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KATHMANDU: The Ministry of Health and Population has released an interim guideline on nutrition for people infected with COVID-19. Stating that the nutritional status has a direct relation with the risk of COVID-19 and the infection rate and fatalities, the guideline mentions about the importance of nutrition for people infected with the novel coronavirus.
The guideline mentions that nutrition has a big role in containing the spread and infection rate of the virus as proper nutrition boosts the immune system as well as reduces the severity of infections and hospital stays. It further mentions that nutrition can be managed for an infected person by simply modifying the normal diet a little bit.
As per the ministry, the guideline is useful in managing nutrition for all including those infected with COVID-19 who are staying in home isolation, who do not have any symptoms, hospitalized patients, or those suffering from chronic diseases and health complications. It also recommends nutrition practices for those who have not been infected.
The guideline also provides names of various foods to maintain the nutrition of people based on various age groups and different diseases. It stresses on paying special attention on a healthy lifestyle and proper diet for people who are over 60 years old as they are more prone to be infected and die due to COVID-19 than people in lower age groups.
People over 60 years are at higher risk due to the mental, physical and metabolic changes which cause them to lose their appetite, nutrition and immunity. Here are a few recommendations for people over 60 years who have been infected by the virus but do not suffer from other chronic diseases:
1. Foods having carbohydrate sources like flour, millet, sorghum, rice and yam should be taken on a daily basis in proper proportion.
2. Protein-rich foods which increase immunity as well as build muscle in the body such as eggs, fish, meat, pulses, nuts, cheese and tofu should be consumed daily. 3. Sprouted beans that contain micronutrients such as iron, vitamin C, fiber and other beneficial elements to be taken regularly. 4. Fermented foods like yogurt, mohi, gundruk, sinki, soya chunks, kinema, etc that are rich in micronutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, probiotics and antioxidants, among others to be consumed on a daily basis. 5. Eat plenty of seasonal green vegetables and fruits on a daily basis. 6. Drink at least two liters of water every day. 7. Drink turmeric water or milk with a mixture of turmeric in the morning and evening. 8. Soft and tender food items like khichdi, lito, etc are also recommended in case a person has trouble chewing. 9. As one may lose interest in food at this age, small amounts of food should be eaten at least four to six times a day. 10. Since bones can become brittle by the age of 60, regular intake of calcium enriched foods such as milk and other dairy products need to be consumed regularly. 11. Plenty of nutritious foods should be consumed to boost immunity. Nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc are considered good nutrients to increase immunity. Vitamin A is found in meat, egg yolks, fish, ghee, milk, ripe nuts, orange peel, carrots, green vegetables and yellow fruits, among others. Likewise, citrus food like lemon, orange and seasonal fruits and green vegetables like spinach are rich in vitamin C. The sources of vitamin E are oily grains like cashews, almonds, okra, ghee, avocado, lazy, fish and green vegetables. The sources of zinc are nuts including, cashews, almonds, walnut and also dairy products and red meat.
12. Practice yoga, dance and exercise for at least 30 minutes every day and also stay stress-free. 13. Don’t eat food that contains high amount of salt or sugar. 14. Do not eat canned food that has been preserved for a long time.
15. Avoid carbonated beverages. 16. Don’t eat greasy, starchy foods. 17. Don’t smoke or drink alcohol.
In case the patient requires ICU or ventilator facility they are recommended to consult their personal caretaker and dietitian.
The guideline also has separate food recommendations for people of different ages in the age group of 20 to 60 years. There is also a separate recommendation for women, pregnant women and children.
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