Science Says Sunday – COVID-19 Nutrition

And…I’m back! Took a nice two week break from writing the blog to focus on some other things, but I’m officially back! As such, and because I’ve been experimenting with some cooking lately, I thought I would share a little bit about COVID-19 nutrition, because we’ve all been doing a whole lotta eating at home lately…at least I know I have!

The Centers for Disease Control has a great page on ‘Food and COVID-19‘ that I reviewed for today’s post. The main takeaways are (for those tl;dr folks):

  • There is no evidence to suggest that handling food or consuming food is associated with COVID-19 (aka takeout/delivery is safe to pick up and consume at home). Just remember wash your hands thoroughly and for 20 seconds before eating.
  • The risk of getting COVID-19 from food, treated drinking water, or food packaging is very low. Don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly and for 20 seconds before eating.
  • You should NOT use disinfectants designed for hard surfaces, such as bleach or ammonia, on food packaged in cardboard or plastic wrap. Also, don’t drink bleach or any other non-food/drink. Yikes.
  • To help cope with stress that may be related to the pandemic, take care of your body including good nutrition, as part of self-care.
  • Most importantly, dietary supplements aren’t meant to treat or prevent COVID-19. Certain vitamins and minerals (e.g., Vitamins C and D, zinc) may have effects on how our immune system works to fight off infections, as well as inflammation and swelling.
    • The best way to obtain these nutrients is through foods: Vitamin C in fruits and vegetables, Vitamin D in low-fat milk, fortified milk alternatives, and seafood, and zinc in lean meat, seafood, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
    • In some cases, dietary supplements may have unwanted effects, especially if taken in too large amounts, before surgery, or with other dietary supplements or medicines, or if you have certain health conditions.
    • If you are considering taking vitamins or dietary supplements, talk with your pharmacist, registered dietitian, or other healthcare provider before taking, especially when combining or substituting them with other foods or medicine.

There may be a lot of people out there pushing you to buy supplements and other things during this time, but rest assured that the best way to get the best nutrition and dietary nutrients your body may need is through eating well-balanced, nutritious meals! So stay away from people tryna sell you bottles of “covid-prevention liquids, pills, or mixtures” and run to the grocery store and stock up on veggies and fruits instead. Might be cheaper too! If you do decide to take supplements like Vitamin D, for example, make sure you consult with a physician or registered dietician to determine what you need and what specific dose you need.

Some of you have asked me about edelberry. While this has not been studied in the context of COVID-19 specifically, the best advice I found was from the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine at The University of Arizona. Some evidence suggests it may ‘help boost immunity’ and possibly lengthen the duration of flu symptoms for example, though this evidence has not been rigorously tested (eg, unknown whether people who take edelberry are more likely to be healthier, younger, etc in general, or, if there is some placebo effect at play. That aside, what is cautioned with respect to edelberry is its potential contribution to the ‘cytokine storm’ we are seeing in some COVID-19 patients. The site states, “For this reason, to minimize the possibility that elderberry could aggravate the inflammatory “cytokine storm” associated with the more severe COVID-19 infections, it is recommended to stop elderberry at the first signs of infection (fever, cough, sore throat) and/or if you test positive for the virus.” Because you can test positive and NOT have any or only mild symptoms, it might be advisable to lay off the eldeberry juice or gummies.

Taking all that into consideration, we have cooked at home a lot lately, and today, sharing this salad, as it is one of my absolute favorites. You can make it with any combination or raw veggies, really, but the key if using kale, is to massage the kale with olive oil to soften it, and then squeeze some lemon over the entire salad. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on it, and voila! You have a healthy, nutrient packed salad!

Here’s another salad I love, and one that my mom has made for years. Use as a garnish, or eat alone. Made out of cactus and what is best known as ‘pico de gallo’!

I’ve also engaged the kids in cooking a lot lately. In fact, I have found that if the kids are involved, they take sooooo much pride in their cooking, that that they are more likely to eat it, especially if it’s something new like kale.

Anyway! So, after all that you want to know how to prevent getting sick with COVID-19?

  1. Wash your hands
  2. Watch your distance (stay 6 feet away from others)
  3. Wear your mask
  4. Avoid Crowded spaces
  5. Avoid Close Contact with others
  6. Avoid Closed spaces (indoors is worse than outdoors)

Six easy things, and they don’t cost you any money! Except of course unless you don’t already have a mask. Here are some you can buy if you still don’t have any at home. Oh yeah, and eat those healthy meals as much as possible. I won’t be mad at ya if you throw some fries on the side though, because honestly, that’s how I roll. It’s called balance. 😀

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