Local nutrition specialist has advice for North Country on boosting immune system during pandemic

ABC50 NOW

LOWVILLE, N.Y. (WWTI) – During the coronavirus epidemic, many people are struggling with their eating habits while spending more time at home. It can be easy to snack on unhealthy items while watching TV or working from the kitchen table.

Megan Dolhof, Certified Nutrition Specialist and owner of Open Sky Wellness, spoke with ABC50’s Alex Hazard about ways everyone in the North Country can boost their energy and immune system through nutrition.

Megan offered the following tips on staying healthy:

Avoid junk food. Excess sugar from foods and beverages can lower the immune system. Items like packaged foods, baked goods and sugary beverages like soda and Gatorade contain what nutritionists refer to as empty calories.  People get calories from these foods, but little to no nutrients.

Focus on whole foods. They include single ingredient foods, healthy proteins, quality fats and carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

Load up on fruits and vegetables, which are a great source of many different vitamins and minerals that will help boost the immune system and protect against illness. Frozen is just as good as fresh in most cases. The second best option would be canned fruits and vegetables.

Use immune boosting herbs and spices. Ginger, rosemary, turmeric and cinnamon are all great for helping to reduce inflammation and boost the immune system.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. The general rule of thumb is 64 ounces of water per day or half of an individual’s body weight in ounces.  For example, a 150-pound person would need around 75 ounces per day in general.

Sleep, move and manage stress. It’s important to get enough rest and try to find healthy ways to manage stress, like getting outside.

When it comes to avoiding weight gain, Megan suggests trying to keep a regular routine with meals and snacks.  She said it helps when looking for snacks during the day, to think about whether its something you would do if you were at work.  Keeping a food diary or using a food tracker app can help.

Megan said that meal planning helps people stay on track and limit trips to the grocery store. Buying meat from a local farm is a great way of shopping local while making healthy food choices.

Meat Suite is a website with lists of farms in the local area to purchase from. Megan said it’s a great way to get a higher quality product, compared to what people are used to getting at a supermarket. She said purchasing food from farm stands is another way to shop local, along with choosing healthy takeout options at local restaurants.

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