COVID-19 and the Elderly: Stay Strong with Healthy Food

Whole foods will not prevent you from contracting COVID-19 (coronavirus) and will not eliminate the virus from your body if you do test positive, but whole foods can help keep your body strong and healthy all the time so your cells are in a better position to fight all diseases.

Whole foods can help keep your body strong and healthy all the time so your cells are in a better position to fight all diseases. © Imtmphoto |

To help your body remain as healthy as possible during this difficult time, “load up on wholesome, healthy foods,” says Dr. Orli Etingin, founder and medical director of the Iris Cantor Women’s Health Center at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York.

Also, she says, “stay away from processed foods. Processed foods (anything that is made in a factory such as boxed or canned foods, or meats such as hot dogs and sausage) are not healthy any time, but now is a good time to consider reducing or eliminating processed foods altogether.” She also notes that stress tends to make you eat the wrong things, “so don’t let stress and fear dictate your dietary plan.”

Choose Whole Foods

Fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, whole grains, low-fat dairy, nuts, and seeds are the healthiest foods you can consume. They provide your body with macronutrients (proteins, fats, complex carbohydrates), micronutrients (calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus) and fiber. These nutrients are the essential building blocks that keep your body functioning smoothly and heal areas in need of repair (cuts, infections, upset stomach) when necessary.

Fruits and vegetables are packed with disease fighters like antioxidants and foods with anti-inflammatory properties. For instance, foods high in antioxidants include beans, berries, citrus fruits, and leafy greens (spinach, kale, bok choy). Foods with anti-inflammatory properties include avocados, berries, broccoli, cherries, fatty fish (salmon, herring, mackerel), green tea, peppers, extra virgin olive oil, mushrooms, dark chocolate, tomatoes, and foods with the spice turmeric.

Foods with inflammatory properties should be avoided. They include fast foods, fried foods, junk foods, sugary drinks, and processed meats. Sugary foods should be an occasional treat and not an everyday occurrence.

To consume a healthy diet, follow the format. Make fruits and vegetables such as leafy greens, crucifers (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy), and red and orange vegetables (peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes) half of every meal. Eat the skins whenever possible as they retain many nutrients. One quarter of your plate should be grains (half of them whole grains) and one quarter protein (fish, poultry, tofu, low-fat dairy).

Dr. Etingin also recommends that you get plenty of sleep and continue to exercise indoors. And she encourages everyone to get creative about staving off loneliness:

  • Call a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  • Watch a TV program together over the phone.
  • Play a group online game where you interact with other people.
  • Take an online course.
  • Listen to podcasts/watch TEDtalks.
  • Build a puzzle or play board games with your family.
  • Learn a new recipe.

Only go out when you absolutely must, keep a safe distance from others, and load up on enough food for at least one to two weeks, Dr. Etingin suggests. “Also, keep standard over-the-counter cold and flu medicines handy.”



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Lynn Russo Whylly

Lynn Russo Whylly has been executive editor of Belvior’s book division since 2018. In this position, she manages Belvoir’s special health reports, covering such topics as heart health, nutrition, fitness, … Read More

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