Global Health Series – Part 4: COVID-19 and Nutrition

Nutrition is a well-known key determinant of health playing a vital role in prevention and treatment of both chronic non-communicable diseases and infectious diseases. Emerging evidence has associated negative outcomes in older, comorbid and obese patients, indirectly highlighting the relevance of diet and its influence on outcomes.

So, what should I eat?

The UK Association of Dieticians encourages maintenance of a healthy and varied diet, consisting of immune-supporting vitamins and minerals, indicating that no one micronutrient, nor food will provide protection from the virus. More importantly, supplements cannot substitute a healthy diet and therefore, despite tempting, should not be stocked up on in an attempt to prevent or treat viral infections. The only supplement currently recommended by Public Health England is Vitamin D, generally produced by our skin in summertime or present in oily fish and fortified foods, if having to spend time indoors due to quarantine or isolation.

WHO supports this advice indicating nutrition and hydration as vital in ensuring your immune system is able to work at optimum, lowering your risk of serious illness. Eating fresh and unprocessed foods encouraging reduced salt and sugar intake, alongside sufficient amounts of water (~1/2L/15kg body weight) places your immune system in the best position both short term and long term for protection against disease.

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