Professionals in the field of nutrition know how important a healthy diet is for a person’s well-being. Access to proper nutrition has a profound impact on an individual’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and resilience.
Concerns about health are in the forefront of many people’s minds in the current period, with the coronavirus pandemic ravaging society and seriously altering daily life. Though the virus has made many concerned about their own health and the health of others, conversely, the stress it is causing may be complicating personal relationships to diet. There are several different methods nutritionists can use to help encourage their clients to continue to adhere to a healthy diet. Read on to learn about a few of these ways.
Emphasizing that Eating Healthy Supports the Immune System
The immune system is the body’s natural defence system, enabling a person to successfully fight off pathogens like those of the novel coronavirus. An effective and efficient immune system does two things: it initiates the proper response against foreign bodies, and it resolves its response quickly and adeptly. An inadequate immune system may be unable to competently ward off pathogens, or it’s immune responses may attack healthy cells and/or lead to chronic inflammation (August et al, 2019).
A rich diet that provides the body with adequate nutrition is necessary for the immune system to function at its most optimal (August et al, 2019). A diet high in sugar and unhealthy fats, but low in complex carbohydrates and nutrients, can predispose persons to chronic inflammation. Graduates of a nutritionist program can advise their clients that a balanced diet consisting of whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help strengthen the immune system. This is especially important during a global pandemic. Additionally, the gastrointestinal system is a major site of immune activity, thus consuming prebiotic and probiotic foods like garlic, onions, bananas, kefir, and yogurt has positive effects on the immune system (The Nutrition Source).
Eating Healthy Improves Mood and Lowers Stress
The isolation and uncertainty associated with the novel coronavirus can lead to lower mood, anxiety, stress, and loneliness. Clients should be advised that a healthy, balanced diet is shown to improve a person’s mood and resilience to stress. For example, several studies have pointed out a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and a worsening of symptoms of depression. Studies have additionally found that persons who adhere to a more traditional diet, such as a Mediterranean of traditional Japanese diet, were between 25%-35% less at-risk for depression than those who adhere to a typical Western diet (Harvard Health Blog, 2015).
The neurotransmitter serotonin is associated with anxiety and depression due to its role in regulating sleep, mood, and pain. Importantly for nutritionists, approximately 95% of serotonin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, thus highly influenced by the bacteria within it, the presence of which is influenced by a person’s diet (Selhub, 2015). Those suffering from stress require a nutritionally dense diet, but the contradiction is that they usually gravitate towards comforting foods that lack necessary nutrients. Graduates of a nutritionist college should encourage their clients to adhere to a healthy diet due to the stressful conditions of the pandemic. The difficulties of the virus’ impacts on society can be compounded by unhealthy eating, as a poor diet can cause inconsistencies in blood sugar and poor metabolic reactions that lead to fatigue, mood swings, and poor concentration (Selhub, 2015).
Graduates of a Nutritionist College Should Emphasize That Food Can Be a Source of Joy
What may be most encouraging to clients who want to eat healthy is the joy that can be derived from putting effort into one’s diet. In a cultural era full of fear and uncertainty, being mindful of eating healthy can be something that grounds clients in their daily routine and their care for themselves.
The preparation of meals as a ritual has been a source of pride, glee, and comfort for humans since time immemorial. Anthropologists unearthed evidence that ancient diners congregated together to prepare and consume a meal at a hearth that’s 300,000 years old. Moreover, food can impart a sense of calm to people no matter how stressful their circumstances may be. During a terrible expedition in the frozen Antarctic in 1902, the explorers prepared themselves an extravagant feast as a way of coping with the shortest day of the year. The men noted in their journals that taking care to prepare a delicious, hearty meal made even a life in those desolate regions seem worth living (National Geographic Magazine, 2014).
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