Good Nutrition, A Defense Against The Novel Coronavirus
The human body is the product of what it consumes. Food plays a major role in maintaining a healthy and stunning body. It influences the wellbeing of a person to the extent that it contributes to the functioning of every organ of the human body. Food is a necessity and helps in bodybuilding, enhance immune system and maintenance of tissues and cells.
Good nutrition is a process and practice of preparing diet(food) with the required nutrients for the health and wellbeing of the human body. This is a key factor in the health and wellbeing of society. When a society is conscious of its food consumption pattern and health benefits of what it consumes, the public health can be controlled and diseases can be minimized at the national level. Good nutrition is practices that involve preparing and eating food at stipulated and regulated measures based on body needs and health conditions.
Remember, foods contain various chemical and biological materials that are supplied to the body for repair, maintenance, development, and defense against diseases and unfavorable body conditions. Therefore, our consumption should be based upon what we need in a particular condition. For instance, during this coronavirus pandemic, we are to consume specific kinds of food that contain nutrients that suppress or fight against all respiratory diseases related to coronavirus.
As we take on the physical preventive measures against COVID-19, another measure we must emphasize on is good nutrition. We must educate our people on what to eat in this time and condition. Guiding our people on what to eat and the health benefits of it in the fight against the coronavirus should be an initiative that all food experts must be involved with now as a way of building a defense against the virus. Public education on food will influence greatly the consumption pattern and directly impact the fight against the virus. According to health experts, a poor immune system makes one susceptible to the virus as any contact with the virus will cause a fast collapse of the body and non-responsive condition to treatment. Poor nutrition is a serious threat to the fight against the pandemic. In the fight, we must incorporate nutrition education as a tool to undermine the strength of the virus against humans.
There is experts caution on the consumption of food at a level refer to as “balanced diet” or controlled consumption. If you want to be well and wholesome, you have to know what you eat and when you eat them taking into consideration quantity and quality. When we say know, it means knowing the nutritious content as well as the health benefits of the food kind. According to experts, if people do not have the right balance of nutrients in their diet, their risk of developing certain conditions increases. For instance, obesity is increasing in Liberia which derived from our daily diets. We have a female prevalence of obesity at 14.2 percent and the male obesity rate at 5.5 percent (2010). Globally, 1.9 billion adults are overweight and 600 million are obese. It is so essential to practice good nutrition to prevent these conditions of overweight, obesity, stunting, undernutrition, and malnutrition conditions.
According to the Comprehensive Food Security and Nutrition Survey (CFSN) 2018 report, the overall consumption levels of most Liberian households have acceptable diet consumption. It recorded that most households consume the three macro and micronutrients -protein, vitamin A and heme ion (food consumption data). However, it reports that a certain portion of the population is struggling to consume food with the required nutrients. Lofa, rural Montserrado, and Rivercess are the least in terms of consuming food without required nutrients with 13, 10, and 14 percent respectively. Even at this point, there is still a need to provide public education on what kinds of food contribute to the health and wellbeing of a person in this critical health crisis.
According to World Health Organization, nutrition is a critical part of the health and development of humans because better nutrition is related to improved infant, child and maternal health, stronger immune system, safer pregnancy, and childbirth as well as a lower risk of non-communicable diseases and longevity. This shows how nutrition plays a pivotal role in maintaining public health and wellbeing. Good nutrition builds a strong immune system. According to medical experts, a strong immune system is a key factor in having recovery from coronavirus. As we go about observing the various physical and medical measures, we must observe our nutrition measures. Smart nutrition and food choices can help prevent diseases. Here are some nutrition measures we must follow to remain safe and strong as far as the immune system is a concern:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Vegetables and fruits contain a lot of minerals and vitamins required for the body defense system. Taking a daily diet of it will make our body resistant to symptoms and diseases related to COVID-19. For example taking in diets such as citrus fruits (oranges, lime), almond, broccoli, garlic, spinach, ginger, red peppers, and berries. These are not curing but helps in building a strong defense system against diseases related to COVID-19 signs and symptoms.
- Limit foods that are high in fats, sugar, and salt. Consuming meals with too much of fats, sugar, and salt exposes your body to health conditions that reduce the strength of your body to fight diseases.
- Eat a small portion. Especially with the virus containment measures of lockdown and stay home, it is very important to regulate your food intake. During lockdown and stay home, the human body does not do much physical activity, therefore the intake of more food which translates into unused energy is against good health. You can eat a small portion at times and keep some while you get involved with other destressing and physical exercises.
- Limit alcohol consumption. Alcoholic beverages play some role helpful to the body but it has some negative medical effects on the body defense system. Limiting it will help in keeping you safe and strong.
- Stay hydrated. An average adult should take 2 liters of water daily. However, our water need depends on age, sex, weight, height, level of physical capacity, and environmental conditions. Also, 20-30% of the water we consume comes from our food. It is a necessity to stay hydrated and remain as it helps the defense system in combating disease. Coronavirus is a respiratory disease and is hosted in the throat. Taking in a lot of water will suppress it and push it from its host (throat) down to the stomach where it may not survive.
At this point, we must fight the virus at all fronts using all relevant tools available. Good nutrition is a tool that we must educate our people about and direct them in making conscious food choices that support them in withstanding the assault of the virus. The Health Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry must take the lead at this time to provide platforms where the public can be educated on food science, good food choices, and nutrition-sensitive food practices. Using the radio, newspaper, and television to disseminate those pieces of information will play a major role in the fight against COVID-19. Moreover, using local and community-based organizations to reach out to the communities with these messages will serve a greater good. We must fight with natural tools too. It’s nutrition. Indeed, good nutrition, a defense against the novel Coronavirus.
About the Author
JONATHAN S. STEWART
He is an agriculturalist and program management professional and has over ten years of experience in youth development and agriculture programs. Currently, Jonathan is the Lead Campaigner for Agro Tech Liberia; a youth-based non-governmental agriculture band environmental organization where he seeks to attract youth to agriculture and agribusiness in order to reduce youth unemployment and poverty. He volunteers with several youth development initiatives as a mentor in peacebuilding, agripreneurship, a sustainable environment, and educational activities. Jonathan is a Green Activist who promotes and campaign for a green environment by creating awareness on plastic waste management and climate-smart practices in Liberia. He was nominated in the Green Award in Nigeria and has participated in many agriculture, environmental and climate change initiatives globally. He is a Climate Activist and a trainer for Climate-Smart Agriculture in Liberia.