Written by Ijeoma UKAZU

Nutrition as a defense against viruses - Experts









With the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus disease, COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase burden of malnutrition, poor food security across Nigeria.

It is important that there is sustained nutrition to enable the immune system fight against viruses and diseases.

According to nutritionists, the intake of common food groups such as; eggs, meat, fish, dairy products, beans and soya beans amongst others are rich in boosting the immune system to fight any infectious disease that attacks the body.

Nestlé Nigeria in collaboration with Lagos Business School, LBS recently organised a two-week online programme for health journalists in Nigeria on "Advancing Nutrition, Health and Wellness Through the Media."

Making her recommendation during the virtual programme, Dr. Chioma Emma-Nwachukwu, Manager at Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa, who spoke on "The Role of Nutrition in Pandemics" said good nutrition foster growth, maintains and repairs the body, promote health, fight diseases and provide energy amongst others.

The nutritionist said improving the immunity became necessary considering the effect of COVID-19 pandemic that is currently killing millions of people all over the world.

Emma-Nwachukwu likened the immune system to 'police checkpoint' stating that, "the immune system is constantly working to protect the body from infection, injury and disease. To ensure that we remain healthy, our first duty is to improve our immune system."

While giving outlines on how to boost the immune system, she pointed that, "people should choose a healthy lifestyle, eat right, exercise regularly, maintain personal hygiene, practice positive stress management, maintain healthy hydration, maintain healthy weight and planned diet."

She added that, efforts around Nigeria’s national nutrition policy, health and wellness should be strengthened, calling for an improved strategy to ensure nutrition security for all ages.

Also speaking at the webinar, Consultant Nutritionist, Prof. Matilda Steiner-Asiedu of the Department of Nutrition and Good Science, University of Ghana, said nutrition and public health intervention is key to combating malnutrition.

She said part of the interventions are; education, food security, nutrition, supplementation, dietary diversification amongst others.

The expert said that the burden of anaemia is high in Nigeria, especially among children and pregnant women as 1.2 billion people suffer from this disease globally.

She said, "no state is spared in Nigeria in this case, especially in the rural areas, meaning that Nigeria is in critical stage that needs urgent attention."

Steiner-Asiedu urged women, especially pregnant women to get sufficient amount of Iron, Zinc, Vitamin A and folic acid during pregnancy.

She called on the media to embark on intensified nutrition education to help people change their attitudes toward their nutritional status.









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