5 Foods That Help Fight Covid-19

Food set out on a table.

Food set out on a table.

As Covid-19 spread to several counties in the country, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with organisations including the World Health Organization (WHO) published recommendations on the best nutrition practices for various demographics to boost immunity.

As revealed in the guidelines, the importance of eating a healthy, balanced diet as the virus continues to spread cannot be overstated.

The guidelines broke down recommended nutrition practices for different groups in society including pregnant or breast-feeding women, infants and young children as well as the general public.

In this article, TMZ.co.ke takes you through the recommendations on the best nutrition practices during Covid-19.

Food items on display at a supermarket.
Food items on display at a supermarket.

Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women

According to the Ministry of Health, meals for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers need to comprise at least five of 10 food groups daily to guarantee their optimal nutrition and that of the baby.

The 10 food groups are; grains including roots, tubers and other starchy foods, pulses (beans, peas and lentils), nuts and seeds, dairy meat, poultry and fish, eggs, dark green leafy vegetables, other vitamin A-rich fruits and vegetables, other vegetables and other fruits.

Foods that are rich in Vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale (sukuma wiki) and collard greens.

Pregnant and breast-feeding mothers were also advised to maintain a healthy diet including one extra small meal for pregnant women and two extra small meals for breastfeeding mothers.

Babies Below 6 Months of Age

Babies aged below six months should only be given breast milk to help them stay healthy and grow well.

Breast-feeding should begin within one hour of birth as the ‘first milk’ includes colostrum with high levels of antibodies that protect the baby from various infections in addition to helping solidify the bond between the new-born and the mother.

Breast-feeding should also be done frequently, with the Ministry of Health recommending it be done 10 to 12 times within a 24-hour period.

Children 6-23 Months or Older

For children aged between six to 23 months or older, it is crucial to compliment breast-feeding with additional complementary feeding.

To stay healthy, it is recommended that children eat a variety of foods every day, at least four different foods from different food groups.

The food groups are; grain, grain products and other starchy foods (e.g. maize, potatoes, rice), legumes, nuts and seeds (e.g. beans, peanuts, simsim), eggs, dairy and dairy products (e.g. milk, maziwa lala, yoghurt), animal or flesh foods (e.g beef, chicken, fish) and Vitamin A-rich fruits and vegetables (e.g mangoe, pawpaw, terere, spinach, managu), other fruits & vegetables (e.g avocado, banana, orange, among others).

It is also crucial to observe proper hygiene practices in the preparation and handling of food.

All Other People (General Population)

For the general public, it is important to maintain a healthy diet by consuming foods from at least four to five food groups daily.

The food groups include grains and grain products and all other starch foods such as maize/wheat flour, rice, sweet potato, cassava and bananas.

Another important food group is legumes and pulses, nuts and seeds. The general public was advised to alternate between peas, lentils, cow-peas, pigeon peas, soya, nuts edible seeds and lean meat, fish/seafood and poultry in their daily meals. Also remember to vary within the sources such as peas and beans.

The third food group is milk and milk products. Kenyans were advised to consume fresh milk, sour milk or yogurt daily.

Vegetables are an important food group as well. It is recommended that Kenyans alternate between dark green leafy vegetables such as managutereresaga, spinach and kale and vegetables that are yellow or orange that give vitamin A for immunity such as carrots and pumpkins.

The fifth food group is fruits. The public was advised to consume plenty of fruits daily.

Alternate between yellow or orange fruits such as mangoes, pawpaws which contain vitamin A for immunity, citrous fruits such as oranges, lemons that are rich in vitamin C for immunity and quick healing and and other fruits like passions, melons and pineapples.

Kenyans were also advised to avoid consuming highly refined and processed foods that cause inflammation such as highly processed cereals, processed meats (such as sausages and smokies), deep-fried foods, sugar-sweetened drinks, trans fats and sweets.

Food items on display at a market.
Food items on display at a market.
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