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These Diet Tips Could Help Keep You Healthy During Covid Shutdown

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These diet tips from a Liverpool Hope University expert could help keep you healthy during the Coronavirus lock-in. 

Dr Grace Farhat, a lecturer in Food science and nutrition at Hope, is urging everyone to look closely at their diets over the coming weeks. 

She says there’s a risk some might treat a potential 12 week social shutdown as an indulgent ‘holiday’ away from regular diets. 

And that three month period could be enough to have a detrimental effect on your health. 

Dr Farhat explains: “You have to be conscious about what you eat because 12 weeks - the amount of time we’re likely to be in a Covid-19 shut-down - is a long enough period to cause significant weight gain and other long-term adverse effects on your health.

“Coronavirus is, hopefully, a problem which can be managed in the short term. 

“But while your diet might not be your chief concern right now, we need to be mindful about what we’re eating. 

“Britain has long been facing a diabetes and obesity epidemic and we don’t want to exacerbate it.”

Chief concerns for Dr Farhat are weight gain, which is hard to reverse, and increases in harmful levels of cholesterol, blood pressure and Triglycerides - which is a type of fat found in your blood. 

Of particular risk are those already overweight or obese. Ironically, if you’ve stockpiled pasta, you might have put yourself at risk. 

Dr Farhat cautions: “In addition to weight gain, increased triglycerides could be the result of eating too much carbohydrates - and that includes pasta.  

“If you’ve stockpiled or are consuming large amounts of it, you need to be careful!

Increased Triglycerides has been linked to an increase in cardiovascular disease risk, especially in overweight and obese individuals.

“That’s the same for rice and bread, too. 

“And remember that an unhealthy diet can affect mental health too” - which is a problem when you’re perhaps enjoying fewer of the feel-good endorphins released through physical activity. 

“My advice would be to make use of the technology and use exercise apps to keep healthy. 

“And remember that eating when bored is very common. If you can, try not to fall into that trap.”

Here Dr Farhat offers some other Coronavirus lock-in diet tips: 


Get snacking right:

She says: “You need to think about the calories you’re consuming during the whole day. And a good way to reduce calorie intake is to swap unhealthy snacks such as biscuits, crisps and cakes with lower calorie and more nutritious ones. You could, for instance, have crispbread with cottage cheese, crackers with salsa or guacamole, cucumber and carrots, rice cakes with a low fat spread or avocado, zero fat yoghurt with olive oil and crackers, blueberries with low fat yoghurt, slice of bread with hummus and paprika, or a handful of nuts. Popcorn is a very suitable low-calorie option too! I also recommend two squares (20-30g) of dark chocolate per day. It has high levels of antioxidants and can help improve your mood!"


Not all fats are bad:

“There are lots of good sources of fat - such as olive oil, canola oil, raw nuts, olives, and fish. Certain margarines, which contain naturally-occurring sterols, have also been clinically proven to lower bad cholesterol levels.” 


You’re likely to be deficient in vitamin D - and you need to do something about it: 

“We get most of the vitamin D we need from exposure to sunlight. We recently carried out a study at Hope and found 97 percent of our participants, aged between 18 and 50, had inadequate levels of vitamin D. Interestingly, this was tested in summer - when we’re supposed to have our highest levels. And when you consider that a lack of vitamin D has been linked with diabetes and cancer risk, it’s a major public health issue. Therefore, this is now the ideal time of the year to make vitamin D from the sun, and as low as 15 minutes a day exposure would be sufficient for most people.”


Let It Go… 

“Frozen fruits and vegetables could be higher in vitamins and antioxidants than fresh ones. It’s a great alternative for those who don’t always have access to fresh produce, particularly in the current climate.”


Easy on hot beverages:

“Millions of Brits might be tempted to consume too many hot beverages while marooned in their homes amidst the Coronavirus lock-down. The good news is that tea consumption is linked to a decrease in heart disease risk and cancer, due to its antioxidant content. The potentially bad news is you also need to be careful about drinking tea close to meal times, as it could lower absorption of minerals such as iron and Calcium. This is due to the tannins, which are natural compounds found in tea. They can bind to minerals and lower their absorption. Tea, like coffee, is also a source of caffeine, a substance where the effects on our health are controversial. To be on the safe side, and based on previous studies, four to five cups of tea and coffee should carry no health risks. Remember that caffeine is also found in fizzy drinks, energy drinks and chocolate.”


No one food is going to protect you from Coronavirus: 

“There’s a lot being said at present about how foods can have ‘antiviral’ properties. But you should take that advice with a hefty pinch of salt. Yes, a healthy diet including fruits, vegetables and antioxidants can boost the immune system, but this does not happen overnight. If a diet component was really effective in treating the virus, we wouldn’t have had to face such an outbreak in the first place.”


Published on 22/05/2020