Eating healthy could help your body better fight against COVID-19

The comfort food you crave does more than add to your waistline. Researchers say “Pandemic eating” has led to many people becoming malnourished, but staying healthy right now means avoiding the wrong foods.

For Michael Tirado, he says, “Things are tough nowadays, jobs are scarce – so you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get by.” That includes picking up food at St. Matthew’s house.

Tirado said he’s able to feed his family with bread, milk, vegetables, and fruit, saying, “It’s fresh; it’s good.”

President & CEO of St. Matthew’s House, Vann Ellison, explains, “A lot of the people that are coming in appreciate getting a fresh product that’s really usable.”

Ellison also believes focusing on nutrition is critical, especially now.

He says, “We focus a lot on getting the right food to people so they’re eating right, they’re staying healthy, and they’re able to be resilient.”

St. Matthews makes fresh produce a priority, but Krista Casazza, Assoc. Dean/Assoc. Professor at Marieb College of Health & Human Services at FGCU admits, not everyone does.

“We’re not going to the grocery store and getting these fresh foods,” she explained. “So we’re eating foods that are comfort foods and that are highly processed that also activate the inflammatory cascade.”

And without anti-inflammatory foods to balance your diet, Casazza warns, if you catch the coronavirus, it could hit you harder.

“You’re in this pro-inflammatory state – highly pro-inflammatory state – and nothing to dial that down … The malnutrition effect is the inability to mount an adaptive response,” she added.

For Tirado, healthy eating fits into his new mantra, “Every day you’ve got to take care of yourself. You’ve got to do better, that’s all.”

If you don’t feel comfortable going to the store, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are better than nothing.

Foods to watch out for and avoid include canned meats, foods with a lot of preservatives, and processed flours.

MORE: St. Matthew’s House website

Reporter:Veronica Marshall
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