LOCAL nutritionists have advised pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to consider principles of nutrition during this coronavirus (Covid-19) infection to serve newborns.
Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre (TFNC) Nutritional Research Officer, Fatma Mwansora said good nutrition strengthened the immune system and helped victims to fight against Covid-19.
Ms Mwansora revealed it recently in Dar es Salaam that the common symptoms of Covid-19 infections were fever, dry cough and tiredness. Other symptoms are less common and may affect some patients. These include aches and pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat and diarrhoea.
She mentioned some of the principles that pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should adhere to during this period as eating a balanced diet consisting of four to five times mixed foods as well as drinking clean, safe and sufficient water.
"These mothers should increase the intake of nutrients for the enhancement of antibodies which are nutrients that provide the body with high levels of protein, vitamins A, C (meat, legumes, vegetables and fruits)," she explained.
According to her, the pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are advised to attend breastfeeding counselling, basic psychological and social support and appropriate nutritional support regardless of whether they or their infants and children are feeling or have been infected with Covid-19.
Ms Mwansora further said pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should be provided with Covid-19 preventive services so that they were not infected or exposed to others and take other measures as advised by health professionals (regular washing of hands with running water, using hand sanitisers and wearing facemasks).
"The body's ability to fight against coronavirus infections depends on the individual's health and nutritional status," she stressed. She said strengthening of the immune system required the presence of various nutrients found in the foods they ate.
"These groups are advised to eat a balanced diet from all five categories including vegetables and legumes/beans, fruit, grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans and milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat.
TFNC Executive Director, Dr Germana Leyna, said as institutions would continue expanding the scope of raising the awareness of nutrition in fighting against Covid-19.
She said food and nutrition played a vital role as good nutrition was the most effective defence against diseases.