Answers to your frequently asked questions about nutrition and COVID-19.
Simply put, you cannot “boost” your immune system through diet and no specific food, supplement or natural health product will prevent you from catching COVID-19. A healthy, well balanced diet with vegetables and fruit, whole grains and protein foods is the best approach to maintaining a healthy immune system. Proper hygiene can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others.
To date, the Government of Canada has not approved any product to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19. Selling unauthorized health products or making false or misleading claims to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19 is illegal in Canada.
There are many nutrients that are involved with the normal functioning of the immune system and therefore we encourage eating a variety of healthy foods each day in order to support immune function.
You can find more information on nutrition and healthy eating at unlockfood.ca or Health Canada’s Canada's Food Guide.
Check out the Eat Well Saskatchewan Facebook page for more tips.
At this time, there is no vaccine for COVID-19 or any natural health products that are authorized to treat or protect against COVID-19.
If you are self-isolating and especially if you have symptoms, it is important to maintain good nutrition and hydration. Make sure you are eating and drinking regularly, even if you have a low appetite.
If you have specific nutrition needs, it is important that you continue to follow the dietary recommendations made by your dietitian, doctor or nurse practitioner. This may involve asking a family member, friend or neighbour to get you specific foods so you can continue to meet your specific needs. Contact your dietitian, doctor or nurse practitioner by phone or email if you have serious concerns about your condition.
Everyone is encouraged to be aware of people in their community that may have difficulty accessing food, and look for ways to support each other.
At this time, it makes sense to stock up on non-perishable food items so that you do not need to go shopping if you become sick, but avoid panic buying. It is a good idea to have 2-3 weeks of food on hand.
It is easier on the supply chain if people gradually build up their household stores instead of making large-scale purchases all at once. To do this, you can add a few extra items to your grocery cart every time you shop. Good options are easy-to-prepare foods like:
- dried pasta and sauce
- brown rice
- prepared canned soups
- canned or frozen veggies and fruits
- dried or canned legumes such as chick peas and lentils
- canned fish
- nuts and seeds and nut butters
It is also a good idea to have extra stores of:
- pet food
- toilet paper
- facial tissue
- feminine hygiene products
- diapers (if you have children who use them)
The reason for stocking up on these items is not necessarily because you will need to self-isolate. Having these supplies on hand will ensure you do not need to leave your home at the peak of the outbreak or if you become ill.
COVID-19 can cause more severe symptoms and complications in some people living with diabetes, as well as in older people, and those with other chronic health conditions.
If you have diabetes and you have symptoms such as a cough, high temperature and feeling short of breath, you need to continue taking your medication and contact your primary care physician or local Public Health Authority. For those who routinely monitor their blood glucose, on the advice of their clinical team, they should continue to do this more often.
If you have diabetes and you become unwell for any reason, it is important that you practice sick day management, which can include:
- Maintaining open communication with your primary care provider and diabetes care team. They are an excellent resource if you have questions or concerns about your personal health management
- Following the advice of your diabetes care team regarding medication usage, if you are feeling unwell
- Being aware of the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, as effective blood glucose management can become a challenge when sick
- Staying hydrated and having unsweetened drinks on hand; and practicing eating smaller portions but more often
The risk of death from coronavirus is quite low, and most people with COVID-19 will have a comparatively mild illness. Should you have further questions, we recommend contacting your primary care physician or local public health authority.
- Practice respiratory hygiene during feeding, wearing a mask where available;
- Wash hands before and after touching the baby;
- Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces they have touched"
Continue to feed your infant with the formula that has been working for you so far. Try to have enough formula on hand for 3-4 weeks. Try to restock when you still have at least one week of formula left to make sure you have time to find more.
- Check your local pharmacy, grocery store or baby supply store. Businesses may be low right now because of the current increase in demand, but many stores will be restocked soon. Call ahead if you are worried that your formula will be sold out.
- You can also order directly from the company by calling the number found on the formula package or through retailers, like Amazon, for home delivery.
- Your health centre, pediatrician or pharmacist may also be able to help you find what you need, or call the number on the can and ask for help locating that type of formula.
- Switching to another similar formula is the next best option. If your child has additional health concerns, contact your pediatrician, local dietitian or Eat Well Saskatchewan for help choosing an appropriate alternative.
- It is recommended to use formula until 12 months, but if you are running out of formula, your infant is 9 months old and is eating at least 1 cup of solid foods(including iron rich foods) then you can introduce whole cows milk (3.25%) as long as there are no allergies to cows milk.
- Evaporated milk or any other substitution is not appropriate and can put your baby at nutrition risk.
Fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen or canned) remain an important source of vitamins and minerals and are important to support a healthy immune system. There is currently no evidence that food or food packaging is a likely source or route of transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. This includes between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
To minimize your risk, continue to follow these general food safety tips:
- Minimize trips to the grocery store.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after touching shopping carts, pin pads, handling shopping bags and before preparing food.
- If you touch it, you buy it! Only touch the produce you are going to buy.
- Clean food preparation areas frequently. Don't forget about high touch kitchen surfaces such as countertops, drawer and fridge handles, dish rags and tea towels.
- Wash fresh produce well before eating it, especially if you eat the skin and are not cooking it. This includes fruits you may cut into such as a melon.
- Cook meat thoroughly by using a meat thermometer and separate cooked and uncooked foods.
- Refrigerate cooked foods within 2 hours and eat leftovers within 3 days or put into the freezer for later use.