The Significance of Nutrition Education in Times of COVID-19

The mass disruption caused due to the COVID-19 disease has alarmed countries across the globe. More than half of the total student population in the world is being kept away from attending schools.  

While staying healthy and fit should be a regular aspect of our lives, access to food with the right amount of nutrition holds a greater significance these days. Children are among the most vulnerable, and it is critical to protect and educate them about the same. Thus, it is essential to address the need for nutrition education and how it can help mitigate adverse impacts on health.  

Poor nutrition can weaken the immune system, which jeopardizes the body’s ability to fight against COVID-19. Keeping that in mind, nutrition education for school children has become a necessity as it encompasses educational strategies that can make the children more aware of their food choices.  

Why Nutrition Education is Important in Schools? 

Nutrition education is a process that involves teaching nutritional sciences to children in schools and assists them in incorporating positive changes in their eating patterns and habits. The primary focus is on permanent behavioural changes rather than just delivering factual information.  

Nutrition education in primary schools is essential as it helps build a habit from a very young age. Also, active learning will make nutrition-related information more practical in an everyday setting.  

Nutrition is not just limited to what we eat; it also explains why and how certain foods affect our mental and physical health. School nutrition programmes can thus be beneficial on many levels and, in turn, result in improved academic performance too.  

How will Nutrition Education Help Combat COVID-19?  

With so many people falling prey to coronavirus (COVID-19), unhealthy diet and improper nutrition contribute to weakened immunity that put them more at risk. Hence the pandemic requires us to become more considerate about our eating choices. Nutrition education is a step towards a more aware and healthy youth, especially in times of COVID-19.     

The interactive and holistic approach to nutrition education implies getting the children involved in the complete journey from growing food to cooking and eating it. It is crucial to engage younger pupils and help make the entire process of learning exploratory and fun. Moreover, working alongside parents fosters transparent communication and their support impacts the ability to foster knowledge and skills.  

Here are some of the benefits of providing nutrition education in schools: 

  • Increased likelihood of children making healthy food choices from a young age 
  • Decreased risk of obesity and related health issues among children 
  • Improved cognitive development and decrease in behavioural outbursts 
  • Greater physical and mental health 
  • Increased nutritional knowledge and self-awareness 

How Can you Promote Nutrition Education at Home? 

The more you talk about nutrition with your child, the more they will value its significance. Therefore, you must encourage healthy eating habits for your children while being at school, but also when they are at home.  

Follow these ways to incorporate the same: 

  • Introduce a nutrition issue weekly and discuss it with your child regularly. 
  • Engage your child in simple but healthy recipes daily. 
  • Have them draw pictures of fruits or vegetables and educate them about their benefits. 
  • Make use of modules to teach them more about nutrition. 

Nutrition education in the classroom can successfully improve students’ health and academic performance, but it is also essential to practice the same at home.  

Now the question is – how do you evaluate nutrition education programmes? Change in dietary quality is among the key evaluation measures that teachers, as well as parents, can notice.  

The objective is to implement easy, day-to-day steps that will bring out a change in children. As parents, you need to make sure that the schools are keen on imparting nutrition education to students.  

We advise you to consider the impact of lifestyle habits today and comply with COVID-19 prevention protocols as much as possible.  

Coronaviruses

Coronaviruses are types of viruses that typically affect the respiratory tracts of birds and mammals, including humans. Doctors associate them with the common cold, bronchitis, pneumonia, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and they can also affect the gut.

These viruses are typically responsible for common colds more than serious diseases. However, coronaviruses are also behind some more severe outbreaks.

Over the last 70 years, scientists have found that coronaviruses can infect mice, rats, dogs, cats, turkeys, horses, pigs, and cattle. Sometimes, these animals can transmit coronaviruses to humans.

Most recently, authorities identified a new coronavirus outbreak in China that has now reached other countries. It has the name coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19.

In this article, we explain the different types of human coronaviruses, their symptoms, and how people transmit them. We also focus on three particularly dangerous diseases that have spread due to coronaviruses: COVID-19, SARS, and MERS.

What is a coronavirus?

Researchers first isolated a coronavirus in 1937. They found a coronavirus responsible for an infectious bronchitis virus in birds that had the ability to devastate poultry stocks.

Scientists first found evidence of human coronaviruses (HCoV) in the 1960s in the noses of people with the common cold. Two human coronaviruses are responsible for a large proportion of common colds: OC43 and 229E.

The name “coronavirus” comes from the crown-like projections on their surfaces. “Corona” in Latin means “halo” or “crown.”

Among humans, coronavirus infections most often occur during the winter months and early spring. People regularly become ill with a cold due to a coronavirus and may catch the same one about 4 months later.

This is because coronavirus antibodies do not last for a long time. Also, the antibodies for one strain of coronavirus may be ineffective against another one.

Symptoms

Cold- or flu-like symptoms usually set in from 2–4 days after a coronavirus infection and are typically mild. However, symptoms vary from person-to-person, and some forms of the virus can be fatal.

Symptoms include:

  • sneezing
  • runny nose
  • fatigue
  • cough
  • fever in rare cases
  • sore throat
  • exacerbated asthma

Scientists cannot easily cultivate human coronaviruses in the laboratory unlike the rhinovirus, which is another cause of the common cold. This makes it difficult to gauge the impact of the coronavirus on national economies and public health.

There is no cure, so treatments include self-care and over-the-counter (OTC) medication. People can take several steps, including:

  • resting and avoiding overexertion
  • drinking enough water
  • avoiding smoking and smoky areas
  • taking acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen for pain and fever
  • using a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer

A doctor can diagnose the virus responsible by taking a sample of respiratory fluids, such as mucus from the nose, or blood.