Strong against the virus – expert interview with prof. Dr. Diana RubinWhat role does a balanced diet play in infections such as the novel coronavirus? Prof. Dr. Diana Rubin heads the Vivantes Center for Nutritional Medicine with locations at Vivantes Humboldt-Klinikum and Vivantes Klinikum Spandau. There, she advises patients with different clinical pictures, for example cancer, intestinal diseases or before and after surgical interventions. Because scientific findings show: In malnourished people, there may be problems with wound healing and recovery, for example.
Can a healthy diet help prevent people from contracting the Corona virus so easily?
Prof. Dr. Diana Rubin: As with so many ies related to corona infections, we do not currently have any scientific data on this. As nutritionists, however, we ame that a healthy and balanced diet generally protects against infectious diseases. Because we know that people who are deficient and underweight, as is often the case with chronic disease, are more susceptible to it.
Prof. Dr. Diana Rubin, Head of the Vivantes Center for Nutritional Medicine
Do people with malnutrition also have to expect a more severe course of the disease?
Chronic diseases seem to be a risk factor for infection. Loss of appetite. Often eat very little for several days. In addition, there is a loss of smell and taste characteristic of this disease. People who eat a normal diet or are overweight, like two-thirds of Germans, can usually cope easily. But old and often malnourished people quickly lose substance, making recovery more difficult.
A salmon fillet with basil leaves and other healthy ingredients
What foods promote recovery in these individuals?
We do not recommend specific foods, but offer individualized consultations for our patients. The focus is on sufficient protein intake, in the hospital via fortified food or drinkable food. At home, debilitated elderly can turn to dairy products, egg, fish and meat – best combined with exercise to rebuild lost muscle mass.
Which foods strengthen the immune system?
There is no evidence in the scientific literature that there are specific foods that strengthen the immune system. Many vitamins and minerals are involved in regulating the immune system, so a balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables is the key to success. Finally, a complete diet according to the criteria of the German Society for Nutrition is advisable. It contains all the micro- and macronutrients in the quantities the body needs. Dietary supplements are not necessary for ordinary citizens*.
Some consumers wonder whether the virus is transmitted via meat or other foods, for example – a legitimate concern?
The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment estimates the risk of transmission of the virus via food as low. In addition, it is heat-sensitive, i.e. it is killed during cooking or frying.
A healthy salad with bell bell pepper strips, green fresh beans, broccoli, mushrooms, red onions and other ingredients in a wok pan
Many people are currently "hoarding" pasta, canned food and flour. To what extent should they be consumed?
The above-mentioned foods can be part of a balanced diet, preferably in the whole-grain variety. Nevertheless, fresh food should also complement the menu. So fruit and vegetables, dairy products and fish, and meat in moderation are also important for a balanced diet. Pasta alone is not a complete diet. Who does not want to go shopping so often at the moment, can resort to canned, or better still frozen vegetables, so the dish contains more vitamins and minerals. If bread is baked from flour, this is unproblematic. Cake or pizza with lots of sugar, salt and fat, on the other hand, is less recommended. Overall, because most people are moving less at the moment due to, for example, not having to commute to work, they should reduce their overall calorie intake somewhat.
Can the pandemic be a chance to eat healthier??
If you are otherwise on the road a lot, fast food or not optimal canteen food is often chosen in a hurry. The current time offers the opportunity to reflect on one's own lifestyle and diet. Those who spend more time at home should take the opportunity to cook more themselves instead of buying fast food. It is a pleasure to try out new, healthy recipes and to share them with friends or family.
A healthy breakfast doesn't have to be complicated: Milk with muesli, oatmeal, berries and nuts
Can these impulses be carried over into working life later on?
Yes, if you choose recipes that are simple, contain healthy components and are easy to take with you. A weekly plan can help, for example, to prepare several meals at the weekend, possibly freeze them and eat them throughout the week. You can outdo some canteens with this.