INDIANAPOLIS –With all that’s happened this year it stands to reason that people have put an increased focus on staying healthy. So many of us trying to do anything we can to avoid things like COVID-19 and flu.
But it turns out one of the most basic things that is crucial to keeping us healthy, is something most of us struggle to do.
According to the CDC. about 9 out of 10 us adults and kids don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables and therefore don’t get the proper nutrients. While the lack of healthy eating has had obvious impacts on things like weight, blood pressure and diabetes, it can also be making it easier for us to get sick.
Dr. Jen Hartwell, Chief Wellness Officer for IU Health says deficiencies in nutrients such as Vitamin C, D, Zinc, and Magnesium put us at an increased risk of getting infections.
“Folks who don’t get those have a tougher time fighting infection and are more susceptible to getting infections. Not only COVID, but a host of other infections. We’re coming up on flu season as well. So the risk of getting a disease and having a tougher time getting through infection, as well as the chronic diseases we see,” she said.
Hartwell says there’s many reasons as to why people get the proper nutrition. Some just don’t like eating certain foods, others tend to rely on the processed pre-packaged options simply out of convenience. But Hartwell adds there’s also another more concerning reason that effects countless people around the country.
“For some folks it’s become starkly apparent, especially during the covid-19 period, that there’s been food insecurity. Which means people don’t have access to healthy, low cost food in a place that they can easily get to. Or that they’re struggling to have the means to pay for that food. And so, all of those things can contribute to micronutrient and vitamin deficiencies,” she said.
Addressing food insecurity and the growing need could go a long way to helping people say healthy.
When it comes to making sure you’re getting enough nutrients at meals, Hartwell says try to make sure you have a colorful plate. She recommends filling half of it with fruits and veggies, a quarter of it with a lean meat or fish, and then fill the rest of it with whole grains. She also recommends making sure to eat your nutrients vs just taking a pill or vitamin supplement as the nutrients found in natural food are more easily digested than those in pill form.