copper from oyster, cashew nut; Celsius from tuna, pork, wheat bread,” he said.

Aminu admitted that in spite the pandemic, people must keep going and so, government, individuals must consider what they are feeding, noting that lack of these food or nutrients in meals, can lead to malnutrition and there will be problem to fight the infection

“If you don’t have those micro nutrient it will lead to malnutrition. Many children are now malnourished. We have to take care of them, those ones can’t survive coronavirus if they have it. We have to manage acute malnourishment in our society,” he said.

While advocating the use of safe, clean water especially in regular hand washing and drinking, Aminu said, “Food fortification is very important. Poverty along the line will make many not to have access to the micro nutrients. Beyond COVID-19, health system, market system must work together. Your safety is now your responsibility.’

Speaking on ” How to address COVID-19 at household level,”Mrs. Iwalola Akin-Jimoh, Executive Secretary, Youth Empowerment Foundation said there is no food or diet that can prevent the virus but, to improve our immunity.

While explaining that food hygiene is better controlled at the household level, she advised that people should eat at home.

“On pregnant women, research shows that the virus cannot pass from mother to child and it is not found in the breast milk. There should be exclusive breast feeding, pregnant women should go for their antenatal session. For mothers who are in isolation, NCDC has guidelines for them. For mothers who have COVID-19 and strong enough to breastfeed, they should wear PPE or facemask, express breast milk.

“Safe disposal of faeces is a very big problem in our country. Community that operates open defecations is a very huge problem,” she said.

For front-liners including health workers and carers, Akin-Jimoh advised super food for them. This include orange, green pepper, carrot, dairy products, legumes, zinc, sardines, mackerel.

On tips for good diet, she said, “eat lots of fruits and vegetables, cut on salt and sugar intake, drink water regularly, two litres of water daily,  limit consumption of alcohol, exercise regularly, reduce/manage stress and avoid food that causes allergy.”

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