COVID-19: Take your food as medicine – Dietitian

Photo of Ms Marian Abrafi Osei at the far end making her presentation
Photo of Ms Marian Abrafi Osei at the far end making her presentation

Ms Marian Abrafi Osei, a Senior Dietitian at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Hospital in Kumasi, has called for the intake of proper and well balanced diet to curb complications of COVID-19.

“We need to own our nutrition. For now, you need to understand that you are what you eat, and you have to take your food as medicine, especially in these pandemic times,” she advised.

She said most of the local foods were very nutritious and could help nourish and boost the body’s immune system to fight the virus.

“In these times, most people would say they are not economically well resourced, but is just about eating what is available and eating it well,” she said.

Ms Osei made the call in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) after a presentation on the role of good nutrition in improving human health at the Katholischer Akademischer Ausländer-Dienst (KAAD) Association of Scholars of West Africa (KASWA) conference.

The conference was held in Navrongo, the Kassena-Nankana Municipal capital of the Upper East Region on the theme; “Building a healthy and peaceful society amidst a pandemic.”

According to Ms Osei, “Science has shown us that the virus which causes COVID-19 is protein in nature and one of the main places this virus targets when it enters the human body is the respiratory system.”

She said the lungs were part of the respiratory system and the virus gets deep within it and multiplies.

“What happens next is that, the structural protein of the virus will go and attach itself to the ‘haem’ or ‘iron’ part of the haemoglobin in our body. The haemoglobin is made up of the “haem” or iron part and this carries oxygen throughout the body,” she said.

The Dietitian further explained that when the virus attaches itself to the haem part, it causes the oxygen to be displaced, saying “The iron now becomes what we refer to as an iron-free ion or a free radical because now it is not bound with that oxygen it had at first”.

She said once the nature of the original haemoglobin had been affected, it was not possible for it to carry out any oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange in the body.

“These free radicals will be accumulating in the body and can lead to various toxic or highly undesirable situations in the body.”

Ms Osei indicated that one of the main things good nutrition in the COVID-19 pandemic did was, the prevention of the build-up of the dangerous free radicals was that, antioxidants in the body would look out for the free radicals and counter their activities.

She said antioxidants occurred naturally in foods, especially plant food sources such as fruits and vegetables. “These antioxidants will therefore help you not to experience all the difficult situations you would have experienced if the free radicals were left to accumulate.

“That is why eating a balanced diet and particularly eating a variety of our locally available vegetables and fruits are so important to prevent us from getting seriously sick from the attack of the coronavirus on our bodies,” the Dietitian said.

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