How to Prevent Malnutrition During Covid-19 - GulfToday

How to Prevent Malnutrition During Covid-19

Abeer Majed Al Kusayer

Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, Al Qassimi Hospital – Ministry of Health and Prevention

Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, Al Qassimi Hospital – Ministry of Health and Prevention


Supplements help to keep the immune system strong. Photo: TNS

A balanced diet can help to ensure that the body is in the strongest possible state against the virus. Certain factors such as lifestyle, age, health status, sex, and medications influence an individual’s nutritional status. The only sustainable way to survive in the current situation is to strengthen the immune system.

For the maintenance of immune function an adequate intake of vitamins D, C, A (including β-carotene), and those of group B (particularly B6, B12 as well as folate). Zinc, copper, iron, and selenium are given similar roles as an immune-enhancing factor.

There is currently no evidence that any supplement can boost our immune system and treat or prevent any viral infections, except for vitamin C. Vitamin C is one of the major constituents of water-soluble vitamins which tends to make a strong immune system.

The daily recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C is 90mg/d for men and 75mg/d for women. In the current situation. it is necessary to be aware of the specific types of food that can improve our immune system in order to combat COVID-19. To withstand COVID-19 here are some dietary guidelines:

- Eat fruits daily (4 servings): apple, banana, strawberry, cantaloupe melon, grapefruit, pineapple, papaya, kiwi and orange.

- Eat fresh vegetables (5 servings): green bell peppers, garlic, ginger, kale, lime, broccoli, green chili pepper.

- Eat whole grains (180 g of grains): oats, wheat, millet, brown rice.

- Use nuts like almonds and pistachios.

- Red meat can be eaten once or twice per week, and poultry 2−3 times per week. Use foods from animal sources like fish, eggs, and milk.

- For snacks, choose fresh fruits and raw vegetables rather than foods that are high in sugar, salt or fat. Avoid irregular snacking.

- Do not overcook vegetables as it leads to the loss of important nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.

- When using dried or canned fruits and vegetables, choose varieties without added sugar or salt.

- Make sure the food is prepared and served at acceptable temperatures (≥72°C for 2 mins).

- Limit the salt, processed foods and restaurant meals intake.

- Consume unsaturated fats (found in avocado, fish, nuts, soy, olive oil, canola, corn oil, and sunflower) rather than saturated fats (found in butter, fatty meat, coconut and palm oils, cheese, ghee, and cream).

- Drink 8–10 glasses of water every day. It helps to transport nutrients in the blood, gets rid of waste, and regulates the body temperature.

- Avoid all fizzy, carbonated, concentrated juices, and all drinks which contain sugar.

- Maintain a healthy lifestyle of exercise, meditation, and regular sleep. Adequate sleep will help to support immune functioning.

- Eat at home to avoid contact with other people and try to reduce the chances of being exposed to people who are sick.

- Read food labels while buying packaged foods.

Related articles