The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) highlights the importance of good nutrition before, during and after an infection. While no foods or dietary supplements can prevent a COVID-19 infection, maintaining a nutritious diet is important to supporting a healthy immune system to fight infections. In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that a well-balanced diet is critical to receive the essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and anti-oxidants the body needs to be in good health and build a strong immune system to lower the risk of chronic illnesses and infectious diseases. Therefore, a nutritious diet is important for all age groups throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Edward (Ted) Fischer is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Latin American Studies and the Institute for Coffee Studies at Vanderbilt University. Prof Fischer is also the founder of Maní+, a social enterprise in Guatemala that develops and produces locally-sourced complementary foods to fight malnutrition, and serves as an advisor to the World Health Organization on Wellbeing and the Cultural Contexts of Health.
Dr Eva C Monterrosa is the senior scientific manager at Sight and Life and the co-author, with Prof Gretel H Pelto, graduate professor at Cornell University, Ithaca, of “The Mother-Child Food Relationship in the Study of Infant and Young Child Feeding Practices”, published in the ‘Focus on Food Culture’ edition of Sight and Life magazine. This article shines a light on how biology and culture come together at the level of the diet by reviewing infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices. Far from ‘story-telling’, Dr Monterrosa says research that incorporates a cultural perspective achieves two objectives: First, to generate explanatory frameworks that help us understand and generate hypotheses about health behaviors; and, second, to design programs to improve behaviors.