As a person that understands the value of nutrition, I generally try to lead by example. For years I have been an advocate for healthy eating and used meaningful nutrition messages to inspire others to do the same. These messages have ranged from “choose a diet with plenty of vegetables” to “vary your vegetables.” Nutrition guidance evolves over time, but the core message remains the same, “Include a variety of nutritious foods in your diet to stay healthy.” Frontline nutrition educators around the nation often use this principle to help others understand the vital importance of good nutrition.
As COVID-19 takes the world by storm, many struggle to understand its many risk factors and why some individuals suffer more severely from the disease than others. This in part is due to aspects of our lives that we have long neglected such as long-term dietary habits. It is no secret that the average American diet is less than desirable. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) 2020-2025 Healthy Eating Index, Americans are not consuming a diet consistent with the recommendations. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports in the article on Poor Nutrition that less than 10% of adults eat adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables while their diet remains high in saturated fat, added sugar, and sodium.
As we learn more about COVID-19, we can further understand how proper nutrition helps protect the body against illness and disease. The CDC article COVID-19 and nutrition recognizes this and acknowledges that taking care of your body includes good nutrition. This is a reminder to prepare today for what you will need tomorrow. A healthy diet is important throughout your life and can have positive effects that add up over time. Nutrition is a cornerstone of good health and can help strengthen your defenses against COVID-19. Make a commitment to LIVE COVID SMART as we continue this series by exploring the vitamins and minerals needed to support good health and a healthy immune system.
The Live COVID SMART blog series was developed to promote resilience in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Contributing authors: Kim Griffin, Beth Kerr, Lori Wiggins, Marcia Brown, Heidi Radunovich, John Diaz, and LaToya J. O’Neal. This work is supported by the Rural Health and Safety Education Program [grant no. 2021-46100-35459].
U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020.
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website. Poor Nutrition. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/nutrition.htm. Accessed October 26, 2021.
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website. Food and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/food-and-COVID-19.html#nutrition. Accessed on October 26, 2021