Nutrition guidelines in the fight against covid in Ghana.
Ghana is taking robust actions to contain the spread of COVID-19, self-quarantine and the temporary closing of businesses is currently affecting normal food-related practices and dietary intake. As a country we are require to stay home to reduce the spread of the virus. Healthy individuals, as well as those showing acute respiratory disease symptoms, are being requested to stay at home. Take away foods from restaurant and access to fresh foods are limited because the food industry is equally affected.
Healthy nutrition is highly recommended in crucial times like this because strong immune system is n needed to fight infections. The country is currently facing limited access to fresh foods and even if is available, only few can have access to it due to high cost of food items. People will then resort to the consumption of highly processed foods. Highly processed foods are high in fats, sugars and salt. The good news is, one can still enjoy good and healthy meals even with little and limited ingredients. This article was put together to guide you on how to make use of the little you have while you observe the necessary protocols to protect you and your family.
Avoid panic buying and make a list ; Panic buying have got its own negative consequences like increase in food prices, overeating and an uneven distribution of foodstuffs during purchasing. Assess what you already have at home and plan your intake whiles considering your needs and that of others during before purchasing. Utilize what you have before purchasing more because some foods have shorter shelf life especially fruits and vegetables.
Strategized the use of ingredients by considering fresh products first; Fruits and vegetables have a shorter shelf life first hence it is important to use those first before the use of non-perishable food items. Frozen fruits and vegetables contains similar nutrition profile to fresh ones and be used longer periods of time. Store your fruits excess fruits and vegetables in your freezer to reduce food spoilage. Leftover foods can also be stored in the fridge and reuse to reduce food wastage
Cook your meals at home and control the portion sizes; This period offers us enough time to cook our own meals at home and that has got its own benefits as well. Cooking your own meal gives you control of the ingredients you want. You have control over the amount of salt and can give you the opportunity to reduce your salt intake, fat intake and other foods that are not favorable to your immune system. You can also try new healthy recipes by looking for the recipes online and preparing them yourself at home. Getting portion sizes right can be very difficult when preparing food from scratch. Take advantage of the period and the available resources on national food-based dietary guidelines on what constitutes healthy portions for adults and children.
Take safe food handling protocols serious; Food is healthy food when is safe for consumption. Food safety is a requirement for both food security and healthy diet. Follow good food hygiene practices to avoid food contamination and foodborne diseases during food preparation. Principles of good food hygiene include: 1. keep your hands, kitchen and utensils clean 2. Separate raw and cooked food, especially raw meat and fresh produce 3. Cook your food thoroughly 4.keep your food at safe temperatures, either below 5 °C or above 60 °C; 5.Use safe water and raw material.
Consume enough fiber: Fibre is good for the digestive system and controls overeating. Include vegetables, fruit and wholegrain foods in all meals. Wholegrains foods include oats, brown rice, wheat, millet, maize, whole-wheat bread and sorghum, rather than refined grain foods such as white rice, and white bread.
Limit your salt intake: A lot of the foods we consume on daily basis contain high levels of salt. WHO recommends consuming less than 5 g of salt per day? In order to achieve that, eat foods with reduced or no added salt. 50–75% of the salt consumption comes from the foods we eat. Reduce the addition of extra salt when cooking or eating. Try fresh or dried herbs and spices for added flavour.
Limit your sugar intake: According to WHO less than 5 %( about 6 teaspoons) of total energy intake for adults should come from free sugars. Fresh fruit should always be the priority. Frozen fruits, canned fruits in juice rather than syrup, and dried fruits with no added sugar should be the options if you are craving for sweets or desserts. When other dessert options are chosen, ensure that they are low in sugar and consume small portions. Reduce intake of added sugar or honey.
Limit your fat intake: with respect to fat intake, WHO recommends reducing total fat intake to less than 30% of total energy intake, of which about 10% should come from saturated fat. Cook foods that requires less or no fat at all such as steaming, grilling or sautéing, roasting and boiling instead of frying foods. Use olive, coconut or sunflower oil to cook the foods in moderation. Fish and nuts are rich in unsaturated fats. Trim excess fat from meat and poultry and choose skinless options. Avoid trans fats hydrogenated oils as much as possible by reducing the intake of fried foods, like doughnuts, chips and baked goods – including biscuits, pie, frozen pizzas, cookies, crackers and margarine.
Stay hydrated: Drink water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages to limit your intake of sugar and excess calories. Fresh fruits like slices of citrus fruits may be added, as well as cucumber or herbs such as mint to enhance the taste. Reduce the intake of caffeinated drinks because it affects your immune system as well.
Avoid smoking and reduce or avoid intake of alcohol: Smoking and alcohol intake weakens the immune system. They both weakens your body’s ability to cope with infectious disease which includes COVID-19. Alcohol intake and smoking in general should be avoided, especially when in self-quarantine since is a psychoactive substance. They affects your mental state and decision-making when under quarantine with someone else. It also increases depression, anxiety, fear and panic – symptoms that during isolation and self-quarantine. Alcohol makes certain medications less effective example is pain medication. Alcohol interferes with your liver functions and can cause liver failure. Alcohol is not preventive or treatment measure against COVID-19.
Spend time with the family and enjoy their company: Many families are spending more time at home, which offers new opportunities to share meals together, play games and enjoy one another’s company. Involve children in cooking healthy foods, which can be of use to them later in life. Teach children on how to observe all food safety measures. Allow the children to choose what fruits and vegetables to include in your meal may motivate them to eat them at the table.
For optimal health, it is also important to remain physically active, eat well and observe all the preventive measures available