Local foods help boost immune system -MoPH Food Policy Director advises

—can help in preventing COVID-19 transmission

DPI, Guyana, Friday, April 17, 2020

Director of the Food Policy Division at the Ministry of Public Health, Dinte Conway says good nutrition keeps us healthy at any age and more importantly, during outbreaks and pandemics such as the novel coronavirus.

Appearing on the Ministry of Public Health’s daily update Conway noted there are foods we consume daily with micro-nutrients such as essential vitamins and minerals that help to build our immune systems.

These include foods rich in Vitamin A such as eggs, cheese, oily fish like sardines and mackerel, whole grains and beans, nuts and local flour. Vitamin A maintains the structure of the cells in the skin, respiratory tract and gut.


Director of the Food Policy Division at the Ministry of Public Health, Dinte Conway

Vitamins B6, B9 and B12 contribute to the body’s first response mechanism once a pathogen (virus) has been detected. Common foods with vitamins B6, B9, B12 are nuts, green leafy vegetables (pakchoy and callaloo), any type of fruit, fish, chicken, and meat.

The Food Policy Director explained that other essential vitamins such as Vitamins C and E “help protect cells from oxidative stress.”

Some common sources of these vitamins are limes, carrots, tomatoes, guava and cherry. It was noted that one cherry has enough vitamin C for a person’s daily recommended intake without the need of any other supplement.

Foods rich in Vitamin D include eggs, fish and milk that is fortified, meaning vitamin D has been added.  Vitamin D can also be sourced from the sun by just spending a few moments outdoors.

Conway also outlined essential minerals and where they can be sourced. “We have the minerals, iron zinc and selenium and in Guyana, we can use legumes, whole grains, seafood, meat, chicken, nuts all of these have essential minerals.”

Concerning the preparation of meals, she said fresh spices can be used to reduce salt intake. “We don’t want to be consuming too much of salt especially during this time so we can use a lot of ginger, garlic, fresh seasonings that are available on the market.”

Conway also reminded of correct portion sizes to ensure that while we eat healthily, we maintain a balanced plate, contributing to an overall balanced diet.


Note: Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body. Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons. The uneven number allows them to easily react with other molecules. … These reactions are called oxidation. They can be beneficial or harmful.