What defines healthy diet against COVID infection; What to eat, what to skip?

May 19 2021 01:09 PM
What defines healthy diet against COVID infection; What to eat, what to skip?

The COVID-19 pandemic is almost 17 months old now, and though vaccines have been around for a few months now, a larger part of the world is unvaccinated. The novel coronavirus contagion is still wreaking havoc across the globe and India has really struggled through the Second Wave.

Hospitals and doctors are fewer in numbers than required to handle such a huge deluge. At 1.4 billion, India is nearly four times the population of Europe (446 million) or the US (328 million).

Patients in home-quarantine in India often wonder what they can eat, what would be the wise thing to eat? The concern is that while feeding ourselves, we must not end up feeding the virus as well.

We take inspiration from an internet post by the WHO/Europe that has some rather useful tips and suggestions on what to eat and what to avoid during a COVID-19 infection.

Make a plan and buy/order only what you need: No panic buying. Assess what you already have at home and plan your intake. This way you can avoid food waste and allow others to access the food they need.

Be strategic about the use of ingredients: Prioritise the consumption of fresh products, use fresh ingredients and those that have a shorter shelf life first. If fresh products, especially fruits, vegetables and reduced-fat dairy products continue to be available, prioritise these over non-perishables.

Prepare home-cooked meals: If you are not run down by fever or other COVID-19 issues, it is better to prepare nutritious meals for yourselves at home. Some examples of healthy recipes with accessible ingredients may also be found below.

If your city or town has the option of “contact-less” home-delivery of food where no human interaction is required, thus supporting self-quarantine and isolation measures, use that. But prioritize the items from reliable businesses that you are sure to follow strict food hygiene requirements.

Be aware of portion sizes: Being at home for extended periods, especially without company or with limited activities can also lead to overeating.

Limit your salt intake: If you use canned, frozen or processed foods, remember they can contain high levels of salt. Go easy on use of salt when cooking and when at the table for meals. Use fresh or dried herbs and spices for added flavour instead.

Cut back if you use excess fats. Fats, contrary to popular belief aren’t all bad. Too much fat can cause multiple health issues like obesity, heart disease, fatty livers, etc. But the body needs a small number of healthy fats to ensure proper nutrition. Our heart also needs a bit of fat to run smoothly.

Stay hydrated: Whether you need water to stay cool, or to flush out harmful chemicals of drugs or metabolic processes out of your body, drinking adequate water is important for you.

Eat fresh fruits and vegetables: Every day, eat a mix of whole grains like wheat, maize and rice, legumes like lentils and beans, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, with some foods from animal sources (e.g. meat, fish, eggs and milk).

Consume enough fibre: Fibre contributes to a healthy digestive system and offers a prolonged feeling of fullness, which helps prevent overeating. Eat salads, vegetables, fruit, pulses and wholegrain foods in all meals. Eat dry fruits, eggs to enhance other nutrients-intake. Proteins will help you fight COVID better.

Avoid alcohol intake till the doctor gives a nod: Alcohol is not a part of a healthy diet. Drinking alcohol does not protect against COVID-19 and can be dangerous. It also weakens the immune system, its heavy use undermines your body’s ability to cope with infectious disease, including COVID-19.

Recipes you will love to cook:

We share here the recipes the WHO/Europe page shares for the benefit of those battling COVID who can eat a menu cooked with these ingredients without fear of messing with their health unless warned otherwise by their doctors.

All recipes below: Courtesy The WHO/Europe

Chickpea and mushroom patties | serves 8 portions

Chickpea Chickpea and mushroom patties

Ingredients:

80 g fresh or canned mushrooms, sliced or coarsely chopped

80 g onion, coarsely chopped

20 g garlic, chopped

Oil, preferably rapeseed, olive or sunflower

250 g canned chickpeas

10 g fresh parsley or 3 g dried

10 g mustard

40 g ground flaxseeds, 60 g of whole grain flour, or 2 whole eggs

Pepper

30 g breadcrumbs

Method:

In a frying pan, sauté the mushrooms, onion and garlic in a small amount of oil. Season with a small amount of salt and heat or cook until the mushrooms are tender and lose water.

In a food processor or blender, blend the chickpeas into a paste.

Add the prepared mushrooms, parsley, mustard and blend again.

A little at a time, add the flaxseeds, flour or eggs, and blend again, adding until the ingredients bind together well and can be easily shaped.

Add pepper to taste.

Shape the mixture into balls, coat them in breadcrumbs and flatten them to form patties.

Preheat the oven to 200 ºC and place the patties in a tray lined with parchment paper.

Bake until lightly browned on the outside.

If you prefer or do not have access to an oven, you can cook them in a non-stick frying pan with a little oil.

You may assemble the patties in a burger with whole grain bread, lettuce and tomato, or accompany them with wholegrain rice or baked potatoes and salad or vegetables.

Green pea stew | serves 4 portions

Green pea stew WHO EUROPE

Ingredients:

2 ripe tomatoes or 250 g canned tomatoes

1 garlic clove

1 carrot

Oil, preferably rapeseed, olive or sunflower

2 small bunches of coriander (chopped) or 5 g dried coriander leaves

200 g canned green peas

400 g canned black beans (or other beans)

Sweet paprika and dried basil

4 eggs (optional)

Method:

Skin and chop the tomato, crush the garlic and cut the carrot into thin slices.

Add a drizzle of oil in a saucepan and sauté the tomatoes and garlic; add 1 bunch of chopped coriander and the carrot and cook until soft.

Add the peas and black beans to the saucepan, along with 1 cup of water and season with paprika and dried basil. Cover with a lid and cook for 8 minutes.

Add the eggs, if you choose to use them, then cook for about 10–15 minutes more.

Add the remaining chopped coriander, if you are using it. You may serve this with rice and salad.

Sauteed pasta with vegetables and canned tuna | serves 6 portions

Sauteed pasta with vegetables and canned tuna

Ingredients:

400 g whole grain pasta

50 ml oil, preferably rapeseed, olive or sunflower

200 g broccoli, fresh or frozen

150 g onion, thinly sliced

30 g chopped garlic

80 g celery, thinly sliced (optional)

10 g dried thyme (optional)

200 g carrots, grated or cut in thin slices

150 g diced fresh tomatoes or 100 g canned tomatoes

300 g canned tuna

Spices and pepper

Soy sauce, preferably low sodium (optional)

30 g fresh basil or 5 g dried (optional)

Method:

In a pot with plenty of water, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Try to avoid overcooking, to keep the nutritional properties and texture of the pasta. Cool the pasta under running water, drizzle with some oil and set aside.

Cook the broccoli in boiling water for 8 minutes (or 10 minutes for frozen broccoli), drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, sauté the onion, garlic and celery with a drizzle of oil for 5–8 minutes over medium heat. Add the dried thyme and carrot and cook for another 5 minutes over medium heat. Then add the tomato and tuna. Stir the sauce and let it cook for another 10 minutes, tasting and refining the flavours with herbs and spices if needed.

Add the pasta and broccoli to the sauce and stir until hot. Flavour with a small amount of low-sodium soy sauce if desired and serve with finely chopped basil.

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.

 

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