woman cooking with vegetables

The COVID-19 pandemic has led many of us be more mindful of our health. That includes everything from washing our hands more to cleaning surfaces extra and even watching what we eat. The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) offers advice for a well-balanced diet to help keep your immune system strong and lower your risk of contracting infectious diseases like COVID-19.

1. Eat fresh foods every day

  • Eat fruits, vegetables, legumes (lentils, beans, etc.), nuts and whole grains (such as oats, wheat, brown rice, potatoes, and yams), and foods from animal sources (such as meat, fish, eggs, and milk).
  • It's recommended that you eat 2 cups of fruit (4 servings), 2.5 cups of vegetables (5 servings), 180 grams of grains, and 160 grams of meat and beans. You can eat red meat 1-2 times per week and poultry 2-3 times per week.
  • Choose raw veggies and fresh fruit for a snack instead of foods that are high in sugar, fat or salt.
  • Do not overcook produce as this can lead to a loss of important nutrients.
  • If you want to buy canned or dried vegetables and fruit, look for those without added salt or sugar.

2. Drink lots of water

  • Drink 8-10 cups of water each day. Water regulates your body temperature, gets rid of waste and lubricates and cushions joints.
  • Water should be your No. 1 choice for drinking fluids. But you can have other drinks that contain water, such as lemon juice (diluted in water and unsweetened), tea, and coffee. Do not consume too much caffeine, and avoid sweetened fruit juices, syrups, fruit juice concentrates, and any drinks that contain sugar.

Is fruit juice bad for you and your children? Learn more from our pediatricians

3. Limit your intake of fats and oils

  • Try to eat foods with unsaturated fats (such as those found in fish, avocados, nuts, olive oil, corn oils, etc.) rather than unsaturated fats, like those in fatty meat, butter, cream, and cheese.
  • White meat, such as chicken, and fish are better choices than red meat because they are generally lower in fat.
  • Stay away from processed meats because they are high in fat and salt.
  • Opt for low-fat or reduced-fat milk and dairy products when possible.

4. Eat less salt and sugar

  • Limit the amount of salt and high-sodium condiments when cooking and preparing food.
  • Avoid foods that are high in salt and sugar.
  • Limit the number of soft drinks and other drinks that are high in sugar.
  • Instead of sweet snacks like cookies, cake, and candy, choose fresh fruits.

Learn more about COVID-19, symptoms, vaccines and more from our UC Davis Health experts

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