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We should focus on nutrition during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Our life may depend on us being healthy if we are infected by the COVID-19 virus.  All the evidence suggests that keeping healthy is important to avoiding having a severe case of COVID-19 virus infection. To be healthy we need to pay extra attention to getting exercise, to getting enough sleep, and to our nutrition.

This post will focus on nutrition. What is nutrition and what are the best nutritious foods during a pandemic? About this, there could be a lot of argument, though most will agree that a balanced diet with significant amounts of fruits and vegetables is a good place to start. For most, this also will include sufficient meat, including liver, to supply critical nutrients like iron and vitamin B12. Including plant based proteins in nuts, beans and lentils is also a good idea.

I have given the question - how can a person make a simple change or changes to have a better diet at the time of COVID-19 pandemic – a lot of thought.  I am going to suggest that we often overlook the nutritional advantage of whole grain breads compared to white breads.

A number of studies have clearly shown that increased consumption of white breads increases the risk for diabetes, while increased consumption of whole grain breads and cereals decreases the risk of diabetes. Diabetes is one of the conditions which is associated with a higher risk of a severe COVID-19 infection.  Decreasing consumption of white bread while increasing consumption of whole grain breads and cereals is associated with a decreased risk of diabetes, which can in turn decrease your risk of a severe COVID-19 infection.  

But regardless of whether a person has diabetes or not, the change to increased consumption of whole grains can be a positive. Whole grains have increased levels of a number of critical nutrients including magnesium and B vitamins as well as a higher level of fibre.  Indeed, the Mayo Clinic provides general advicel to decrease white bread consumption to stay healthier at this link: https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/eliminating-four-white-foods-may-make-it-easier-to-eat-less-lose-weight/ 

The importance of whole grains is further highlighted in a book by Roland Huntford titled “The Last Place on Earth.”  It is the story of two expeditions – Raold Amundsen from Norway and Robert Falcon Scott from England – and their race to be the first to the South Pole. One of the significant differences between the two was in their food.  Both expeditions carried biscuits which were specially produced for concentrated nourishment.  However, the Norwegian biscuits were based on whole meal flour and crude rolled oats while those used by Scott’s English team contained white flour. Amundsen and his team were first to the pole and all returned to their base healthy.  Scott and the four others also made it to the pole, though after Amundsen, but all five perished on the return journey.  Scott himself and his last two companions died just 16 kilometers from the depot which would have provided them the food to live.  In his book, Huntford does an in depth analysis of the nutrient intake by the two expeditions and talks of the factors which might have enabled Scott’s team to be healthier physically and mentally and to survive .  One was having whole grain biscuits instead of white biscuits.  It is a story to remember as we fight the current pandemic.     

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