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Healthwatch 16: Nutrition and COVID-19

No food or diet plan will cure COVID-19 or prevent you from getting it, but nutritionists say there is a strong link between good nutrition and immunity.

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — COVID-19 changed a lot about our everyday habits. Kim Segiel, a registered dietician nutritionist, has noticed. She thinks that overall, people have not been focused on their health and wellbeing this past year.

"As many people know, depression can change your eating habits quite a bit. So I've been seeing patients with weight gain and worsening conditions such as diabetes," Segiel said. "A lot of patients might be developing Type 2 diabetes, with the onset of weight gain, if you have a family history, specifically."

Segiel works for Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center and also in the Mount Pocono facility. She notes that since quarantine, pediatric obesity especially is on the rise.

"Part of it is the lack of scheduling. Our children are cyber and virtual now. Their schedules are gone. Their activity is gone. You almost become a counselor to these patients, to these young children."

Segiel notes that there's a strong link between proper nutrition and immune health. She suggests choosing more fresh fruits and vegetables, and yogurts and fermented food products to support our gut health.

And if you do get sick with the coronavirus, don't forget that food can be fuel.

"We forget that eating and drinking is vital to recovery. Not just for the enjoyment or pleasure aspect of taste and smell, but we need fluids and calories and protein to fight the virus."

Segiel says the pandemic has had some positive effects, too. She says people are cooking more at home, which tends to be healthier than eating in restaurants.

And she's noticed that working from home means some people have found more time to get exercise into their days, which is also important in keeping your immunity strong.