COVID-19: Nutrition Advice for the General Public

Nutrition Advice in COVID-19

The immune system depends on both macro and micro (different) nutrients for proper functioning. These nutrients cannot be sourced from a single food rather by consuming a variety of healthy foods. A healthy diet will, therefore, strengthen the immune system and enable it to play its role of defending the body against diseases and fighting infections. Examples of these macronutrients and micronutrients include; proteins, vitamins A, B6, B12, C and D, copper, folate, iron, selenium and zinc, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, etc.

Variety is the spice of life… right?

To obtain these nutrients, food selection should be done from different food groups; these include:
1. Cereals and Grains: The foods in this group include rice, wheat, bread, pasta, hungry rice (acha), sorghum and others.
2. Roots and Tubers: Examples include yam, cassava, garri, fufu, plantain, alibo and others
3. Legumes and Nuts: Examples include beans, Bambara nut, (okpa), African yam bean (Azam or Ijiriji or Ozaki), soybeans, walnut, cashew nut, groundnut and others.
4. Meat, poultry and fish: Examples include beef, chicken, egg, fish and meat.
5. Milk and Milk products: Examples include milk, yoghurt, cheese, fura, and other milk products.
6. Fruits: Examples include banana, avocado pear, mango, watermelon, pawpaw, orange, apple, African star apple (udara or agbalumo), Velvet Tamarind (Icheku, Awin/Tsamiyar Kurm) and many more. Consume fruits at least 2 servings daily.
7. Vegetables: Examples include all leaves we use in cooking our meals, carrot, garden egg, cucumber, green beans, onions and many others. Consume at least 3 servings of vegetables daily for micronutrient supply (vitamins and minerals).
8. Water: Drink clean uncontaminated water at least 3 litres a day (that is about 6 sachets of water). Do not wait until you are thirsty.

12 Key Advice for Nutrition in COVID-19

  1. No diet can prevent or cure COVID-19 at present. An adequate diet will help support the body’s immune system.
  2. An adequate diet is obtained from a combination of different foods from which we derive the nutrients that are required for the optimum functioning of the immune system.
  3. Single food items are not adequate in all nutrients.
  4. No diet, single food or supplement can boost your immunity.
  5. No supplement is currently approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent or cure COVID-19.
  6. Wash properly and snack on fruits and vegetables especially coloured fruits in season.
  7. Drink at least 3 litres of water daily (about 6 sachets of “pure water” per day). Do not wait till you are thirsty.
  8. Do not engage in panic buying. Store essential and non-perishable food items. You can get some air-tight containers for this.
  9. Disinfect cooking area surfaces, clean and cook food properly. Separate cutting boards for raw and cooked foods (important).
  10. Sanitize and wash your hands regularly, sneeze or cough into your elbow, maintain social distance and stay at home.
  11. Consult a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist (RDN) for expert dietary advice. You can reach out to us at to book an online appointment.
  12. Get medical information, COVID-19 updates and media resources from authorized channels only via the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) minisite, Ministry of Health (MOH) and World Health Organisation (WHO).

Ref: Dietitians Association of Nigeria

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