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Nutrition during COVID-19

PublishedOct.29,2020

Byline: Connie Kohler, MS RDN, CDCES, Registered Dietician/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, Clinical Editor at Elsevier

Diet is an important part of health and wellness. Getting proper nutrition plays a critical role in people infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus. Those with milder COVID-19 symptoms experience the loss of taste and/or smell that leads to inadequate nutrition and hydration (eating and drinking). When COVID-19 symptoms become severe and require hospitalization, providers have identified a hypermetabolic and catabolic state in these patients that leads to significant weight loss and lean tissue (muscle) loss. Whether a patient experiences a mild or severe case of COVID-19, nutrition plays a role in recovery and healing.

This week we have shared content with a focus on the importance of nutrition and the many ways it has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope you have found this information insightful and inspiring. With the surplus of nutrition resources, including journal articles, webinars, and videos and podcasts, it can be overwhelming and hard to decipher where to start. I recommend visiting the American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) for more information on nutrition therapy best practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. As clinicians, we tend to focus on the effects of COVID-19, in the context of medical diagnosis and treatment. As promoters of health and wellness, I feel it is important to acknowledge that a pandemic society has affected more than those who have been infected with COVID-19. Many have experienced the inability to get food and proper nutrition for a variety of reasons. Factors such as loss of employment, school closings, food hoarding, escalation in food cost and shortages due to supply chain disruption have caused nutritional imbalances around the world. In countries with local food assistance programs, food shortages and forms of delivery have had to be reassessed, so demands could be met during the pandemic state. Foodbanks have had to rely on private donations, volunteers, restaurants, and farmers to help meet the growing needs of communities during a time of food supply chain disruptions. For countries that were economically and socially struggling prior to COVID-19, hunger and starvation threaten to cause more deaths than the disease itself. Extraordinary measures from around the world will need to take place to prevent this from happening.

I will end this blog post by putting in a plug for public health and the need for better health and wellness within our culture and communities. The public’s health matters, and post-pandemic we need to reflect and assess how healthy we are and if we are doing everything we can to promote healthier eating and lifestyle.

Be well and stay well, my colleagues!