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10 Tips to Eat Healthy During Quarantine or Isolation (COVID-19)

Simply put, there are no foods that will ‘boost’ our immune system and prevent or treat COVID-19. However, eating a healthy balanced diet is still essential for good health and normal immune function. Therefore, following your country’s dietary guidelines is still the recommended way to meet your nutrient needs and keep you healthy during isolation. Here we will discuss the principles of healthy eating during quarantine.

8 Tips to Eat Healthy During Quarantine or Isolation (COVID-19)

1. Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are among the most important foods for supplying the vitamins, minerals and fibre our body needs for good health and normal immune function.

We should aim to eat at least 5 portions (equivalent to around 400g) of fruits and vegetables every day. Fresh, frozen, canned, dried and juiced (maximum 1 serving per day) versions all count as a portion.

As different coloured fruits and vegetables provide different combinations of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, make sure to add variety to your daily meals where possible.


2. Choose Whole Grains Over Refined Grains

Whole grains, unlike refined grains, maintain most of the structure of the grain, keeping the layers that hold the vitamins, minerals and fibre. In addition, whole grains also provide an important source of carbohydrates which give us energy and can help us feel fuller for longer periods.


3. Replace Saturated Fats With Unsaturated Fats

Fats are an important part of a healthy diet. However, not all fats have the same effect on our health. Swapping saturated fats with unsaturated fats can help to lower our LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and reduce our risk of heart disease.1 We can do this by reducing our intake of foods such as fatty meats, high fat dairy products and tropical oils like coconut oil and adding foods such as nuts, oily fish and plant oils such as olive and rapeseed oil.

4. Limit Foods and Drinks High in Fat, Sugar and Salt

Foods and drinks high in fatsugar and salt such as cookies, potato chips, chocolate and sugary drinks, when eaten in high amounts can lead us to consume more calories than we need.  As these foods often provide little nutritional benefit, they are not needed for a healthy diet and should only be enjoyed in small amounts and eaten occasionally.

5. Control Portion Sizes

It can be difficult to get portion sizes right, especially when cooking at home. Understanding what the right portion looks like can help us stay in energy balance and avoid under- or overeating. Not all foods have the same portion sizes. See our “handy” tricks to portion sizes to get a better understanding of what a healthy portion is for different foods. Remember, children’s portions should be smaller!

6. Choose Both Animal and Plant-Based Proteins

Protein is essential for the healthy functioning of our body and immune system. We can get protein from both animal- and plant-based sources, such as beans, pulses, fish, eggs, dairy products and meats. Our protein requirement changes depending on our stage of life. Adults are recommended to eat at least 0.83 g of protein per kg body weight per day, equivalent to 58 g/day for a 70 kg adult.2 We should choose protein-rich foods that not only help us meet our needs but also support a healthy and sustainable diet.

In case of limited access to fresh meat and fish, frozen and canned versions can provide convenient and nutritious alternatives. However, as the fat and salt content can be high in some canned meats and fish it is important to check the label and choose lower fat and salt varieties. Plant-based proteins such as pulses, cereals, nuts and seeds also have a long shelf-life and can provide convenient protein-rich and nutritious meals or snacks.

7. Stay Hydrated

Keeping hydrated is essential for overall health. How much water we need depends on our age, sex, weight, height, level of physical activity and environmental conditions (i.e. hot weather will likely require you to drink more water). Considering that around 20-30% of the water we need comes from our food, the European Food Safety Authority has set average recommendations for how much water we should drink per day depending on our age (figure 6).3

If you have access to safe tap water, this is the healthiest and cheapest drink. For a refreshing boost, you can add slices of lemon, cucumber, mint or berries. Other drinks such as unsweetened coffee, sparkling water, unsweetened tea, iced tea or unsweetened infused or flavoured water are also good choices for hydration.

8. Get Your Dose of Vitamin D in Isolation

The sun is the best source of vitamin D, however, during quarantine or self-isolation it may be more difficult to get enough sun exposure to meet our needs. Therefore, it is recommended that individuals who are unable to go outside eat plenty of vitamin D rich foods (figure 7) and consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement. The recommended vitamin D intake for different age groups are:

  • 15 µg/day for adults (18+ years), children (1 – 17 years) and pregnant individuals
  • 10 µg/day for infants (7 – 11 months)
  • 10 µg/day for breastfeed infants (0 – 7 months)

If you are in self-isolation and have access to an open window, garden or balcony, then short periods (15-30 minutes) of daily sun exposure to the arms and face without sunscreen can help you meet your daily vitamin D needs. However, we should not forget that for good sun protection we should avoid unprotected sun exposure for more than 30 minutes.



Do You Have To Avoid Eating Meat To Prevent Coronavirus? Here’s What Doctors Say

Doctors say that meat need not be completely removed from the diet to prevent coronavirus, but consumption of raw meat should definitely be dodged during this time.

Coronavirus, the rapidly spreading outbreak with the disease spreading to more than sixty countries across the world, on Wednesday was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. The number of confirmed has risen to 21 after Sindh government officials recently reported 15th patient on Friday resulting in widespread panic across the country. Apart from maintaining personal hygiene and cleanliness at all times, the most common inquiry was whether or not one should consume meat during the times when coronavirus is rapidly spreading. Trends like “Stop Eating Meat” and “No Meat No Coronavirus” was also seen emerging on Twitter once such queries started doing the rounds.

Doctors say that meat need not be completely removed from the diet, but consumption of raw meat should definitely be dodged. Recent rumors of the presence of Coronavirus in goat meat has been rejected by the Livestock Department. Talking to The News on Friday, Multan region Livestock Deputy Director Dr. Mujibur Rehman said that the information going viral on social media is completely fake and absolutely incorrect. There are no signs of Coronavirus found in goat meat, mutton, beef or chicken, he clarified. The citizens could eat mutton, he told.

Currently, there is no conclusive evidence as far as meat or dairy is concerned. But, as a precaution, it is a good idea, generally also, to avoid raw meat. It is better to have cooked meat. As of now, there is no advisory that prevents you from eating any non-vegetarian food. But it should always be well-cooked food. That should be safe enough.

Both WHO and Pakistan government officials have released a series of tweets about general queries relating to Coronavirus to curb unnecessary chaos. The fact that meat-eaters and non-vegetarians are responsible for spreading Coronavirus is a complete fable and scientifically baseless. Cooked meat poses no risk to anyone, and doctors have repeated that several times to avoid spreading rumors that suggest the contrary.

According to leading nutritionists, raw meats such as raw fish that are mostly found should definitely be avoided considering the fact that it is an airborne disease and we are not sure if the birds or animals are exposed to an effected environment. But there is no harm whatsoever in consuming cooked meat. People suggesting avoiding meat entirely should know that there is no evidence supporting the same.

Ultimately, the fact remains that coronavirus is basically a respiratory virus that can spread primarily through contact with an infected person. As a preventive measure, it is okay to avoid consuming raw meat but to eliminate meat completely from the diet would be excessive.

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