There’s an age-old proverb that states, “You are what you eat.”
The notion is that we need to eat good, nutritional food in order to remain healthy and fit.
Easier said than done as the Covid-19 Pandemic, which began in late 2019, now stretches well into its second year.
A recent joint White Paper issued by the World Health Organization identifies several factors that have negatively impacted nutritional health in the United States and globally.
Among them are disruptions to employment resulting in the inability of many families to purchase food; breakdowns in food delivery systems; and lack of available food high in nutritional value.
Dr. Ted Schuck, Chief Medical Officer at Brevard Health Alliance, indicates those factors and more, pose significant nutritional problems for the general population even beyond Covid-19 itself.
“Multiple published studies have found that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to increased health risks outside of the Covid-19 virus/infection alone. One of the sources for this increased risk is limitation in healthy food products available. Foods with a short shelf-life are often the healthiest items, such as vegetables, fruits, chicken and fish.”
Like many consumers, the Family Medicine Specialist said we are all likely to be greeted by “out of stock” signs in grocery stores or even empty shelves with few nutritional options. He suggests those limitations have increased the amount of home-delivery options families have chosen, noting delivered food often lacks the freshness or nutritional quality of home-prepared meals.
Schuck added that food costs and availability leave certain populations more vulnerable to both short and long-term health issues directly associated with a dietary decrease in nutritional value.
“Clinically speaking, those families and patients in lower socio-economic situations are more susceptible to Covid-19 infection (as well as other disease states). Most of these groups lack the resources and education available in order to have access to healthy food choices.
“They are also more susceptible to chronic disease states including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression all of which can decrease a healthy immune response.”
Schuck said nutrition is a cornerstone in limiting the impact of Covid-19 on general overall health.
“Nutrition, good sleep, low stress levels, normal BMI and many health variables play a major role in supporting your immune health,” he explained.
“When one of these variables isn’t supported, you are much more susceptible in acquiring a transmissible pathogen, such as Covid-19. You can also be at a higher risk in developing complications from infection.
“Clinically speaking, one of the biggest risk factors for developing complications from Covid-19 is obesity. I often tell my patients and families that social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation and that it is important to pursue healthy lifestyles, including following healthy diet patterns.”
For additional tips on addressing the nutritional needs of your family in support of good physical and mental health, Brevard Health Alliance invites to you explore suggestions from the Minnesota Department of Health.
This link offers tips on a number of topics including: Healthy Eating During the Covid-19 Pandemic; Safe Grocery Shopping-Resources to Help You Find Food; Healthy Eating for the Whole Family; Staying Safe While Shopping at Farmers Markets.