March is annually celebrated as National Nutrition Month, and considering the events of the past year, it is increasingly important to remind people of the role diet and nutrition play in keeping your body fit and better equipped to ward off illness.
Proper nutrition is not a new idea, but for healthcare workers who have been on the pandemic's front lines for the past year, healthy eating is easier said than done. But, let’s make the conscious choice to use National Nutrition Month as the inspiration for developing healthier eating choices. With the COVID-19 virus still impacting everyday life all over the world, our diet can be another line of defense to keep ourselves healthy enough to continue caring for others.
How Diet and Nutrition Can Protect Against Illness
In an article published by the National Institutes of Health, two clinical nutritionists suggested that individuals' nutritional status can be tied to resilience against the severity of COVID-19. The authors referred to optimal nutrition and dietary nutrient intake as a way to strengthen the immune system. While they found no evidence that supplementation, other than Vitamin C, can improve the immune system, a proper diet has been proven to ensure that your body is prepared to battle the virus. Instead of taking supplements, the science does maintain that the best way to obtain immune-boosting nutrients is through foods and a proper diet.
The most effective foods for gaining Vitamin C are citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruits, but also red and green peppers, broccoli, and strawberries. Another immune system nutrient is Vitamin D, found in milk and dairy products and fatty fishes such as salmon and tuna. Lastly, much has been written about Zinc and its efficacy in fighting infections. Studies have been inconclusive, but scientists agree that the body’s defense system needs Zinc to be effective. This essential nutrient can be derived from foods such as oysters, meats and poultry, beans, nuts, and whole grains.
Putting Proper Nutrition into Practice
One of the biggest challenges for nurses and healthcare workers is finding the time to maintain healthy eating habits. This has never been truer than during the past twelve months while dealing with the pandemic. Unfortunately, as difficult as it may be, it is important to protect yourself against illness. In recognition of National Nutrition Month, here are a few ideas for how you can create healthier nutrition habits even with a busy lifestyle.
With National Nutrition Month upon us, it provides the perfect opportunity to take a closer look at our diet and nutrition habits. Hopefully, as we continue moving beyond the pandemic, it remains vitally important that we all find better ways to naturally improve our body’s ability to fight off illnesses. For nurses, therapists, and other frontline healthcare workers, consuming healthier foods and practicing proper nutrition is just one more way we can protect ourselves.
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