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Foods You Should Avoid Buying During Coronavirus Lockdown

We now have stockpiled two-weeks worth of provisions to minimize our outings and contribute to the fight against the coronavirus. What many of us do not know is that some of the food items that we buy every week or two can cause problems for those who rely on them out of medical necessity. 

"This may not always be life-threatening. Most individuals on special diets have learned from doctors or dietitians how to substitute, troubleshoot or simply 'go without'," Eve Persak, certified nutrition support clinician and resident nutritionist for COMO Group Hotels and Resorts, said via HuffPost Life. 

If those products stay unavailable in the long term, however, that can cause many health issues such as weight loss and nutrient deficiencies, all of which can affect their immune systems. Combined with frequent trips to the supermarket to restock some foods and looming possibility of emergency room visits, this can increase their chances of getting the COVID-19 disease. 

To help you ensure that others stay well, various experts recommend that you avoid (or minimize) purchasing the following foods until the pandemic is over:

Coconut Oil 

Rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), coconut oil is more beneficial to the liver or gallbladder compared to other fats since MCTs bypass metabolism in the liver and do not require a lot of pancreatic enzymes and bile to be digested.

Specialty MCT products are available, but with lack of stock or delay in shipments from online vendors, coconut oil serves as a good stand-in. Persak said that the oil is also "far less expensive for people that require it on an ongoing basis."

Frozen Berries 

"For people with chronic renal conditions, there are very few fruits and vegetables that are safe to consume," Persak said. "Most plant-based foods are rich in potassium and phosphorus - two minerals that tax the kidneys." 

Berries such as blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, however, are safe to consume for those with kidney problems since they are low in those minerals. The problem is that while fresh ones are hard to find at the moment, frozen ones are easily sold out. 

"For many (renal patients), these are also their only consistent sources of vitamin C in the diet," Persak said. 

Vitamin C in vegetables is not effective as a nutrient because it is fragile and degrades quickly, and also because veggies are typically cooked before eating. The same can be said of vitamin C found in dehydrated fruits.

Fresh and frozen berries are not bad for you as quarantine food, but Persak said that it "would be a considerate gesture" to refrain from excessively stocking up on them.

Gluten-Free Products 

Gluten-free products are essential for those with celiac disease (or gluten allergy). This can be done by buying products that have been certified gluten-free, which meet the strictest of gluten-free standards. 

"Due to shortages of standard products, like bread and pasta, some people are crossing over into the gluten-free foods sections for these purchases, and this can be a significant imposition for people with celiac disease (or parents of children with the disease)," Persak said.

People who need certified gluten-free products may find it difficult to make meals that are calorie and nutrient-dense enough to make a balanced diet when store shelves are empty of those products. 

"To (eat the slightest amount of gluten-based products) would cause immediate (gastrointestinal) tract discomfort (usually lasting a week or two) and injure or inflame the small intestine (which can often take several months to heal)," Persak said.

Nutritional Shakes 

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an inflammatory lung disease that causes poor airflow and breathing difficulties. People with the disease burn calories at an extremely high rate, making it necessary to eat large amounts of calories daily. 

"If they're unable to gain access to foods high in calories, yet relatively healthy, they may face extreme weight loss and malnutrition," Trista Best, registered dietitian, said. 

High-protein nutritional shakes such as Ensure helps those with COPD get the calories they need. They also help those undergoing chemotherapy for cancer get the necessary protein, calories, vitamins and nutrients for maintaining their nutrition and to prevent appetite loss, weight loss and nausea. 

The problem, Best said, is that "it's not uncommon for the general population to purchase these items out of fear of food loss because they supply adequate protein and calories."

Whole Milk 

"The general population begins stocking up on milk of any kind during potential food panic but whole milk in particular is necessary for people with COPD to meet their calorie and fat needs," Best said.

Rice/Oat Milk 

Those with gallbladder disease or pancreatitis cannot digest fats effectively. "Any ingestion of fat can cause an acute attack of abdominal pain and gastrointestinal distress, as well as inflammation," Jackie Elnahar, New York-based dieititan, said. 

Non-fat and low-fat dairy milk, as well as non-dairy alternatives such as rice or oat milk that are naturally low on fats, are important in preventing the onset of pain from either.

Low-Sodium Products

"Low sodium foods are important during this time for people with (chronic kidney conditions, lung diseases, hypertension and high blood pressure)," Best said. All of these medical conditions require restrictions in dietary sodium to avoid fluid retention. Otherwise, they increase the risk of compromising their health further.

Canned and pantry products, however, are now on high demand so consumers began reaching for low-sodium canned products such as vegetables, beans and soups when standard ones are not in stock.

Grocery store The easiest place to go green is the grocery store. I-5 Design & Manufacture, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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