Using Nutrition as a Tool to Stay Healthy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

We recently announced the launch of a brand new eBook full of tips, tools, advice, and helpful information on how…

We recently announced the launch of a brand new eBook full of tips, tools, advice, and helpful information on how to stay healthy and lower your risk of contracting COVID-19. If you haven’t downloaded the eBook yet, you can explore the preview below and then click over to request your copy of the full eBook.

With COVID-19 still disrupting daily life and routines, it’s important to focus on what you can control. You might not be able to stop your family from seeing each other and their extended family or friends, for example, but you can control whether or not they enter your home. While these are difficult decisions to make, by taking stock of what is in your control and then following through on best practices, you can lessen your exposure and lower your risk. Nutrition is just one of the many areas that you can control.

Why Food?

Food is one of the best ways to get the nutrients your body needs. If your provider has outlined a specific diet related to combating an underlying condition, follow it consistently and ask if there is anything else you should add in to boost your immunity. If you don’t have any guidelines, here are a few places to start.

  • Make fruits and vegetables a part of your daily diet. This is one of the easiest ways to get many different nutrients naturally, like Vitamin C.
  • Add in some salmon, canned tuna, and seafood for Vitamin D. A few minutes in the sunshine every day helps with this, too!
  • Get zinc naturally from lean meat, seafood, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
  • Cut out sodium by avoiding highly processed foods. Yes, they make meal prep easier, but they provide very little nutrition to your body.

Those raw veggies and beans can also serve as an excellent source of fiber and you can count on getting healthy fat with foods like avocados, fish, nuts, and seeds.

TIP: If you have to choose between buying groceries and paying your bills, contact local food banks or dial 211 from your home or mobile phone to see what help is available in your area. You can also ask friends or family if they may help you by picking up items from the grocery store so you can avoid contact with others. If no one is available to help you pick up groceries and you’re unable to do so yourself, consider a grocery delivery service. Check with your local grocery store to see if they deliver or use a service like Shipt or Amazon Prime to order groceries online and have them delivered to your home.

If you have other restrictions that prevent you from getting some of these necessary food nutrients, you can also opt for supplements, commonly referred to as vitamins, multi-vitamins, or nutraceuticals. Many people rely on supplements to boost their immunity and strength, especially with the elevated health risk of COVID-19. Though there is no real research on whether supplements can prevent and/or treat COVID-19, the Cleveland Clinic notes that it’s “biologically plausible” for some to have a positive effect on prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

If you’re new to supplements, or don’t know what may help prevent COVID-19 and/or aid in treatment, consider ascorbic acid, zinc, and vitamin D. Here’s what each do for you, according to the Cleveland Clinic:

  • Zinc plays a role in antibody and white blood cell production and can fight infection.
  • Sufficient vitamin D may decrease risk of acute respiratory infections.
  • Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, can be used to positively support the overall immune system.

Check with your provider team or community pharmacist to see whether any supplements you take could cause any kind of adverse reaction when mixed with your other medication. As a bonus, when you check in with your provider, make sure to also ask about other supplements your doctor or pharmacist may recommend specifically for you.

Another way you can take care of your nutrition is to drink enough water. Drinking water helps with digestion, keeps your joints lubricated, protects sensitive tissue, and helps maintain a normal body temperature.

Although the amount necessary varies per person, you can use the Mayo Clinic’s guidelines as a starting point:

  • About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men
  • About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women

If you’re a particularly active person, live in a hotter and more humid climate, or get sick a lot, you’ll likely need more than the recommended intake. One rule of thumb to keep in mind as you start watching your water intake is this: if you wait to drink water until you feel thirsty, you’re likely already dehydrated. Avoid this by timing your water intake. For example, set a timer to remind you to drink a glass of water every 2-3 hours throughout the day, starting when you wake up.

As you pay attention to your food, supplements, and water intake, you can rest a little easier knowing that your body is getting the nutrition it needs. But don’t stop at nutrition—you have many other opportunities to take back control and boost your immune system. Download our eBook, Wellness During COVID-19, for the full list!


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